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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 200A: The Sexual Revolution in Global Perspective

Introduces history majors to basic research library concepts (you should master before History 498). Provides both a broad overview of the source types collected by research libraries, and also lists specific sources relevant to research for this course.

Ask a Librarian

From Citation to Source: Books

If you have a citation for a book, and you want to obtain a copy of that book, you first need to determine whether the University of Illinois Library owns a copy of the book. To determine whether we own a copy, you will use the Library Catalog:

The Library Catalog will include records for both ebooks and print books, so if we have a copy of the book as an ebook, you will a record for the ebook in the Library Catalog.

If the Library owns a copy of the book, but the book is already checked out to another patron, or if the Library does not own a copy of the book, then you will next search the I-Share Catalog to see if the book is available to you through I-Share:

If the book is not available through I-Share, then you will use your complete citation to request a copy through interlibrary loan:

Library Catalogs

What is a Library Catalog?

When researching in a library, especially a research library, its catalog is probably the most important tool you will use, and one with which you should familiarize yourself as quickly as possible. Even if you think you have never used the Library Catalog here, you probably have and just do not realize it, since "Easy Search", the Library's federated search engine, sends all queries to the Library Catalog along with several other online research tools.

A library catalog is a database of records that identify and describe resources owned by the library. Most of these records describe published resources like books. Use the catalog to find both print sources and digitized sources in the Library's collections.

Many research libraries today will dress their catalogs up with fancy interfaces, making the catalogs appear to have far greater functionality than they actually do. You will be a much better user of library catalogs if you understand the purpose and functions of library catalogs, which are in fact very basic:

  1. The catalog should be an efficient instrument for ascertaining:
    • Whether the library owns a particular work specified by its title;
    • Whether the library owns a particular work specified by its author;
    • Which works by a particular author are in the library;
    • Which editions of a particular work are in the library.1
  2. The catalog should collocate records for works on a common subject under a single, standardized heading.

Digitization of library catalogs has made it possible to perform keyword searches on the records in the catalog. Aside from this innovation, and a few other conveniences, the library catalogs of today are essentially identical (in function) to library catalogs created a hundred years ago.

If you can't find your book in our Library Catalog, you should next check to see if it's available from an I-Share Library. To search all I-Share Libraries, switch to "Advanced Search" in our library's catalog, and select the "All I-Share Libraries" radio button.

After you have explored the books available to you here at the University of Illinois, and also at other I-Share libraries, you will want to expand your search using WorldCat:

If you find a book in WorldCat that you would like to use for your research, you can request it through Interlibrary Loan:

Subject Headings in the Library Catalog

Subject headings are used to collocate records for works on a common subject under a single, standardized heading.

The subject headings used in the Library Catalog are standardized Library of Congress terms, which may be “subdivided” (made more specific) by geographic area, chronological period, genre, or sub-topic. The language of subject headings is not at all intuitive or natural, so you shouldn’t hesitate to ask a librarian for help in finding the correct subject headings.

A good way to identify subject headings for a topic is to do a keyword search in the Library Catalog using terms you think describe the topic, in order to identify a few relevant books. Look at the full record for those books to see what subject headings were used, then do another search on those headings.

As a rule of thumb, use fairly broad headings, as well as the specific ones that describe your topic, in order to make sure you haven't inadvertently eliminated relevant material that is contained within works of larger scope. Most likely you will find multiple headings to describe your topic, and you should use all of them. You can narrow your search in the online catalog by combining subject headings (as a phrase) with keywords, using the “Advanced Search” option.

