History, Africa *: Finding Articles in Databases

This guide is intended to help any faculty, graduate, or undergraduate student find resources in the area of African history.

Multidisciplinary Databases

Listed below are multidisciplinary databases--databases that search a variety of subject areas all at once--that can be used to scan the literature on a topic.

Multidisciplinary Databases

  • Google Scholar -- domain of Google that searches [mostly] scholarly open access books, book chapters, journals, and other materials from thousands of publishers. Go here for information on how to maximize the search features in Google Scholar.
  • JSTOR -- a multidisciplinary archive of scholarly journal articles covering most major disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. Useful for identifying historical research on a topic; does not cover current research.
  • ProQuest Multiple -- a database with extensive full-text and linked coverage of scholarly journals, news magazines, and newspapers. Good place to begin your search for scholarly journal articles or current news coverage of a topic.
  • ProQuest Dissertations and Theses -- access to doctoral dissertations and Master's theses from more than 3,100 contributing institutions. The database contains full text PDF copies of over 2.5 million of titles with 200,000 works added annually. Contents are updated weekly.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.

Key Databases in the Study of African History

Below are comprehensive databases that support the study of African history.

  • Africa Bibliography – an authoritative guide to works in African studies published under the auspices of the International African Institute annually since 1984, principally in the social and environmental sciences, development studies, humanities, and arts. The arrangement of the bibliography is by region and country, with a preliminary section for the continent as a whole. The bibliography generally contains three types of entry: journal and magazine articles, books and pamphlets, and book chapters.
  • African Diaspora Online – provides access to primary and secondary sources and videos concerning the migration of people of African descent to countries around the world from the 19th century to the present.
  • America: History and Life -- database that covers the history of the United States and Canada. It includes key English-language historic journals, selected historic journals from major countries, state and local history journals, and selected relevant journals in the social sciences and humanities. Use this database to study the history of slavery and other topics related to the history of the African diaspora in the United States and Canada.
  • Historical Abstracts -- this database includes key history journals from major countries, as well as relevant selected journals from the social sciences and humanities. Covers world history outside of the United States and Canada and is a good place to locate historical research about Africa published in scholarly journals. All abstracts are in English.
  • JSTOR African Studies -- this link provides access to the archive of scholarly journals and e-books supporting research in African Studies within the larger JSTOR database. Includes a search engine searching the contents for specific topics within the collection.
  • Oxford Bibliographies: African Studies – a source of reliable annotated bibliographies on a wide array of African Studies topics. Written and reviewed by academic experts, every essay serve as an authoritative guide to current scholarship, containing original commentary and annotations.

Below are multidisciplinary databases covering research literature published in Africa and by African scholars.

  • Africa Portal -- a research repository and an expert analysis hub on African affairs. Africa Portal curates a comprehensive collection of research material that holds more than 5,000 research reports, occasional papers, and policy briefs. The entire repository is open access and equipped with a search function and available for free, full-text download.
  • AfricaBib -- a collection of Africana social science titles, presented in one easily accessible location on the internet. It is the culmination of over forty years of Africana research. Most records contain a link to the full text of the publication elsewhere on the internet.
  • African Journals Online (AJOL) -- the world's largest online collection of African-published, peer-reviewed scholarly journals. The site currently hosts over 370 peer-reviewed journals from 27 African countries, many focused on historical topics. Coverage is from 1998 to the present.
  • African Minds -- an open access, not-for-profit, publisher of scholarly books and titles that are the outcome of research conducted by non-governmental organizations published predominantly in the social sciences and its authors are typically African academics or those with a close affinity with the continent.
  • Africana Periodical Literature – provides metadata of articles on Africa covering a wide range of topics, from geography, history and anthropology to agriculture, women's studies, medicine and health. The database contains more than 179,000 records from over 800 journals. The majority of the journals are in English or French with some in German, Afrikaans, Dutch, Italian, and Portuguese. There is a strong focus on journals published in Africa. Te database is updated regularly with metadata of articles abstracted and indexed by the information specialists at the African Studies Centre Leiden (ASCL) in Leiden, The Netherlands.
  • Current Bibliography on African Affairs – this publication is a quarterly guide for study and provides access to impartial and comprehensive coverage of published and forthcoming research in the field of African Studies and related subjects, including history, gathered from world wide sources.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.

Subject-Specific Databases

The study of African history is not the exclusive purview of history scholars. Below are databases arranged under broad categories that will help you locate additional research that examines the historical treatment of Africa by researchers in other disciplines. They provide much more in-depth access to research than the multidisciplinary databases listed above. Note that most of these databases will only include historical studies of post-Colonial Africa.

