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Michigan State University

Arab American Studies Research Guide: Reference Tools

Reference Tools

Reference books include dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, directories, manuals, handbooks, and much more. Reference books can help you

  1. explore a topic (find out what has been said about a topic, trends, issues, etc.
  2. identify unfamiliar terms or people in your reading
  3. find references to other books and articles on the topic, and
  4. find keywords to use in online searches.

This page pulls together a sample of both electronic and print reference tools.

Basic Reference Tools (Online)

If you don't know where to start, you may want to try one of the following online compilations of reference tools:

Gale Virtual Reference Library : Includes encyclopedic articles on historical and contemporary Natie American research topics.  Note;  It may be necessary to click on Gale products more than once before they open!

Oxford Reference Online : Contains online versions of dictionaries and encyclopedias previously published in paper by the Oxford University Press.

Sage Reference Online : Includes numerous encyclopedias and handbooks, primarily in the Social Sciences.

Recommended Reference Tools

Arab American AlmanacGlendale, Calif. : News Circle Pub. Co.  Latest edition available : 6th or 2010 edition. Main Library E184.A65 A45 

Arab American EncylopediaDetroit : UXL, [1999-2000]  2 volumes.  Main Library Reference and Main Library E184.A65 A449 1999 : This encyclopaedia presents the early history Arab people and the Arab immigration to the United States.

The Arab-American Experience in the United States and Canada : A Classified, Annotated Bibliography / by Michael W. Suleiman.  Ann Arbor, MI : Pierian Press, c2006. 604pp.  Main Library E184.A65 S85 2006 :   The first comprehensive attempt to identify, organize, evaluate, and describe the extensive literature of the Arab community in the United States and Canada.

Arab American Reference LibraryDetroit : UXL, c1999-c2000.  5 vols.  Reference (1 Center) E184.A65 A449 1999 : Includes very basic information for the user just learning about the Arab American experience. Chapters include: history, immigration, economics, languages, religion, holidays, literature, education, jobs, politics, and other aspects of Arab American life.

  • Arab American biography (v. 1-2) located in Biography Alcove
  • Arab American encyclopedia (v. 3)
  • Arab American voices (v.4)
  • Arab American reference library : cumulative index (v. 5) 

The Arab Americans / Randa A. Kayyali.  Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2006.  177pp.  Main Library E184.A65 K39 2006 : Americans of Arab heritage have made major contributions to U.S. society, and this is a timely and unique overview of their immigration patterns, settlement, adaptation, and assimilation for a general audience. The first wave of Arab immigrants, mostly Christian men from Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria, arrived in the United States between 1880 and 1925. This book discusses their history as it looks at the successive waves of immigrants, including the post-1965 immigrants, who have brought more diversity to the Arab American community. The latest immigrants have included more Muslims, many are from Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan. The continuing interest in the Middle East, Islam, and the Muslim way of life make this a must-have source for those seeking to understand current events and our multicultural society.

The Cambridge companion to American Islam / edited by Juliane Hammer, Omid Safi.  New York : Cambridge University Press, 2013.  371pp.  Main Library BP67.U6 C355 2013  : A scholarly overview of the state of research on American Muslims and American Islam. The book presents the reader with a comprehensive discussion of the debates, challenges and opportunities that American Muslims have faced through centuries of American history. This volume also covers the creative ways in which American Muslims have responded to the myriad serious challenges that they have faced and continue to face in constructing a religious praxis and complex identities that are grounded in both a universal tradition and the particularities of their local contexts. The book introduces the reader to some of the many facets of the lives of American Muslims that can only be understood in their interactions with Islam's entanglement in the American experiment.