Example Subject Headings

  • Abortion.
  • Abortion --Law and legislation --United States --History.
  • Abortion --United States --History.
  • Abortion services.
  • Abortion services --United States --History.
  • Adultery
  • Adultery --Case studies.
  • Adultery --Comic books, strips, etc.
  • Adultery --United States --Case studies.
  • Adultery (Islamic law).
  • African American gays.
  • African American women --Health and hygiene.
  • African Americans --Medical care.
  • AIDS activists.
  • AIDS activists --Biography.
  • AIDS activists --Illinois --Newspapers.
  • AIDS activists --Latin America --Periodicals.
  • AIDS activists --Mexico --Periodicals.
  • AIDS activists --Periodicals.
  • AIDS activists --United States --Biography.
  • AIDS activists --United States --Periodicals.
  • AIDS (Disease) --California --Prevention.
  • AIDS (Disease) --California --Prevention --Case studies.
  • AIDS (Disease) --California --San Francisco --Personal Narratives.
  • AIDS (Disease) --California --San Francisco --Prevention.
  • AIDS (Disease) --California --San Francisco --Prevention --Periodicals.
  • AIDS (Disease) --Patients --United States --Songs and music.
  • AIDS (Disease) --Songs and music.
  • AIDS (Disease) in art.
  • AIDS (Disease) in art --Exhibitions.
  • AIDS (Disease) in art --Periodicals.
  • AIDS (Disease) in literature.
  • AIDS (Disease) in mass media.
  • AIDS (Disease) in mass media --Case studies.
  • AIDS (Disease) in motion pictures.
  • AIDS (Disease) on television.
  • Anti-feminism.
  • Asian American gays.
  • Birth control.
  • Birth control --Psychological aspects.
  • Birth control --Religious Aspects --Catholic Church.
  • Birth control --Religious Aspects --Catholic Church --Periodicals.
  • Birth control --Research.
  • Birth control --United States --History.
  • Birth control clinics.
  • Birth control clinics --Equipment and supplies.
  • Bisexuality.
  • Christian conservatism.
  • Christian conservatism --United States.
  • Christian conservatism --United States --Periodicals.
  • Christianity and politics.
  • Computer sex.
  • Conservatism.
  • Contraception.
  • Cruising (Sexual behavior).
  • Eugenics.
  • Eugenics --History.
  • Eugenics --Law and legislation.
  • Eugenics --Periodicals.
  • Eugenics --Research --United States --History.
  • Eugenics --United States.
  • Eugenics --United States --History.
  • Eugenics --United States --History --20th century.
  • Ex-gay movement.
  • Families --United States.
  • Family policy.
  • Feminism.
  • Feminism --Cross cultural studies.
  • Feminism --Latin America.
  • Feminism --United States --Periodicals.
  • Feminism and mass media.
  • Feminism and motion pictures.
  • Feminism and music.
  • Feminism and sports.
  • Feminism and video games.
  • Feminism on television.
  • Gay fathers.
  • Gay immigrants.
  • Gay liberation movement.
  • Gay liberation movement --Argentina.
  • Gay liberation movement --Argentina --Buenos Aires --Newspapers.
  • Gay liberation movement. --California.
  • Gay liberation movement. --United States --History.
  • Gay men.
  • Gay men --Illinois --Chicago --Periodicals.
  • Gay men --United States --Diaries.
  • Gay men --United States --Family relationships.
  • Gay military personnel --United States.
  • Gay parents.
  • Gays --Africa --History.
  • Gays --China.
  • Gays --Illinois --Chicago --History.
  • Gays --Mexico.
  • Gays --Mexico --Periodicals.
  • Gays --Societies, etc.
  • Gays in popular culture.
  • Gays in popular culture --History --20th century.
  • Gays in the military --United States.
  • Gays in the military --United States --History.
  • Gays in the military --United States --Interviews.
  • Gender identity.
  • Gender identity disorders.
  • Gender transition.
  • Hermaphroditism.
  • Heterosexism.
  • Hip-hop feminism.
  • Hippies.
  • Hippies --United States.
  • Hispanic American gays.
  • HIV infections.
  • HIV infections --United States.
  • HIV infections --United States --Prevention.
  • Homophobia.
  • Homosexuality.
  • Homosexuality --Research.
  • Homosexuality --United States.
  • Homosexuality --United States --History.
  • Homosexuality --United States --Interviews.
  • Homosexuality --United States --Personal narratives.
  • Homosexuality in motion pictures.
  • Homosexuality in video games.
  • Human reproductive technology.
  • Human reproductive technology --Moral and ethical aspects.
