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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Religious Studies 235: History of Religion in America: Diversity, Discord, Dialogue

Course guide.

1. America: History and Life

The main article database for American history is America: History and Life. This is usually the best starting place to search for scholarly articles in English on historical topics.  America: History and Life covers articles, book reviews, and dissertations on all periods of North American history published since 1964, and in some cases it provides links to the full text of the articles online.

Use the Subject Browser in the database to select your subject term(s). You can narrow your search by adding a keyword or using more than one subject term.

2. ATLA Religion Database

Produced by the American Theological Library Association, Religion Database, or ATLA Religion Database, includes citations to journal articles, essays in books, and book reviews published since 1949. As in America: History and Life (see above), you combine subject terms with keywords.

3. Other Article Databases

There are many other specialized or multidisciplinary article databases that you could search, depending on the focus of your topic. These databases will give you access to popular magazines, scholarly journals, or both. Coverage can be recent or deeply retrospective (some databases cover as far back as the 17th century). The master list of article databases is available on the Library Gateway’s Online Research Resources page. You may find material on revivalism and evangelicalism in America, for example, in Expanded Academic ASAP (1980- ), or Academic Search Ultimate (1980- ). Below is a list of databases we think you might find useful for this course.

4. Full-text Resources

There are several major collections of full-text electronic journals. In these databases you can browse individual issues of journals, or you can do a search across the entire database.

For older journals, use JSTOR ("journal storage"). This is a digitized, fully searchable version of the full content of more than 700 scholarly journals from their inception (sometimes as early as the 18th century) up to the last 1-5 years (recent issues are excluded). Several key historical and religious studies journals are included in JSTOR, such as

  • Journal of American History
  • Journal of Interdisciplinary History
  • Journal of Religion
  • History of Religions
  • Journal of Black Studies
  • Religion and American Culture
  • Review of Religious Research
  • Sociology of Religion 

For the full text of more than 300 recent scholarly journals, use Project Muse. These too are fully searchable. In most cases, only the issues from the last few years are available. Here you will find, for example,

  • American Quarterly
  • Journal of Social History
  • Journal of Interdisciplinary History
  • History and Memory
  • Journal of the Early Republic
  • Journal of Women's History

Periodicals Archive Online is a collection of over 500 journals, with coverage extending from the 18th century through the 20th. Includes over 25 journals devoted specifically to religion and theology. Content tends to be more scholarly than what you'd find in the above collections. This collection is complemented by Periodicals Index Online, which covers over 5,500 journals in the humanities and social sciences, with coverage back to 1665. Like Reader's Guide Retrospective (see above), Periodicals Index Online provides access to article citations, not full text.

5. More Periodicals Sources

You can also find periodicals of religious organizations using the online catalog, using simple keyword searches like: methodist AND periodicals. Alternatively, you can browse for subject headings:

  • Baptists --United States --Periodicals.
  • Congregational churches --Periodicals.
  • Reformed Church in America --Periodicals.
  • Reformed Presbyterian Church --Periodicals.
  • Society of Friends --Periodicals.
  • Jews--United States--Periodicals.
  • Islam --Periodicals.
  • Black Muslims --Periodicals.

You can also identify religious periodicals by using classified lists like Periodicals Directory (began publication in 1932, subsequently known as Ulrich's), and Ayer's Directory of Publications (goes back to 1880).

Finally, you might consider browsing in the Main Stacks, beginning at call number 205.