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African American Visual Arts from the Colonial Period to the Present

African American Visual Art from the Colonial Period to the Present is intended to introduce the student researcher to sources of information about visual arts created by African Americans over the past three centuries.

Search Strategies

The STLCC Library ArcherSearch tool is your gateway to finding all items, including books, which the College Libraries can access. You can also search the Library Catalog to find material including physical books.

The two basic methods for searching the catalog are by keyword and by LC subject heading.  Because most library users are not familiar with the official Library of Congress (LC) subject headings, it's often a good idea to begin with a keyword search. Results of a keyword search can lead to appropriate subject headings.  Ask a reference librarian for help with subject searching.

Useful keywords for this subject include: African-American Art, Black Art, African-American crafts, Harlem Renaissance, African-American photography

ArcherSearch is a search tool (discovery service) that searches many sources simultaneously. 

You will find books, ebooks, videos, articles, and links to databases or library guides. Get the most out of ArcherSearch by using the limits listed under All Filters under the search box.

Keyword Searching

Every item owned by an STLCC library is listed in the College's Library Catalog.  Each listing is called a record.  A powerful way to search for information on a particular topic is to perform a keyword search, which looks for records containing the words you use in your search. You can also use these techniques in SearchIt!

 Example keyword search: Black Artists

  • This search will find all records in the STLCC catalog which somewhere contains the words Black and Artists.  
  • Records normally include a book's title and author, as well as descriptions of its subject matter. In addition, a record may include a book's chapter headings or a summary of its contents. 
  • Therefore this search will retrieve all records with Black or Artists in any of these areas
  • Searching the term "Black Artists" with quotation marks will return all records with this phrase.

 Narrowing your search with and.  Example keyword search: "Black Artists" AND painting

  • This search will find all records in the STLCC catalog which somewhere contain both the word painting and the phrase "Black Artists."
  • By using and between keywords, you've specified that all of your keywords must be present in the record for it to appear in your results.  
  • One major reason to use and is that it lets you narrow broad searches (painting) to more specific topics (for instance, books on paintings related to or created by Black artists.)

Using truncation.  Example keyword search: art* and African-American

  • Using an asterisk at the end of a keyword is called truncation, and lets you search for word variations.
  • This example search will find all records in the STLCC catalog which somewhere contain both the word art and any words beginning with art, such as arts, artists, artistic, etc.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Library of Congress (LC) subject headings are special, standardized words and phrases which describe the primary subject(s) on which a book focuses.  Searching by subject heading rather than by keyword often allows you to look for books on a particular topic more efficiently. 

Since LC subject headings are included in a book's catalog record, looking at the records you get from a keyword search can help you identify appropriate subject headings.  Ask A Librarian for help with LC subject searching.

Below are just a few examples of subject headings you will find in the STLCC Catalog:

St. Louis Community College Libraries

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