The Oxford Handbook of American Islam / edited by Yvonne Y. Haddad and Jane I. Smith.  New York : Oxford University Press, [2014]  560pp.  Main Library BP67.U6 BP67.U6 O94 2014 : Islam has been part of the increasingly complex American religious scene for well over a century, and was brought into more dramatic focus by the attacks of September 11, 2001. American Islam is practiced by a unique blend of immigrants and American-born Muslims. The immigrants have come from all corners of the world; they include rich and poor, well-educated and illiterate, those from upper and lower classes as well as economic and political refugees. The community's diversity has been enhanced by the conversion of African Americans, Latina/os, and others, making it the most heterogeneous Muslim community in the world. With an up-to-the-minute analysis by thirty of the top scholars in the field, this handbook covers the growth of Islam in America from the earliest Muslims to set foot on American soil to the current wave of Islamophobia. Topics covered include the development of African American Islam; pre- and post-WWII immigrants; Sunni, Shi`ite, sectarian and Sufi movements in America; the role and status of women, marriage, and family; and the Americanization of Islamic culture. Throughout these chapters the contributors explore the meaning of religious identity in the context of race, ethnicity, gender, and politics, both within the American Islamic community and in relation to international Islam.  Note: Also available online.

Encyclopedia of Arab American Artists / Fayeq S. OweisWestport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2008.  306pp. Fine Arts Art Reference (4 West) N6538.A73 O94 2008 : The rich history and culture of the Arab American people is found in the passionate works of its artists. Whether they be traditional media such as painting and calligraphy, or more sophisticated media such as digital work and installation, the pieces represent the beauty of heritage, the struggles of growing up in war-torn countries, the identity conflicts of female artists in male-dominated societies, and the issues surrounding migration to a Western culture very different from one's own.

Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America  (print) / contributing editor, Robert von Dassanowsky ; author of introduction, Rudolph J. Vecoli ; edited by Jeffrey Lehman.  Detroit : Gale Group, c2000.  3 vols. Main Library E184.A1 G14 2000  : Essays on approximately 150 culture groups of the U.S., from Acadians to Yupiats, covering their history, acculturation and assimilation, family and community dynamics, language and religion.

Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America. Primary Documents (print) / edited by Jeffrey Lehman. Detroit, MI : Gale Group, c1999.  2 volumes.  Main Library E184.A1 G15 1999 : Primary documents, including letters, articles, cartoons, photos, and songs, illuminate the experience of culture groups in the U.S. from colonial times to the present.

The Gale encyclopedia of multicultural America / Thomas Riggs, editor.  Detroit : Gale, Cengage Learning, 2014.  3rd edition, 4 volumes.   E184.A1 G14 2014 : This third edition has been thoroughly reorganized and has 23 new entries, each covering an immigrant or indigenous group in the U.S. Although the writing on cultural history and political activity is well done, the information highlighted in separate boxes is what truly fleshes out each culture. Students will find population maps, Sioux proverbs, and a Salvadoran recipe for chili-lime mango.

Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (print) / Stephan Thernstrom, editor ; Ann Orlov, managing editor, Oscar Handlin, consulting editor.  Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press, 1980.  1076pp.  Oversize Collection (Basement, Center) E184.A1 H35  : Provides long, scholarly essays on all the ethnic groups in the United States, not only the immigrants and refugees who had come voluntarily but also those already in the New World when the first Europeans arrived, those whose ancestors came involuntarily as slaves, and those who became part of the American population as a result of conquest or purchase and subsequent annexation. Extensive bibliographies follow all major essays.

Multicultural America : An Encyclopedia of the Newest Americans.  Ronald H. Bayor. Santa Barbara, Calif. : Greenwood, c2011.  4 volumes (Online resource) : One of the main reasons the United States has evolved so quickly and radically in the last 100 years is the large number of ethnically diverse immigrants that have become part of its population. People from every area of the world have come to America in an effort to realize their dreams of more opportunity and better lives, either for themselves or for their children. This book provides a fascinating picture of the lives of immigrants from 50 countries who have contributed substantially to the diversity of the United States, exploring all aspects of the immigrants' lives in the old world as well as the new. Each essay explains why these people have come to the United States, how they have adjusted to and integrated into American society, and what portends for their future. Accounts of the experiences of the second generation and the effects of relations between the United States and the sending country round out these unusually rich and demographically detailed portraits.  Immigrant groups include: Afghan, Argentinian, Bahamian, Bangladesh, Brazilian, Cambodian, Chilean, Chinese, Columbian, Costa Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Ecuadorian, Egyption, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Filipino, Ghanian, Guatemalan, Guyanese, Haitian, Honduran, Indian (Asian Indian), Indonesian, Iranian, Iraqi, Israeli Jewish, Jamaican, Japanese, Kenyan, Korean, Laotion, Lebanese, Liberian, Mexican, Nicaraguan, Nigerian, Pakistani, Palestinian and Jordanian, Panamanian, Peruvian, Puerto Rican, Salvadorian, Somalian, Sudanese, Taiwanese, Thai, Trinidadian and Tobagonian, Venezuelan, and Vietnamese.