  • Internalized homophobia.
  • Intersex children.
  • Intersex people.
  • Intersexuality.
  • Intersexuality --Case studies.
  • Intersexuality --Comic books, strips, etc.
  • Intersexuality --Early works to 1800.
  • Intersexuality --Europe --History --16th century.
  • Intersexuality --History.
  • Intersexuality --Treatment.
  • Lesbian feminism.
  • Lesbian mothers.
  • Lesbianism.
  • Lesbianism --Archival resources --Periodicals.
  • Lesbians.
  • Lesbians --Biography.
  • Lesbians --United States --Family relationships.
  • Lesbians --United States --Historiography.
  • Lesbians --United States --History.
  • Lesbians' writings, American.
  • Man-woman relationships.
  • Marriage.
  • Mass media and sex.
  • Mass media and women.
  • Mass media and women --United States.
  • Maternal health services.
  • Maternal health services --United States --History.
  • Maternal health services --United States --Statistics.
  • Maternal health services --United States --Statistics --Periodicals.
  • Moral panics.
  • Nineteen seventies.
  • Nineteen sixties.
  • Nineteen sixty-eight, A.D.
  • Non-monogamous relationships.
  • Open marriage.
  • Oral contraceptives.
  • Oral contraceptives --Congresses.
  • Oral contraceptives --Social aspects --United States --History.
  • Oral contraceptives --Utilization --United States --Statistics.
  • Paraphilias.
  • Parents of gays.
  • Parents of gays --United States --Case studies.
  • Parents of gays --United States --Interviews.
  • Polygamy.
  • Pro-choice movement.
  • Pro-life movement.
  • Prostitution.
  • Prostitution --History.
  • Prostitution --Social aspects.
  • Protest movements.
  • Protest movements --History.
  • Protest movements --United States --History --20th century.
  • Right and left (Political science) --History --20th century.
  • Sex.
  • Sex --Africa.
  • Sex --Cuba --History.
  • Sex --Dictionaries.
  • Sex --Social aspects --Africa.
  • Sex change.
  • Sex change --Law and legislation.
  • Sex change --Personal narratives.
  • Sex customs.
  • Sex customs --Arab countries.
  • Sex customs --United States --History --20th century.
  • Sex differences (Psychology).
  • Sex in popular culture.
  • Sex in popular culture --United States --History --20th century.
  • Sex in video games.
  • Sex instruction.
  • Sex instruction --Case studies.
  • Sex instruction --Comic books, strips, etc.
  • Sex instruction --Curricula.
  • Sex instruction --Curricula --United States.
  • Sex instruction --Ecuador.
  • Sex instruction --Europe --History.
  • Sex instruction for children.
  • Sex instruction for children.
  • Sex Manuals.*
  • Sex-oriented businesses.
  • Sex role.
  • Sex role --China.
  • Sex role --Kenya.
  • Sexology.
  • Sexual behavior surveys.
  • Sexual deviation.
  • Sexual disorders.
  • Sexual disorders --Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  • Sexual disorders --Treatment.
  • Sexual disorders --Treatment --Periodicals.
  • Sexual ethics.
  • Sexual ethics --United States --History --20th century.
  • Sexual minorities.
  • Sexual minority community.
  • Sexual reorientation programs.
  • Student movements.
  • Student movements --United States.
  • Student movements --United States --Bibliography.
  • Student protesters.
  • Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.).
  • Subversive activities --Illinois --Chicago.
  • Surrogate motherhood.
  • Telephone sex.
  • Third-wave feminism.
  • Transgender people.
  • Transgender people --Biography.
  • Transgender people --Case studies.
  • Transgender people --Civil rights.
  • Transgender people --Civil rights --United States.
  • Transgender people --Comic books, strips, etc.
  • Transgender people --United States.
  • Transgender people --United States --Diaries.
  • Transgender people --United States --History.
  • Transgender people --United States --History --20th century.
  • Transgender people --United States --Interviews.
  • Transsexualism.
  • Transsexualism --United States --History.
  • Transsexuals.
  • Transsexuals --Personal narratives.
  • Transvestism.
  • Transvestism --History.
  • Triangles (Interpersonal relations).
  • Women.
  • Women --Health and hygiene.
  • Women --Health and hygiene --Cross cultural studies.
  • Women --Mental health.
  • Women --Psychology.
  • Women --Sexual behavior.
  • Women --Sexual behavior --United States --History --20th century.

