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Democracy, Citizenship, & Constitutionalism

Finding Immigration Materials in the Penn Libraries

There's really only one thing to remember when researching immigration topics in LibraryLand, and that is:

Library catalogs and bibliographic databases will use subject terms separately to describe immigrating (and related activities) and the groups of people doing the immigrating.
So, when you're doing immigration research, you will want to decide first which is more important: the immigration process or the specific groups. Then you'll want to consider additional characteristics to reduce unwieldy search results: time period, place of origin or destination, and so on. This note provides some tips for manipulating the Penn Library Web's databases to identify reading materials on what you want.

1. Looking for books? Use Franklin.

Franklin lists our books, journals - but not individual articles!, microforms, and many electronic resources. It covers all the Penn Libraries, but Biddle Law Library and the Demography Library are not included in Franklin.

2. Searching Franklin is easy ... if you speak the language!

Franklin uses Library of Congress Subject Headings to describe books and other materials. Examples of LCSH elements that are relevant to immigration research are:

Emigration and immigration [they're always paired!]
Migration, internalAssimilation
Return migrationBrain drain
RepatriationFreedom of movement
SupranationalismEmigration and immigration law
ImmigrantsImmigrants--United States
Mexicans--United StatesMexican Americans
AliensAlien labor
Agricultural laborersChildren of alien laborers
Frontier workersMigrant labor
EthnicityEthnic relations
Ethnic attitudesLinguistic minorities

Try truncating and combining LCSH elements with Franklin's "Keyword Expert Search" to find what you want. Some examples:

immigr* AND discrimination AND mexic*
"linguistic minorities" AND france
(alien* or immigra* or migra*) and (labor* or workers) and skey mexic* AND skey california
("east european americans" or "czech americans" or "slovak americans" or "polish americans") or (subject:("united states") and (czechs or slovaks or poles or "east europeans"))

You can add some predefined LCSH elements to search for publication types or specialized information. Some examples:

immigr* AND subject:(statistics)
"hispanic american*" AND subject:(bibliography)
("frontier workers" OR "migrant labor" OR "alien labor") AND fiction
("personal narratives" OR diaries OR autobiographies OR letters OR correspondence) AND immigr*

3. Beginning to look for scholarly journal articles?

Some of the strongest databases for immigration research are listed on the Penn Library Web's Immigration page. Hint: Most of these databases provide shortcuts to our PennText article-finder service - look for the PennText button to locate print or online fulltext.

Consider the disciplinary orientation of your topic when selecting your first database. For example, if you're looking at social aspects of immigration, then you should probably start with Sociological Abstracts. For political aspects, try World Political Science Abstracts. Most of the Penn Library Web's social sciences databases are provided through a common platform, so you can connect to one and then "change databases" to search several databases simultaneously for interdisciplinary coverage.

4. Finding scholarly journal articles for which you've got citations

Our PennText article-finder service is the fastest way to hunt down those citations for both online and print holdings. But don't forget that many specialized journals (and foreign ones, too) do not offer online fulltext - so search Franklin for journal titles too!