Multicultural America : a multimedia encyclopedia / Carlos E. Cortés, editor, University of California, Riverside.  Thousand Oaks, California : SAGE Reference, A Division of SAGE Publications, Inc., 2013.  E184.A1 M8145 2013 Online via Sage Knowledge.  : This comprehensive title is among the first to extensively use newly released 2010 U.S. Census data to examine multiculturalism today and tomorrow in America. This distinction is important considering the following NPR report by Eyder Peralta: “Based on the first national numbers released by the Census Bureau, the AP reports that minorities account for 90 percent of the total U.S. growth since 2000, due to immigration and higher birth rates for Latinos.” According to John Logan, a Brown University sociologist who has analyzed most of the census figures, “The futures of most metropolitan areas in the country are contingent on how attractive they are to Hispanic and Asian populations.” Both non-Hispanic whites and blacks are getting older as a group. “These groups are tending to fade out,” he added. Another demographer, William H. Frey with the Brookings Institution, told The Washington Post that this has been a pivotal decade. “We’re pivoting from a white-black-dominated American population to one that is multiracial and multicultural.”  Pedagogical elements include an introduction, a thematic reader’s guide, a chronology of multicultural milestones, a glossary, a resource guide to key books, journals, and Internet sites, and an appendix of 2010 U.S. Census Data. Finally, the electronic version will be the only reference work on this topic to augment written entries with multimedia for today’s students, with 100 videos (with transcripts) from Getty Images and Video Vault, the Agence France Press, and Sky News

Multiculturalism in the United States : A Comparative Guide to Acculturation and Ethnicity (print) / edited by John D. Buenker and Lorman A. Ratner.   Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2005.  Rev. and expanded ed., 435pp.  Main Library E184.A1 M85 2005 : Contents -- Introduction / John D. Buenker and Lorman A. Ratner -- African Americans / Cynthia Greggs Fleming -- American Indians / Vine Deloria, Jr. -- Arab-Americans / Gregory Orfalea -- Asian Indian Americans / Karen I. Leonard -- Chinese Americans / George Anthony Peffer -- Dominican Americans / Silvio Torres-Saillant -- Filipino Americans / Augusto Espiritu -- German Americans / James M. Bergquist -- Haitian Americans / Marc Prou -- Irish Americans / Lawrence J. McCaffrey -- Italian Americans / Dominic Candeloro -- Jewish Americans / Edward S. Shapiro -- Korean Americans / Kyeyoung Park -- Mexican Americans / Matt S. Meier -- Polish Americans / Edward R. Kantowicz -- Scandinavian Americans / John Robert Christianson -- Vietnamese Americans / Hien Duc Do -- Bibliographical essay / John D. Buenker, Joseph D. Buenker, and Lorman A. Ratner.  Interest in ethnic studies and multiculturalism has grown considerably in the years since the 1992 publication of the first edition of this work. Co-editors Ratner and Buenker have revised and updated the first edition of Multiculturalism in the United States to reflect the changes, patterns, and shifts in immigration showing how American culture affects immigrants and is affected by them. Common topics that helped determine the degree and pace of acculturation for each ethnic group are addressed in each of the 17 essays, providing the reader with a comparative reference tool. Seven new ethnic groups are included: Arabs, Haitians, Vietnamese, Koreans, Filipinos, Asian Indians, and Dominicans. New essays on the Irish, Chinese, and Mexicans are provided as are revised and updated essays on the remaining groups from the first edition.

Subject Guide

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Erik Ponder
African Studies Librarian
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East Lansing, MI 48824

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