*Medical Subject Heading (MESH).

A useful tool for finding subject headings is the Library of Congress's authority file of subject headings. This tool will help you to find related subject headings, as well as broader and narrower headings. For example, if you look under "Homosexuals," you will learn that books on this topic are actually filed under the heading "Gays," and that there are 28 narrower subject headings related to this topic.

If you are research LGBTQ history, then consider consulting Dartmouth University's guide to Queer Subject Headings:

As described in a previous page, you can also use subject headings to find primary sources in the Library Catalog. Use the Library Catalog's advanced search option and include one or more of these Library of Congress Subject Heading form subdivisions in your search:

  • correspondence
  • sources
  • diaries
  • personal narratives
  • interviews
  • speeches
  • documents
  • archives
  • early works to 1800

In order to browse a menu of subject headings in the Library Catalog, you must use the Catalog's "Browse Search":

Shelf Browsing

After a new book is assigned subject headings, it is then “classified” according to the Dewey Decimal Classification. UIUC is the largest “Dewey” library in the world. In addition, we use a system called Superintendent of Documents Classification ("SuDocs") for U.S. government publications (based on issuing agency).

In Dewey, the first three numbers indicate the main subject, and additional numbers are added after a decimal point to narrow the subject. Books and journals on historical topics are usually classified in the 900s, although much of social history gets classified in the 300s, and the history of science, technology, and medicine is classified in the 500s and 600s. Religion is classified in the 200s, philosophy in the 100s, literature and literary studies in the 800s, and the fine arts in the 700s.

For more detail on the Dewey Decimal classification consult the Library's Guide to the Dewey Decimal System:

In the 1960s, many libraries adopted the Library of Congress Classification (LCC), but by that time the University of Illinois Library already had more than four million volumes classified in Dewey. Some large academic libraries began using LC classification for new materials and left their older materials in Dewey, splitting their collection in two. University of Illinois debated this approach in 1979, but decided against it, primarily because of the potential inconvenience to our readers, who would have to go back and forth between the systems. Eventually we did adopt LC classification for Music, Law, and materials in Asian languages; older materials in those collections were retrospectively converted to LC classification. Many newer acquisitions, across all disciplines, are now being cataloged in LCC, resulting in a split collection. For help understanding the LCC, see the Library of Congress's guide to LCC:

The Library now classifies almost all new imprints using LCC, but the historical collection, where you are most likely to find primary sources, remains a DDC collection.

In order to browse the shelves, you need to know this “classification number”. Once you have identified a few books on your topic by doing a subject search in the online catalog, you can browse the shelf under the same general number(s) to find related works. For example, if you know that the book The Evening Crowd at Kirmser's: A Gay Life in the 1940s, has the call number 306.766 B814e, then you could go to the Main Stacks or the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library to browse the shelves under the same Dewey number to find related material.

Sex manuals, for example, tend to be classified between 612 and 613 (with many at 612.6), but also 176 (and here you will find sex education books as well). Some sex ed books (for students) were classified under sex role, 301.424, and here you will also find many books on sex role "disorders."

Below is a list of other DDC numbers that might help you locate relevant books for research in this course:

  • Abortion
    • 363.46
  • AIDS
    • 362.196 979 2
  • Birth control
    • 363.96
    • 613.943
  • Extramarital sex
    • 306.736
  • Marriage customs (including polygamy, polyandry, intermarriage)
    • 306.84
    • 392.5
  • Pornography
    • 363.47
    • 176.8
  • Prostitution
    • 306.74
    • 364.1534
  • Sexual education
    • 176
    • 301.424
    • 612.6
    • 613.95
  • Sexual deviations
    • 616.8583
  • Sexual technique
    • 613.96

Because so much of the Library collection is now stored in a high density, off-site storage facility, it's no longer possible to browse the collection as completely as it once was. You can, however, do "virtual shelf browsing" using the Library Catalog:

Digitized Book Collections

In addition to the more-than fourteen million print books in the Library, we also have a rapidly growing collection of digitized books. You will find records for these digitized books in the Library Catalog. The digitized books are aggregated into different collections, and you can perform keyword searches within these collections:


1. International Federation of Library Associations, Statement of Principles: Adopted at the International Conference on Cataloguing Principles, Paris, October 1961, ed. Eva Verona, Definitive ed. (London: International Federation of Library Associations Committee on Cataloguing, 1971), xiii.