Database Vendors

The following vendors offer access to electronic versions of several reference sources in this Guide. NetFirst (E225a) identifies Internet resources. None of the following vendors provides a remotely adequate explanation of the scope or editorial procedures governing the databases they purvey.


EBSCO. EBSCO, 2013. 31 Dec. 2014. <>.

Offers access to the following databases of interest to language and literature scholars:

  • Academic Search Complete (G400a).

  • Africa-Wide Information (R4423).

  • Alternative Press Index databases (G400a).

  • America: History and Life (Q3310).

  • Art Index databases (U5145).

  • ATLA Religion Database (U6350).

  • Biograph Index databases (J540).

  • Book Review Digest databases (G415a).

  • Children’s Core Collection (U5475a).

  • Columbia Granger’s Poetry Database (L1235).

  • Education Index databases (U5590a).

  • ERIC (U5590).

  • Essay and General Literature Index databases (G380).

  • European Views of the Americas, 1493–1750 (Q4000).

  • Film and Television Literature Index (U5780).

  • FRANCIS (G345).

  • Gender Studies Database (U6610a).

  • Historical Abstracts (U6500).

  • Humanities Index databases (G385).

  • Humanities International Complete (G360).

  • Humanities Source (includes Humanities Index databases [G385] and Humanities International Complete [G360]).

  • International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance (L1160).

  • International Political Science Abstracts (U6520).

  • Middle and Junior High Core Collection (U5475a).

  • MLAIB (G335).

  • Music Index (U6240a).

  • OmniFile databases.

  • Philosopher’s Index (U6275).

  • Play Index (L1155).

  • PsycINFO (U6530).

  • Readers’ Guide databases (G400).

  • RILM: Répertoire international de littérature musicale (U6240).

  • Senior High Core Collection (U5475a).

  • Short Story Index (L1085).

  • Social Sciences databases (U6470).

  • Sociological Abstracts (U6560).

  • Women’s Studies International (U6610a).

The EBSCOhost search interface offers two search screens: Basic Search allows a keyword search to be limited by date, type of publication, and language and to documents linked to full text and to journals that are peer reviewed (in addition, users can elect to expand searches to related words and to full text of articles and to link terms with Boolean operators); Advanced Search allows users to combine keyword searches of individual record fields (identified in pull-down lists) and offers the same options as Basic Search for limiting or expanding a search. (Visual Search was discontinued in 2013.) The searchable fields vary depending on the content of individual databases, and several databases offer additional limiters (e.g., document type, language, and genre; see the next paragraph for instructions on how to identify searchable fields in an EBSCO database). Depending on the database being searched, users can browse a thesaurus, a list of names as subjects, and a list of indexes; these options are especially important features for searching MLAIB (though the list of indexes would be more useful if each index were mapped to a list of searchable terms). Users who create an account can set preferences, save results to a folder, and create alerts.

Results of a search can be sorted (by date [ascending or descending], author, type of document, and relevancy rank); refined by such limiters as date, type of document, subject, and journal title (limiters vary according to the database); and marked and custom formatted for printing, e-mailing, downloading, or saving to a user’s account. Records formatted in MLA style require substantial editing. Sophisticated searching requires that users become familiar with the searchable fields in Advanced Search; because EBSCO’s explanation of some MLAIB fields is too imprecise to allow users to exploit fully the MLAIB’s indexing of records and is difficult to find (path: Choose Databases/Detailed View/More Information [under the MLAIB section]/Searchable Fields), users should consult the MLA’s “Searching the MLA International Bibliography by Field” (, which clearly explains each field and lists each vendor’s code.


ProQuest (including Chadwyck-Healey and UMI). ProQuest, n.d. 17 Oct. 2012. <>.

Offers access to the following databases and text archives of interest to language and literature scholars:

  • AABD: African American Biographical Database (Q3765).

  • ABELL (G340).

  • AFI Catalog (U5760).

  • African American Poetry (Q3848).

  • American Drama, 1714–1915 (Q3514).

  • American Periodicals Series Online, 1740–1900 (U5565).

  • American Poetry (Q3536).

  • ARTbibliographies Modern (U5140).

  • Bibliography of American Literature (Q3250).

  • British Humanities Index (G370).

  • Canadian Poetry (R4753).

  • C19: The Nineteenth Century Index (M2466).

  • Early American Fiction, 1789–1875 (Q4183).

  • Early English Books Online (M2009).

