University of Oregon

Index for this guide:

Take a Tour
Consult a Guide
Read an Encyclopedia Article
Consult a Biographical Resource
Find a Book on your subject
Read Record Jacket Notes
Look up Articles in Indexes
Browse the Blues Magazines
Read the Blues Lyrics
Web Sites on the Blues
Cite your References in MLA style

Research Guides

The Blues Guide to the Knight Library's Music Services Dept.

(A Step-by-step Guide to doing Research
on the Blues)

I. Take a tour of the library.

Contact the Music Librarian, Ann Shaffer, at x6-6-1850 or by e-mail at


    II. Consult a guide about resources in Blues research:

    A Blues Bibliography.
    New York: Routledge, 2007.
    [MUSIC REF. ML128 .B49 F67 2007]

    The blues: a bibliographical guide.
    New York: Garland Pub., 1989.
    [MUSIC REF. ML128.B49 H3 1989]

      III. Read about the Blues and individual Blues performers in the following encyclopedias:

      The New Grove dictionary of American music.
      New York, N.Y.: Grove's Dictionaries of Music, 1986. 4 v.
      [MUSIC REF. ML101.U6N48 1986 v.1-v.4]

      Encyclopedia of the blues.
      New York: Routledge, 2006. 2 v..
      [MUSIC REF. ML102.B6 E53 2006 v.1-v.2]


        IV. Read about Blues performers in the following biographical resources:

        The big book of blues: a biographical encyclopedia.
        New York, N.Y.: Penguin, 1993.
        [MUSIC REF. ML102.B6 S26 1993]

        Blues who's who: a biographical dictionary of Blues singers.
        New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, c1979.
        [MUSIC REF. ML102.B6 H3]

        Encyclopedia of the blues.
        Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1997.
        [MUSIC REF. ML102.B6 H413 1997]


          V. Find a Book on the Blues and Performers:

          Use the UO Local Catalog and click on the SUBJECT tab to search for books about the Blues or about a performer.
          Be sure to put the performer's name in last name first!


            VI. Read the back of recordings and discographies for information on the Blues and Blues performers, as listed in the following resources:

            The UO's Douglass Room Resources (and how to find them):


            To reach most of the Douglass Room's resources, click on the UO Library's home page on the left, under Videos & Music and scroll down to the music section.





            • Search our Discographies for our listing of blues artists in our Blues Discography.
              [Available on the web at ]

            • Click on Browse by Genres to see what compact discs we have under the Blues.

            • If you are looking for a specific blues artist, use the UO Local Catalog under Author to search our collection of performers. Put their names in last name first- and you will get all the books, music and recordings that they have authored or on which they have played.

            Other Resources for Finding Blues Performers' Recordings (and Reviews):


             African American Song
            An online audio database available to UO community members that features recordings from African American history, including cuts from Memphis Minnie, Huddie Ledbetter, as well as gospel and jazz recordings.
            Each recording comes with liner notes and information about the performers.
            Access to this collection is found by going to the UO Library's Videos & Music site, then clicking on Audio Resources Online.

            All music guide to the blues: the definitive guide to the blues.
            San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2003.
            [MUSIC REF. ML156.4.B6 A45 2003]

            The Blackwell guide to recorded blues.
            London: Blackwell Publishing, 1991.
            [MUSIC REF. ML156.4.B6 B6 1991]

            The Rolling stone record guide: reviews and ratings of almost 10, 000 currently available rock, pop, soul, country, blues, jazz, and gospel albums.
            New York: Random House, c1979.
            [MUSIC ML156.4.P6 M37]

            Smithsonian Global Sound
            Another online audio database the provides access to the complete Folkways and Smithsonian recording archives, with copious liner notes and access to early recordings of blues singers, as well as all other genres of folk music.
            Access to this database is the same as described in the African American Song description.


              VII. Search the following indexes for articles on Blues performers and the Blues in general.

              Music Article Indexes:

              The Music index.
              Paper = 1949-2001; online=1973 to the present.
              (1990 - 2001 on the MUSIC REFERENCE INDEX TABLE)
              [MUSIC REF. ML 118 .M84]
              Available from the UO Library's web site under Articles, Databases and Indexes, then click on the Subject List under Music.

