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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Guide to Literatures and Languages Databases: ABELL

Scope of Coverage

What ABELL includes:

  • English language: syntax, phonology, lexicology, semantics, stylistics and dialectology
  • English literature: including poetry, prose, fiction, films, biography, travel writing, literary theory and studies of individual authors
  • Bibliography: including manuscript studies, textual studies and the history of publishing
  • Traditional culture of the English-speaking world: custom, belief, narrative, song, dance and material culture

How is it different from MLA?

  • Covers periodicals from other disciplines, like history journals and newsletters
  • Periodicals include more single-author and society newsletters
  • More book reviews
  • Greater international focus from 1920-1955, especially British and Continental


Most of the items indexed by ABELL are in English.

Dates of Coverage

In addition to offering current records, ABELL is the only electronic database that covers the years 1892 to 1962.

Full-Text Access

ABELL is an article index and does not contain the full-text of articles and other cited material. To find the full-text of an item, click on the Discover Full Text button.

If the Library does not have full-text access of a indexed item in ABELL, then write down the citation information (i.e., author, title, volume number,  etc.) and then search in the Library catalog. If the item is not available in the Library's collection either, then you'll have to place a request through Interlibrary Loan (ask a librarian if you need help in placing your request). 


Publication year: If you wish to restrict your search to a particular time range, enter the start and end dates in the boxes.

Search in: By checking the box that says "Latest update only," your search results will show only those items that have been added with the last update.

Limit to: Limit to allows you to search all the items in the database, or restrict your search to reviews, articles, or books.

For More Help

For more help see the ABELL: Search Guide or Ask a Librarian.

How to Search ABELL

You can search through ABELL by number of different criteria. The most common ways are by Author, Document Title, or Subject (i.e. "Elizabeth Stuart Phelps").

The results will include citation records for primarily journal articles, books, and book chapters:

Journal articles may or may not be available in full text--click the button under search results to find the full-text version, if it is available. To find cited book chapters and books, search the Library catalog.

Tips for Searching ABELL

  • Broaden your search - separate your search terms with OR.
  • Narrow your search - separate your search terms with AND.
    Note: By default, ProQuest assumes an AND relationship between your search terms.
  • Advanced Search - look for terms in specific fields used to index documents.
  • Target your search more precisely - move your cursor over the Advanced Search link to display a menu offering both Advanced Search, and Command Line.
  • Publication Search - browse issues of a newspaper, journal, or magazine -- or search for articles in a specific publications.
  • Phrase searching - look for phrases by enclosing them in quotation marks, for example, "healthy eating".
  • Word variants - to retrieve only a particular variant of a word, such as colour but not color, enter the word in quotation marks in the search box, for example: "colour".
  • Limit your search - select available limiter check boxes such as Full text or Peer-reviewed to focus your search.