  • Early English Prose Fiction (M2103).

  • Eighteenth-Century Fiction (M2339).

  • English Drama (M1553).

  • English Poetry Database (M1593).

  • ERIC (U5590).

  • Film Index International (U5767a).

  • FRANCIS (G345).

  • IIPA: International Index to Performing Arts (L1160a).

  • International Bibliography of Art (U5138).

  • International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (U6470a).

  • International Index to Black Periodicals Full Text (Q3740a).

  • International Index to Music Periodicals (U6240a).

  • Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (U6015).

  • Literature Online (I527).

  • MLAIB (G335).

  • Nineteenth-Century Fiction (M2663).

  • Nineteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue (M2475).

  • Periodicals Index Online (G397).

  • Philosopher’s Index (U6275).

  • PRISMA: Publicaciones y revistas sociales y humanísticas (Q3973).

  • ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (H465).

  • ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

  • PsycINFO (U6530).

  • RILM: Répertoire international de littérature musicale (U6240).

  • Twentieth-Century African-American Poetry (Q3848a).

  • Twentieth-Century American Poetry (Q4333).

  • Twentieth-Century Drama (L1158).

  • Twentieth-Century English Poetry (M2894).

Many of the preceding use the Literature Online (I527) interface or one that differs from the following.

The ProQuest search interface offers four search screens. Basic Search allows users to limit a keyword search of all fields to full-text and peer-reviewed documents. Advanced Search—which allows keyword searches of specific record fields to be limited to full-text and peer-reviewed documents, date range, type of source (e.g., books, conference proceedings, scholarly journals), type of document, and a specific language—includes six subscreens: Figures and Tables, Look Up Citation, Command Line, Find Similar (i.e., search for related content), Obituaries, and Data Reports. Publications allows browsing the publications included in a database; Browse includes a limited list of topics and featured content. In addition, users can select custom search forms for the arts, business, dissertations and theses (see H465), health and medicine, history, literature and language, news and newspapers, science and technology, and social sciences; these forms allow a user to refine ways of limiting a search. For some databases, users can browse a thesaurus. Results can be sorted by date (ascending or descending) or relevance (although there is no explanation about how the latter is established) and narrowed by nested menus (e.g., document type, subject, language). Searches can be saved as alerts (however, the monthly lists frequently duplicate records from earlier lists), used to create an RSS feed, or stored in a user’s My Research account. Marked records can be e-mailed (with options for determining record content and citation style, including Chicago and MLA; users should note that MLA-formatted citations require substantial editing), printed, saved to a list of works cited, or downloaded (with options for exporting directly into bibliographic management software). Users can cross-search ProQuest databases included in an institution’s subscription. ProQuest is the only vendor that offers cross-searching of MLAIB and ABELL (see the discussion of Literature Online [I527]). Its current search interface is a welcome improvement over its predecessor.


Gale. Gale-Cengage, n.d. 14 Jan. 2015. <>.

Offers online access to several text archives and databases of interest to literature scholars:

  • Academic OneFile (G387).

  • American History and Culture Online: Sabin Americana, 1500–1926 (Q4015a).

  • Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565).

  • Biography in Context (J572).

  • Book Review Index Online (G415).

  • British Literary Manuscripts Online (M1373).

  • Contemporary Authors (J595).

  • CPI.Q (R4635).

  • Dictionary of Literary Biography (J600).

  • Eighteenth Century Collections Online (M2238).

  • Expanded Academic ASAP (G387a).

  • General OneFile (G387a).

  • Literature Resource Center (I528).

  • MLAIB (through Literature Resource Center [I528]).

  • New Catholic Encyclopedia (U6345).

  • Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Burney Collection Newspapers (K610a).

  • TLS Historical Archive (K765).

While Gale does not use a single search interface for all its online products and it is important to see the individual entries for evaluation of the various interfaces, the company has developed a new interface, Artemis: Literary Sources, that allows many of its digital archives and literary databases to be cross-searchable. The current iteration, still undergoing improvements, operates on two separate types of resources: primary resources (such as ECCO [M2238]) and literary resources (such as the Dictionary of Literary Biography [J600]). In addition to standard Boolean and keyword searching, this inteface has two unique features. Once a user performs a search, an interactive term-clusters graphic appears along with the search results, displaying the initial search terms in relation to other concepts that occur across the collections. Although advanced researchers may find little benefit from this feature, beginning researchers and students can use the graphics to see their topic in ways they may not have considered. The term-frequency function allows the user to create a time line that charts the occurrence of words. Currently, most Gale databases are still searchable in their original interfaces.


