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Use SuperSearch fo Find Background Sources
You can use our library search tool SuperSearch to find biographical and other background information on your chosen author. Use the Reference Content Type filter to limit your results to articles from a range of reputable encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other sources — all available to you online when you're logged in with your Wellesley credentials.
- Put words in quotation marks to search them as a phrase. Searching for "Nellie Wong," for example, weeds out sources that have Nellie and Wong in them but not together.
- For a more comprehensive search, try variations on how a name might appear in a source; for example:
("Nellie Wong" OR "Wong Nellie")
- The Reference filter can miss some good biographical and background content. Another strategy you can try, especially if there aren't a lot of results, is removing the Reference filter and adding biograph* to your search, for example:
("Nellie Wong" OR "Wong Nellie") AND biograph*
(The asterisk * is a shortcut for searching for different forms of the word: biography, biographical, etc.)
Although SuperSearch searches most of the content in our Reference databases, these individual databases can make it easier to focus your search (for example, by limiting to biographical articles or filtering for shorter or longer articles). They will also sometimes find articles that don't show up in SuperSearch. If you are working on a writer who is African American or from the African Diaspora, the Oxford African American Studies Center is an important source to search.
Biography (Gale In Context)
Over 650,000 biographical entries covering international figures from all time periods and areas of study; search by name, occupation, nationality, ethnicity, birth/death dates and places, or gender.
Literature Resource Center
Biographies, bibliographies and full-text critical analysis of authors from all genres and eras, including the contents of Contemporary Authors, Dictionary of Literary Biography, and Contemporary Literary Criticism.
Oxford African American Studies Center
Thousands of articles by scholars in the field, with primary source documents, maps, and images.
An interdisciplinary research tool that allows you to search over 300 reference works simultaneously, including limiting to audio or visual materials.
Search across encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference books.
Oxford Reference Online
Full text of over 100 reference books in all disciplines published by Oxford University Press
Why Use Reference Works?
Reference works such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks can provide
- a quick overview of a topic or biography of a person, often written by scholars in the field
- vocabulary or keywords for searching
- suggestions for further sources
, American Studies
, Cinema & Media Studies
, Cognitive & Linguistic Sciences
, Comparative Literature
, East Asian Languages & Cultures
, East Asian Studies
, German & German Cultural Studies
, Italian Studies
, Latin American Studies
, Russian & Russian Area Studies