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Early Caribbean History


QuickSearch is the libraries google like search engine, which searches both the Libraries collections and most (but not all) of the databases most of the Rutgers Libraries' physical collections and electronic resources. You need to use QuickSearch to look for ebooks and/or print books. Visit the library homepage [] to use QuickSearch


Ways to Search: 

  • Search for Specific Materials: if you already have a specific item in mind, search by specific title, the first 5-6 words or the entire title in quotes, and/ or author

  • Basic Search: The basic search option from the Libraries homepage searches authors, titles, subjects, and abstracts and fulltext, if available, across most of the Libraries resources: books, scholarly articles, news sources, videos, etc.

  • Advanced Search: more precise searches once you have a hold on your topic

Materials Searchable in QuickSearch

  • Books
  • Journals
  • Newspapers
  • Articles
  • Media
  • Reviews of Books
  • Dissertations
  • Audio and video recordings
  • Archival materials
  • Government documents





Keyword Searching

Key Word Searching:  

Keyword searching is the default  way to search our (and most) search interface(s). Use it when you're not quite sure what you're looking for, or when you want to survey the libraries' holdings on a topic. Generate key words based on the central terms related to your area of interest.


Example Topic: I am interested in how enslaved women in the Caribbean generally navigated daily life and motherhood. 

Possible Key Terms: "enslaved" "women" "Caribbean"


And as you go, consider the reoccurring terms in abstracts, tables of contents etc. 

Boolean Operators: 

Boolean operators are connecting phrases that, when used in library databases (typed between your keywords) can  connect your search words together to either narrow or broaden your set of results. 


  • AND: narrows results; tell the database that ALL search terms must be present in the resulting records 
  • OR: broadens results; telling the database that ANY of your search terms can be present in the resulting records; 
  • NOT: narrows results; exclude words from your search; tell the database to ignore concepts that may be implied by your search terms
  • Ordering Boolean Operators: 
    • Use AND First, databases usually recognize AND as the primary operator, and will connect concepts with AND together first.
    • If you use a combination of AND and OR operators in a search, enclose the words to be "ORed" in parentheses.
      • Examples : enslaved AND (persons OR Africans OR people)
  • Wildcards: use an asterisk after a term to search all forms of a word
    • Example:  slave* searches slave, slaves, slavery, slaveholder
  • Quotation marks: use quotes to perform a search of an exact phrase
    • Example: "enslaved women" 

Advanced Searching & Subject Headings

Advanced Search

As opposed to the default basic search, Advanced Search lets you search with more flexibility and precision by searching for words and/or phrases in specific "fields" (author, title, subject) in the records of the Libraries' books and resources

 For example, if you wanted to find books by Martin Munro on the Caribbean:
- On the first line: Author ... is (exact) ... Martin Munro 
- On the second line: Subject ... contains ... "Caribbean Area"

Subject Headings: 

What are subject headings? In library catalogs, materials are assigned Library of Congress (LC) a standardized set of subject headings to categorize material based on content. Here is a sample list of Caribbean Studies subject headings, some of which pertain equally to books and media materials. Some refer to topic, form, geography, chronology. 

When to Use: When you begin to get a handle on your research topic, you might be aided by the greater precision of an advanced subject search (as opposed to keyword). 

How to use: From QuickSearch on the Libraries homepage, click Advanced Search on the right. Then, under Resource Type on the right, select Books.


Caribbean Studies Subject Headings:  not exhaustive list

  • History (add to indicate discipline/method)
  • Caribbean
  • Caribbean Area 
  • Blacks
  • West Indies
  • Enslaved Persons
  • Cuba -- History
  • Puerto Rican -- Literature
  • Revolution (Haiti : 1791-1804)
  • Women -- Caribbean Area
  • Slavery
  • Enslaved people 
  • Jamaica [Cuba, Antilles, etc.]
  • Netherlands [Spain, Portugal, etc.] 
  • History
  • English-speaking or Anglophone
  • Francophone
  • West Indies 
  • Slave insurrections 
  •  Emancipation 
  • Latin America 
  • Plantations
  • Sugarcane industry
  • Toussaint L'ouverture [or other figure name]



  • More subject headings can be identified by exploring the library records!

Finding Books in the Library

When you locate a book that you wish to use in the library, you can locate it by using the call number, so long as it is a book that is circulating or indicated as being in the STACKS (as opposed to REF or Special Collections)


What are Call Numbers? A call number is the combination of letters and numbers that classify and tell us where to  that indicates where an item can be found in the library based on its subject. Most call numbers are located on the spine or front of a book

Map of the libraries to help you determine where to find your book based on the first letter of the call number. 

Common Caribbean Studies Call Number Ranges: 

  • F1601 - F2191 - History of the Caribbean and Caribbean Area
  • PN849 C3- PN849 C32 - General Literature of the Caribbean
  • PQ3940-PQ3949.3 - Literature of the Francophone Caribbean (Haiti, Guadalupe & Martinique)
  • PQ7361-PQ7442 - Literature of the Spanish Caribbean (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico)
  • PR9205-PQ9230.9  & PR9260-PR9279.9 - Literature of the Anglophone Caribbean

Need a book not at Alexander Library?

If you need a physical copy of a book from another Rutgers Library, you can request the book by bringing up the record for the book in QuickSearch, logging in with your Rutgers NetID, and clicking on the Request Item link. You'll receive an email when your materials are ready for pickup. You can also ask to have a chapter of a book sent to you by clicking Digitization. 



Need a book not at Rutgers?

"Unavailable Books:" If a book is not in the catalog at all then it is likely not owned by the library. If a book is in the library catalog but marked "Unavailable" this means it is checked out/reserved/missing.


Ordering Unavailable Books: The fastest way to get a copy of a book that is not owned or available is to request it through E-Z Borrow. E-Z Borrow is regional borrowing  and books are normally received within about five working days. If a book is not owned by the Rutgers Libraries and is not available via E-Z Borrow, you can place an Interlibrary Loan requestwhich is an international borrowing system that can take longer. 

Books To Consider


Activity (15 minutes!)


A) 5 min:  Use Quick Search to locate one physical book in the libraries. Start by thinking of a topic of interest in your course so far and do one of the following: 

  • Identify 2-3 relevant key terms and What are the major key terms 

  • Advanced search and subject headings 


Feeling stuck? Try a search specific to a specific nation! 



B) 10min: Use the library Call Number handout to try and locate your book! Browse the stacks while you're there! 


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