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REL 239 Spiritualism In America: Home

Starting your Research in American Spiritualism

Searching Rare Books and Special Collections

PIcking your topic is research

Finding a topic - an example

Finding a topic:

Find something that interests you – even just a name, like Louisa Nell Gray.

  • Articles and Books tab at will give you a sense of how much is available on your topic. Try a few different terms in your search, and when you have results, you can narrow by discipline or by peer-reviewed journals, etc.
  • Databases by Subject: If you have a sense of what field or discipline your topic is in, click on the Databases tab and click “Browse by Subject” – librarians have picked “best bet” databases for each subject.
  • Find a book or journal article that we don’t own? You can request it through our Interlibrary Loan Program – there’s no charge, and we’ll get you an electronic or print copy of the material you need. 


Louisa Nell Gray:

  • Articles and Books – one hit, African American Theater Directory We learn that she’s part of the Histrionic Club of Boston. That’s run by William Cooper Nell.  Let’s see if we can find out more about that.
  • In Databases, try America History and Life – nothing on Histrionic Club. Quite a bit on William Cooper Nell.
  • Now try the database: Black Literature Index for “Histrionic Club” and we get a book review: Wagner, Bryan : Book Reviews: "Slavery and Sentiment on the American Stage, 1787-1861: Lifting the Veil of Black" by Heather S. Nations. Reference from: African American Review, 44:1-2 (Spring-Summer 2011), p.321-322.  We’ve found the title of this book, but the library doesn’t own it – let’s look it up in Google Books or Amazon, to see if we can search it. In Amazon, yes.  Does it have something we’re interested in? The index says there’s a bit on the Histrionic club. So, let’s request it through Interlibrary Loan
  • Make a note of the things that interest you – is the existence of African-American literary societies interesting? We can follow that path. Is William Cooper Nell the person that you’d like to follow? How about African-American women and their role in literary society?  There’s lots of possible paths!
  • What about and Google?  They aren’t bad resources, but they are likely more useful when you have a better sense in what you’re looking for.





Eileen Daly-Boas's picture
Eileen Daly-Boas
Out of the Office, Back July 19thEmail