The Chadwyck-Healey Database of African-American Poetry

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Getting Started
  3. Search Basics


The Chadwyck-Healey Database of African American Poetry contains over 2,500 poems written by 54 African-American poets from 1760-1900. The poets and their works were selected from Afro-American Poetry and Drama, 1760-1975 by William French (available in the IU Research Collections at REF Z1229.N39 F73).

The Database of African-American Poetry will help you find poems, locate quotations, and explore poetry in ways unavailable with printed texts. Also, this collection contains many works not otherwise available in the IU Libraries.

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Getting Started

To access the DAAP open Internet Explorer on one of the computers at the LETRS center. The first screen you see will be the LETRS homepage. Choose LETRS Online Resources, underlined on the LETRS homepage, and then choose Database of African-American Poetry, highlighted in blue under LETRS resources. Upon opening the DAAP you will see DAAP's Main Menu page with five options. To choose an option simply click on the blue print.

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Search Basics

The different searching options in the DAAP allow you to search the database in several different ways.The Bibliography Search will identify the title or get bibliographical data for a particular poem. The Proximity Search will identify quotations and whole or partial lines in the same poem. Word Searches will find all the poems that contain a particular word,or references to a particular person, Frederick Douglass, for example. Both Boolean searches and Proximity searches look for combinations within one single poem. Use Word Search to find occurrences of a single term in many different titles. For example, you can use the Proximity search to locate all the titles of poems that contain a particular combination of words. For example, typing in "ear, eye, tear" in each search box on the Proximity page yields a list of three poems that contain these three search terms together. You can limit your search to a particular period by pointing to the appropriate time period code in the Restrict Search box.

Search Screens and Options

DAAP has a different search screen for each of the searching options. Each screen is equipped with blanks in which to type your term or terms. On the Proximity Search page and Boolean Search page the blanks are connected by boxes that contain pop-up menus. To activate a menu, locate your cursor in the box, click and hold until the menu appears. Each Search Page uses a default search setting, but you can change the setting by using the pop-up menus.

Simple Searches include single word searches and single phrase searches. Use Simple Searches to find the same word or phrase in poems throughout the entire database.

Proximity Searches identify quotations, whole or partial lines where they appear within the same poem. Type your quote into the search blanks, then use the Proximity Search menu to select the number of lines of text you wish to separate the words, a range of 40 to 120 lines.

Boolean Searches. A Boolean operator is a word that connects two or more search terms. They are : AND, NEAR, NOT, OR. On the Boolean Search menu select one of these operators by clicking on the pop-up menus between the blanks on the screen. Both Boolean Searches and Proximity Searches look for combinations of terms within a single poem.

The Bibliography Search allows you to search for a work by a particular author, or to identify an unknown title or first line. Choose between Title, Author and Citation on the pop-up menu.

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Sample Search One:

To find a poem by a particular author select Bibliography Search from the main menu. Type Dunbar in the first blank and press Search. The title of Dunbar's collected works will appear on your screen along with a brief bibliography. Clicking on the title produces a list of the contents, with each title highlighted in blue. To view Dunbar's Sunset, scroll down until you see the name of the poem and click on it. The entire poem will appear on your screen.

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Sample Search Two:

Find where these lines from Ann Plato appear: "When in the morning's misty hour,/When the sun beems gently o'er each flower;".

There are several ways to find this phrase, but one way isto use a Proximity Search to find a combination, such as "misty hour and flower":

  1. Select Proximity Search from the Main Menu
  2. Type misty hour in the first box
  3. Use Tab to move to the second box.
  4. Type flower in the second box.
  5. Select "Search" by locating your cursor in the search blank

DAAP will present you with a results screen displaying one match.The title of the poem Forget Me Not appears highlighted in blue, and the quotation appears underneath it. You can read the whole poem by clicking on the title.

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If you find that you are unable to search the way you'd like, there are other methods of searching that can be explained by a consultant at LETRS in the Main Library. Please leave a comment, including your name and phone number or email address if you wish a reply, or call LETRS at 855-3877 (85LETRS) for more information.

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Last Updated: 03/07/2001
Comments: Library Electronic Text Resource Service /
Indiana University