Multidisciplinary Group Perspective

  • AgeLine – provides aging-related research content from the health sciences, psychology, sociology, social work, economics, and public policy, and indexes journals, books, book chapters, reports, dissertations, consumer guides, and educational videos from 1978 to the present.
  • Diversity Studies Collection – provides access to articles from news sources, magazines and academic journals exploring global cultural differences, contributions, and influences related to gender, ethnicity, and race. Publications included in this collection cover subjects in disciplines such as anthropology, history, gender studies, and sociology.
  • Ethnic NewsWatch -- current and archival full-text coverage of newspapers, magazines and journals from ethnic and minority presses. Important for gaining a first-person perspective and understanding of policy implementation from underrepresented groups and minorities.
  • LGBT+ Life -- resource on the world's literature regarding LGBT issues with coverage that includes traditional academic, lifestyle, and regional publications. Disciplines include health, law, sociology, family, religion, civil liberties, employment, and entertainment.
  • Sociological Abstracts -- resource for accessing research in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. The database draws information from an international selection of over 2,600 journals and other serials publications, plus conference papers, books, and dissertations.
  • Women's Studies International -- an index to the core disciplines in women'€™s studies and feminist research. Coverage includes more than 586,600 records and spans from 1972 to present. Over 2,000 sources are represented.

Business and Economics

  • ABI/Inform – features coverage of thousands of full-text journals, dissertations, working papers, key business and economics periodicals. Its international coverage provides a complete picture of companies, labor, finance, and business and industrial trends around the world.
  • EconLit -- database of journal articles, books, book chapters, research center papers, and dissertations covering a comprehensive range of economics-related topics.

Communications and Language

  • Communication Source -- a comprehensive source of communication-related journal articles, research reports, working papers, and books from a variety of publishers, research institutions, and information centers. Includes not only communication literature but also literature in other disciplines relevant to communication studies.
  • Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts -- accesses the international literature in linguistics and all aspects of the study of language, including descriptive, historical, comparative, theoretical, and geographical linguistics. Important database to understanding the use of language in communicating policy and the rhetoric of leadership.


  • Environment Index -– comprehensive database with coverage in applicable areas of ecology, natural resources management, environmental law, public policy, social impact analysis, urban planning, and more from 1973 to the present.
  • GreenFile -- indexes scholarly and general interest titles, as well as government documents and reports. Focuses on offering a unique perspective on the positive and negative ways humans affect the environment, drawing on the connection between the environment and disciplines such as agriculture, education, law, and health and technology.
  • Water Resources Abstracts – provides summaries of the world's technical, scientific, and public policy literature on water-related topics covering the characteristics, conservation, control, pollution, treatment, use, and management of water resources as well as the legal aspects of water supply, use, control, or management.


  • Global Health -- covers all aspects of public health issues and policies at both international and community levels, as well as a wealth of material from other biomedical and life science fields.
  • Global Index Medicus -- provides worldwide access to biomedical and public health literature produced by and within low-middle income countries. The main objective is to increase the visibility and usability of this important set of resources. The material is collated and aggregated by World Health Organization Regional Office Libraries on a central search platform allowing retrieval of bibliographical and full text information.
  • PubMed@USC -- a service of the National Library of Medicine, comprises more than 34 million citations for biomedical literature, life science journals, and online books from around the world. This version is customized for USC users to find the full-text of articles.

Human Support Services

  • Child Development and Adolescent Studies -- citations to social and behavioral sciences literature related to growth and development of children through the age of 21, including book reviews, abstracts from hundreds of journals, books, book chapters, and theses and dissertations.
  • Family and Society Studies Worldwide -- comprehensive coverage of research, policy, and practice literature in the fields of family science, human ecology, human development, and social welfare from professional journals, conference papers, books, book chapters, government reports, discussion and working papers, statistical documents, theses & dissertations and other sources.
  • PsycInfo -- international coverage of more than three million records devoted to scholarly journal articles, chapters, books, dissertations, and research reports in psychology and related clinical and behavioral sciences.

International Relations and Politics

  • Policy Commons -- platform for objective, fact-based research from the world’s leading policy experts, nonpartisan think tanks, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The database provides advanced searching across millions of pages of books, articles, working papers, reports, policy briefs, data sets, tables, charts, media, case studies, and statistical publications, including archived reports from more than 200 defunct think tanks. Coverage is international in scope.
  • Public Administration Abstracts -- information on public administration-related publications worldwide, covering such areas as administration and economy, administration and politics, administration and society, administrative structures and organization, public and social services, public service personnel, and theory and method.
  • Public Affairs Information Services [PAIS] -- indexes selective subjects and bibliographic access to periodicals, books, hearings, reports, gray literature, government publications, Internet resources, and other publications from 120 countries. Includes historical coverage from 1915 to the present.
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts -- provides indexing of the international journal literature in political science and its complementary fields, including international relations, law, and public administration and policy. Over 1,700 titles are monitored for coverage and, of these, 67% are published outside of the United States.


  • HeinOnline Law Journal Library -- contains more than 2,400 law and law-related periodicals. Subjects covered include criminal justice, political science, technology, human rights, and more. Search by article title, author, subject, state or country published, full text, and narrow by date.

Philosophy and Religion

  • ATLA Religion Index -- a comprehensive database for religious study and research that includes journal articles, book reviews, and collections of essays from books representing major religions, faiths, denominations, and languages.
  • Philosopher's Index -- covers worldwide research in all subject areas of philosophy, including ethics, social philosophy, political philosophy, epistemology, and material on the philosophy of law.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.