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Global Studies in Arts and Humanities - The Imagination of Human Rights: Home

Subject headings, index tools, links to material on human rights throughout the world.

Basic Subject Headings

Finding non-electronic material about human rights topics depends on using the proper combination of headings. Most of the following headings can be subdivided by country, region, time span, topic, and similar divisions. Many are "pattern headings" in which the first or second element can be changed (eg, Slavery in literature; Human rights in literature)  Country subdivisions are especially useful (example: Human rights - United States) These are NOT keyword searches but actual subject headings applied to each title.  Most headings will lead to books; others lead to films, sound recordings, music scores, pictorial works, and other resources, including, occasionally, electronic versions of traditional books or other formats.  When entering these searches in the catalog, select the box for "Subject".

This is not an exhaustive list of headings but covers many of the basic topics. Both primary and secondary sources are covered within these headings. If entering a broad heading such as "Human rights", an additional list of headings will be displayed first, which may allow the search to be refined to broader or more specific headings and thus come closer to the topic you wish to search.






























DALAI LAMA (see cross-references for names of specific individuals)

DALAI LAMAS (headings apply to more than one individual)

WAR FILMS  (movies of war or its consequences are given this heading; it can be subdivided by region or country, although many are just placed under the general heading without subdivision.  Works about the role of movies in war are listed under the name of the war with subdivision --Motion pictures and the war)


NUREMBERG WAR CRIME TRIALS, NUREMBERG, GERMANY (1945-1949)  - examples here include tapes of the Nuremberg trials in MSU's Vincent Voice Library; some are digitized as mp3 files and others must be heard in the Digital Media Center, 4West. ALSO search individual's names - military, government and other leaders' speeches can be found here.

WORLD WAR, 1939-1945 (see especially subdivisions such as --Motion pictures and the war; -- Photography; -- Pictorial works; --Personal narratives; --Songs and music. These can be used under any war, as appropriate to the time period)

WORLD WAR, 1914-1918 (and subdivisions)

To find works ABOUT individuals, search the name as a SUBJECT heading. To find materials BY an individual, search the name as an author.  In both cases, use last name first: Gandhi, Mahatma; King, Martin Luther. 

Research Guide: Peace and Justice Studies

MSU Librarian Terry Link has created an extensive research guide on various subjects, including human rights, animal welfare, food security, and related topics.  To see his guide, use the address below, or go to the MSU Libraries home page (; select "Guides and tutorials" from the column toward the right; select "Research Guides".  Type "peace and justice", "human rights", "food security" or similar topics, then click on the heading in the "About" box.  Once at the site, choose the topic nearest to your research interest.

Web address:


The many electronic resources complement and supplement the physical resources of the library.  To find these, use the E-resources link on the library home page and then select categories as outlined below.  Some of the resources will be full text; others will point you to material in other genres. Be sure to go through the library home page for all of these so that you are registered as an MSU user.

On the E-resources screen, some of the most useful tools are highlighted on the right. These include: JSTOR (indexes journals, some books and primary documents such as letters);  OPPOSING VIEWPOINTS IN CONTEXT (provides comparative texts for a wide range of topics); PROQUEST (primarily periodicals, newspapers, some other primary sources).  Note that PROQUEST says "all databases" but that refers to the databases owned by its parent company; an "all database" search will not search all databases owned by MSU.  PROQUEST searches can be general or narrowed down to a topic such as "Social sciences", where the database "Ethnic NewsWatch" may be particularly useful.

The index on the left side of the E-resources screen has additional categories. Going down the list in order: to find more indexes, select "Indexes", then use the "Browse by subject box" and select "Sociology". (Most of the materials you'll need are gathered under that subject heading.)  Among the databases here that might be useful:  Family and Society (covers the human rights of refugees, the disabled, the elderly); Population index

"Newspapers", the second listing on the left side of the screen, includes full text of many newspapers through the individual papers' links, including international papers. These are excellent for current and recent events, providing a local flavor - but watch for bias. You can search for individual cities, towns, countries, or titles if you wish.  If you searched PROQUEST, you may not need to do extensive searching here unless you want a specific title.  A general database such as InfoTracNewstand (listed on the right side of the screen when in the "Newspaper" search, can provide a broad listing of newspapers.  For historical overview and trends, try "New York Times via Proquest Historical Newspapers, 1851-2008" or "Times Digital Archive, 1785-2006" (covers Great Britain)

"Texts and links", on the left side of the E-resources screen, provides links to various sources owned by or linked to by MSU Libraries. (More links are listed separately in this document.)  Selecting "Sociology" in the "Browse by subject box" leads to a number of links.  Additionally, if interested in music or film of a particular culture, you can select "Film studies" or "Music" for such streaming resources as Filmmakers Library Online (especially good for many types of human rights topics) or Contemporary World Music.

"Primary sources" has a number of historical, sociological and related resources,including some digitized collections of objects, and databases such as "Black thought and culture" or "Women and social movements in the United States, 1600-2000".

"E journal titles": this category brings up only those periodicals that are online subscriptions.  You should be able to link to most full-text articles through this site; you can browse by a specific title or by a general subject (see the drop-down index). Note that the regular library catalog will list both print and online versions of a particular journal title and also lists all journals that are not online at all; in the E-resources listing, you will only see the electronic versions. In many cases, the online source does not go all the way back to the beginning of a journal, or may not be as current as the paper versions. For this reason, I suggest searching a journal title in the regular library catalog. You can link to online sources from the catalog.

An excellent source of photographic images is the AP Images database; search the title in the MSU catalog to link to it.

External Sources

External sources are those which are not sponsored by the MSU Libraries.  The organizations listed here are just a few of the legitimate organizations focussed on various aspects of human rights and conditions. If you do your own browsing on the internet for sources, make sure the results are sponsored by a legitimate agency and that they are not pirated from some other organization. The number of agencies is too numerous to list here; some examples, plus those from the Libguide cited elsewhere, should help you get started.

Doctors Without Borders

Human Rights Watch

Red Cross (connects to affiliated organizations around the world)

United Nations

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

World Health Organization (an agency of the UN)

Nothing But Nets (an example of an organization fighting a specific disease and its causes (malaria, in this case), and thereby fighting the disruption and death of young people in particular)


On the Libraries home page ( click on "Guides and tutorials", then search for "Academic integrity and library resources". A clear statement and brief video explain what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.

Additional information:

Search "Plagiarism" as a subject heading for books and electronic resources.  Examples:

Neville, Colin. Complete guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism.  (E-book)

Lathrop, Ann. Guiding students from cheating and plagiarism to honesty and integrity.  (Main) LB 3609 .L27 2005.