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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

American Music

A guide to help you begin your research and find books, articles, and special collections materials on American Music topics.


Handbooks, guides, and bibliographies about specific composers, genres, or instruments can be excellent tools for your research!

What are they?

  • Thorough and comprehensive lists of the major scholarship about a specific topic.

Why use them?

  • To help direct your reading and research so you know what's already been published about your topic.
  • Remember: Although they are a great place to start, it is important to check when they were published because they may not be up to date on the most current research and scholarship.

Finding Handbooks & Guides Through the Library

Oxford Bibliographies (linked below) is a great online tool that collects peer-reviewed annotated bibliographies on a variety of topics. Searching here to see what has been written about the topic you're researching is a great way to gather background information and decide what sources to read next.

You can also find handbooks, guides, and annotated bibliographies on a variety of topics through the library catalog.

If you are looking for guides for a specific composer, search for the composer's name and "guide to research", "research guide", or "bio-bibliography".

If you are searching for a more general guide to a particular area of American music (e.g., jazz, gospel, classical) try searching for your topic AND "research guide", "bibliography", or "handbook" to find additional materials.

Selected Handbooks & Guides

If you're not sure where to start, check out some of the research guides linked below!