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Graduate students' guide to resources in art history: Finding articles and dissertations

Research guide for graduate students in art history lists core resources, print and electronic.

Databases for finding articles, dissertations, conference proceedings, etc.

The following core databases are important sources for finding articles, dissertations, book chapters, essays, and other materials in art history and in related disciplines such as history, literature and folklore, film, the performing arts, religion, and philosophy.  Together with WorldCat, these databases are indispensable research tools in the art historian's toolkit.

Check the electronic resources pages on the Williams and Clark libraries’ websites for further [extensive] collections of databases.  On the Clark electronic resources page, click “Additional Resources by Subject” to find websites as well as many additional databases.


Art Abstracts
Art Index Retrospective

A good starting point for locating articles in fine arts journals, book reviews, and articles in museum bulletins for any period or genre of art, from classical antiquity to the present. Subjects such as archaeology, architectural history, museum studies, and the decorative arts are also included.
Coverage: AIR covers 1929–1984; AA covers 1984 to the present with abstracts from 1994 on.

Clark/Williams Electronic Resource
Related print title: Art Index. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1929– . (Library has 1929–1984.)
Clark Reference Z3957 A7


ArtBibliographies Modern

Abstracts of journal articles, books, essays, exhibition catalogs, PhD dissertations, and exhibition reviews. Covers modern and contemporary arts from the late 19th century onwards.  Includes traditional media such as illustration, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and drawing; also includes photography since its invention, performance art and installation works, video art, artists' books, and other areas of contemporary art. 
Coverage: 1960 to the present.

Clark/Williams Electronic Resources


Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals

Index to journals in archaeology, architecture, furniture, urban design, historic preservation, landscape architecture, and urban planning history. 
Coverage: 1930s to the present, with selective coverage back to the 1860s.

Clark/Williams Electronic Resources


Bibliography of the History of Art

Premier database for material on the study of Western art povides citations and abstracts for materials on [mostly] European and American art from late antiquity to the present. Materials indexed include art-related books, conference proceedings and dissertations, exhibition and dealers’ catalogs, and articles from more than 2,500 periodicals.It is currently available through the Getty's website.  See International Bibliography of Art, below, the database that takes over and expands BHA to provide international coverage of art history from 2008 forward.
Coverage: Database coverage begins in 1973 and ends with 2008 publications.  

Print coverage: Repertoire d'art et d'archeology (Paris : Bibliothèque d'art et d'archéologie) covers 1910-1989.  Clark Reference ZN5300 R46

Internet resource


Dissertations and Theses

Index to masters’ theses and PhD theses in all subject areas, granted by universities in North America, Canada, Britain, and Europe.  Many dissertations added after 1997 are available as full-text.
Coverage:  1861 to the present.  Abstracts from 1980. 

Clark/Williams Electronic Resources


Historical Abstracts
America: History and Life

Indexes to scholarly articles, dissertations, and book reviews on history and culture, including much material in the field of art history.  The two databases can be searched separately or together and are critically important resources for art historians, especially in the areas of art and social history.  HA covers world history, excluding the United States and Canada, from 1450.   AHL covers U.S. and Canadian history.
Coverage for HA is from 1955 to the present.  Coverage for AHL is from 1964 to the present. 

Clark/Williams Electronic Resources


Humanities Abstracts

Indexes journals in the humanities, including archaeology, classical studies, folklore, history, journalism, literature, music, performing arts, philosophy and religion. A one-stop database for articles in several disciplines that relate to the study of art history.
Coverage is from 1980 to the present.  For earlier coverage, consult the print indexes at Sawyer: Humanities Index (1974– ), Social Sciences and Humanities Index (1966–1974), and International Index (1907–1965).

Clark/Williams Electronic Resources


International Bibliography of Art

International Bibliography of Art, successor to Bibliography of the History of Art (above), provides authoritative coverage of international art historical scholarship including European art from late antiquity to the present, American art from the colonial era to the present, and global art since 1945. Indexes 500+ core journals; includes detailed coverage of monographs, essay collections, conference proceedings and exhibition catalogues.
Coverage: 2008 to the present.

Clark/Williams Electronic Resources



Full-text searchable database of core journals in all disciplines, especially math, general science, social sciences, history, art, religion, language, and philosophy. Historical collection covers from the inception of each title to 2-5 years ago (depending on contractual agreements with vendors).  Rich source of information on art in all related disciplines, including art history, history, literature, religion, and philosophy.
Coverage for each title is from its inception to 2-5 years before the current year, depending on the agreement with the publisher.

Clark/Williams Electronic Resources


MLA Bibliography

Index to journals, monographs, working papers, proceedings, and other formats in the fields of languages, literature, linguistics, and folklore. Also an important source for material on film, photography, and theater.
Coverage is from 1963 to the present.

Clark/Williams Electronic Resources


Philosopher’s Index

Indexing and abstracts from books and journals of philosophy and related fields, covering the areas of ethics, aesthetics, social philosophy, political philosophy, epistemology, and metaphysic logic as well as material on the philosophy of law, religion, science, history, education, and language. An important source of material on semiotics, structuralism, and post-structuralism.
Coverage is from 1940 to the present.

Clark/Williams Electronic Resources


Religion Index

Index to scholarly materials in religion and theology.  Indexes journals, multi-author works, and book reviews. Covers such topics as Biblical studies, world religions, church history and religious perspectives on social issues. 
Coverage is from 1949 to the present.

Clark/Williams Electronic Resources


J.M.W. Turner, Rockets and Blue Lights

J.M.W. Turner.  Rockets and Blue Lights (Close at Hand) to Warn Steamships of Shoal Water, 1840.  Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA.

Featured resource: BHA

The Bibliography of the History of Art, which was a merger of Répertoire international de la littérature de l'art (RILA) and Répertoire d'art et d'archéologie, was the flagship database in a field that boasts more than its fair share of superb subject databases. Most disciplines have one, but Art History has several, of which BHA was the premier source for research in the history of Western art from the Medieval period to the present.

Caught in the economic downturn, BHA lost its funding in 2008 and stopped indexing and abstracting journals.  BHA also lost a search engine that at that time was one of the best in any discipline.  The Getty now offers the BHA database with its own online catalog software as a search engine; the fit is precarious and so it takes skill, creativity, and patience to search what is still an extraordinarily rich, if static, database.

About RILA and BHA

Repertoire d'art et d'archeologie (Paris : Bibliothèque d'art et d'archéologie, 1910-1989) 

RILA covers the years 1975–1989. It was produced at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, and Michael Rinehart was the editor-in-chief. In 1982, Getty began to support RILA, and in 1990 the Getty began to collaborate with INIST-CNRS to produce the BHA. 

A list of the titles and ISSNs of the more than 1,200 journals cited in BHA (PDF, 27pp., 308 KB) can be downloaded. BHA includes all articles within the subject scope of BHA regardless of the subject focus of a particular journal. Thus, many of the journals on this list are covered partially, as only some of their articles are within BHA's scope.