WilsonWeb. H. W. Wilson, n.d. (Wilson databases have moved to the EBSCO [I512] platform following a merger of the two companies.)


Literature Online (LiOn). ProQuest, 2013. 23 Aug. 2013. <>. Updated nine times per year.

A text archive that also offers access to a few databases (notably MLAIB [G335] and ABELL [G340]), reference works (notably Blanck, Bibliography of American Literature [Q3250], Webster’s Third New International Dictionary [Q3365], and New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics [L1230a]), links to Web sites, commissioned biographies for c. 4,700 authors, and 356 full-text journals. The bulk of LiOn consists of rekeyed texts of more than 350,000 English-language poems, plays, and works of fiction grouped in collections:

  • African American Poetry (Q3848).

  • African Writers Series.

  • American Drama, 1714–1915 (Q3514).

  • American Poetry (Q3536).

  • Canadian Poetry (R4753).

  • Early American Fiction, 1789–1875 (Q4183).

  • Early English Prose Fiction (M2103).

  • Eighteenth-Century Fiction (M2339).

  • English Drama (M1553).

  • English Poetry (M1593).

  • Literary Theory.

  • Nineteenth-Century Fiction (M2663).

  • Twentieth-Century African American Poetry (Q3848a).

  • Twentieth-Century American Poetry (Q4333).

  • Twentieth-Century Drama (L1158).

  • Twentieth-Century English Poetry (M2894).

Users should note that many institutions that offer LiOn do not subscribe to all of the preceding, that each of the collections also has its own site with a separate—and sometimes superior—search engine, and that there is no way in LiOn to restrict a search to a particular collection.

Quick Search offers keyword searching of the entire content of LiOn. The regular Search offers three options: Authors (users can restrict a search by date, gender, nationality, ethnicity, literary movement, and literary period; most fields allow users to select from a list); Texts (users can restrict searches of all texts, poetry, prose, or drama to keyword-in-text, title, first line of a poem, author, genre, speaker in a play, part of a work [e.g., preface], and all the fields in the Author option); Criticism and Reference (users can restrict keyword, author, and subject searches to criticism, Web sites, or reference works). When searching through the Texts screen, searchers must be certain to checkmark the Variant Spellings and Variant Forms boxes. Users can also browse a list of authors (alphabetically or by period, nationality, literary movement, ethnicity, or gender) as well as nested lists of collections, reference and critical works, multimedia sites, and full-text journals. Users can save searches and records in My Archive and sign up for alerts. Depending on what content is being searched, results are displayed chronologically (descending order) or alphabetically (ascending order). Citations (but not the full text) can be marked for e-mailing, downloading, or printing; each citation includes a durable URL to the full text. Because of the variety of search screens and options, users new to LiOn should peruse the beginners’ guide (Information Centre/Getting Started).

Some works are rekeyed from textually unsound editions; however, the bibliographic record for each work identifies the source of the text and any omissions (e.g., preliminary matter), and the site is refreshingly forthcoming in its explanations of editorial procedures and revision history. Besides being a useful source for identifying an elusive quotation or locating allusions, the scope of LiOn’s text archive makes feasible a variety of kinds of studies (e.g., stylistic, thematic, imagistic, and topical). In addition, LiOn has proven valuable in authorship attribution studies. Currently, ProQuest is the only vendor that allows cross-searching of MLAIB and ABELL (search Criticism and Reference; limit the search to Criticism). Users can search by keyword, title, author and reviewer, publication details, journal title, and date; searches can be limited to the latest update, document type, or records with full text. Besides saving time, since users no longer have to integrate separate searches of the two databases, cross-searching provides the basis for a valid study of the overlap between the two.


Literature Resource Center. Gale Literature Collections. Gale-Cengage, n.d. 31 Dec. 2014. <>.

A reference database that includes MLAIB (G335), links to more than 11,000 Web sites, and the full text of c. 450 journals (some of which are not peer-reviewed) and several multivolume reference works published by Gale-Cengage (e.g., Contemporary Authors [J595] and Dictionary of Literary Biography [J600], which, however, lacks the illustrations in the print edition). Users can search through five search screens: Basic Search (which allows keyword searches by person, title, or full text to be limited by date, content type, and title of publication and to peer-reviewed publications); Works Search (which allows a title search to be limited to full-text documents and by type of work, author, year of publication, century, language, gender of author, nationality of author, and ethnicity of author); Advanced Search (which allows a keyword search of a variety of record fields to be limited by date, century, content type, title of publication, document type, language, and target audience and to peer-reviewed publications); Person Search (which allows a search for a person to be limited by gender, date of birth, date of death, ethnicity, genre, literary movement or period, nationality, occupation, place of birth, place of death, century, and subject or theme); and Gale Literary Index (which allows for author, title, or custom searches of series published by Gale-Cengage). Results appear on tabbed pages sorted by kind of document (e.g., biographies, literature criticism, reviews and news, and primary works) and can be limited to peer-reviewed publications or documents with images and sorted by relevance, date (ascending or descending), or title. Since the majority of the full-text journals are available through other distributors (as is MLAIB), the chief value of Literature Resource Center is as an index to a variety of Gale publications (many of which are designed for an undergraduate audience).

Literature Resource Center will be incorporated into Gale’s Artemis: Literary Sources interface (I524a).


Oxford Reference. Oxford UP, 2013. 23 Aug. 2013. <>. (Former title: Oxford Reference Online.)

A database that offers electronic versions of

  • Canadian Oxford Dictionary (R4675a).

  • Dictionary of English Folklore (U5838).

  • Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology (F278).

  • Green’s Dictionary of Slang (M1410a).

  • International Encyclopedia of Linguistics (U6005a).

  • New Oxford American Dictionary (Q3365a).

  • The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary (R4823).

  • Oxford Classical Dictionary (C115).

  • Oxford Companion to American Literature (Q3210).

  • Oxford Companion to American Theatre (Q3500).

  • Oxford Companion to Australian Literature (R4450).

  • Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature (R4567).

  • Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (C115).

  • Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing (L905).

  • Oxford Companion to English Literature (M1330).

  • Oxford Companion to Music (U6235a).

  • Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature (R4807).

  • Oxford Companion to the American Musical: Theatre, Film, and Television (Q3500a).

  • Oxford Companion to Theatre and Performance (L1140a).

  • The Oxford Companion to the Book (U5191).

  • Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English (M2893).

  • Oxford Companion to Women’s Writing in the United States (Q3213).

  • Oxford Dictionary of English.

  • Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (U6315a).

  • Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature (Q3210a).

  • Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature (U5453a).

  • Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance (L1140).

  • Oxford Guide to Literary Britain and Ireland (M1335).

  • a variety of other Oxford University Press reference books.

The well-designed interface offers two search modes: Quick Search (keyword) and Advanced Search (keyword searches of full text, entry headings, people, bibliographies, captions, book titles, authors, editors, contributors, ISBNs, or subjects, with the option of limiting searches to subject groups or to specific titles). Results of searches can be printed or e-mailed. Users can also browse individual works.


Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale–Cengage Learning. Gale-Cengage n.d. 19 Oct. 2012. <>.

Offers online access to a variety of reference works published by Gale and other publishers. Advanced Search allows users to search by keyword, document title, image caption, entire document, subject, publication title, ISBN, author, publisher, edition, volume number, start page, and document number; searches can be limited to documents with images or by date, publication title, subject area, language, or target audience. Subject Guide Search allows subject terms to be limited by date, publication title, and document type. Results can be sorted by relevance, date (descending), document title, or publication title. Individual documents can be displayed as HTML or PDF files for reading, printing, or downloading; in addition, users can listen to an audio file. The following works listed in this Guide are accessible through Gale Virtual Reference Library:

  • Acronyms, Initialisms, and Abbreviations Dictionary (U5045).

  • American Women Writers (Q3390).

  • Cambridge Guide to Children’s Books in English (U5450).

  • Cambridge Guide to Women’s Writing in English (J593a).

  • Contemporary Authors (J595).

  • Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series (J595a).

  • Contemporary Novelists (M2845).

  • Contemporary Poets (M2895).

  • Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television (Q4305).

  • Encyclopaedia Judaica (U6335).

  • Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (Q3714).

  • Encyclopedia of Religion (U6340).

  • Ferber, A Dictionary of Literary Symbols (C119).

  • LGBT: Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History in America (U5928).

  • New Catholic Encyclopedia (U6345).

  • New Dictionary of the History of Ideas (U5960).

  • Who’s Who among African Americans (Q3770a).

See also

FirstSearch (E225a).