              RILM Abstracts [Repertoire international de litterature musicale]
              Paper = 1967- 1995; Online= 1967 to the present.
              (1972- 1995 on MUSIC REFERENCE INDEX TABLE)
              [MUSIC ML REF. 118 .R4]
              Also available from the UO Library's web site under Articles, Databases and Indexes, then click on the Subject List under Music.

              Music Article Guide.
              LIBRARY HAS: 1(1966)-23(1988),25(1990)-38(1996)
              [MUSIC REF. ML 118 .M842]


                Indexes to articles on the Blues in sociological and cultural settings, as well as in literature:


                Academic Search Premier
                [A generic article index that provides full-text access to online journals.]
                (search Subject= su:Blues- Music)

                MLA International Bibliography
                [The Modern Language Association's index-for literary and folklore references]
                (search Subject= su:Blues- Music or su:blues- lyrics)

                Sociological Abstracts
                (search Subject= su:Blues- Music or su:blues- lyrics)

                  [Use the Articles, Databases & Indexes connection mentioned above, and click on Database List A-Z to find the following resources:]


                VIII. Browse the following specialty journals and magazines for articles on the Blues and its performers:



                Blues unlimited.
                Library has 1972 - 1987
                [MUSIC ML1.B58]

                Jazz journal and jazz & blues.
                1974 at this title; 1950 - 1973 as Jazz Journal
                [MUSIC ML5 .J316]

                Living blues.
                LIBRARY HAS: 3(1970),35(1977)-37(1978),43(1979),47(1980)-present.
                [MUSIC ML 1 .L57]


                  General resources on the music industry and the Blues:

                  LIBRARY HAS: vol. 80 (1968) - vol. 87 (1975)  (paper edition)
                  [MUSIC ML 1 .B512]
                  An historic archive of the magazine from 1976 to the present is available in the Microforms Department of the Knight Library under the same call number as the paper edition.
                  More recent copies are available on the UO web catalog in full text on Academic Search Premier, since 1994.
                  Google Books has partnered with Billboard to create a full-image scanned archive of Billboard back issues spanning 1940-2010 (some gaps in coverage; mainly browsable, searching capabilities limited.)

                  Black Grooves (Archives of African-American Music and Culture at Indiana University)
                  A review blog covering new publications (both print and A/V) of new and reissued material by African-American performers and composers, or about African-American musical genres and topics. Available online at

                  Down Beat
                  LIBRARY HAS 1954 - present on paper; 1937 - last year on Microfilm.
                  Online copies are available on the UO web catalog in full text on Academic Search Premier, since 1984. To get to this index, click on Articles, Databases & Indexes, then Database List A-Z.
                  [MUSIC ML 1 .D6]

                  Rolling Stone
                  LIBRARY HAS: 1968 - 1990 and 2007 - present in paper.
                  [MUSIC ML 1 .R6]
                  Historic collection is available on microfilm in the Microforms Department of the Knight Library (1967 - 1976).
                  Also available on the UO web catalog in full text on Academic Search Premier, since 1963.             
                  To get to this index, click on Articles, Databases & Indexes, then Database List A-Z.
                  [Note:There is also an index by performer to the magazine in The Rolling stone index: twenty-five years of popular culture, 1967-1991, which is available at MUSIC ML1 .R65]


                    IX. Research Blues lyrics in the following resources:

                    Blues lyric poetry: a concordance.
                    New York: Garland Pub., 1984. 3 v.
                    [KNIGHT PS309.B55T33 1984 v.1- v.3]

                    Downhome blues lyrics: an anthology from the post-World War II era. 2nd ed.
                    Urbana: University of Illinois Press, c1990.
                    [KNIGHT PS591.N4 D6 1990]

                    [Note: Don't forget that many performers' record jackets include the lyrics to their songs.
                    You can also search for individual songs by keyword in the UO Local Catalog to find songs in recordings, as well as songs in music score collections.]


                      X. Consult the following Blues and Music-related Web Sites:

                      Archives of African American Music and Culture (Indiana University)

                      The Blue Highway
                      A great source for blues history and personalities.

                      Center for Black Music Research (Columbia College, Chicago, IL)


                        XI. Citing your references, using the MLA Handbook:

                        For many disciplines in the humanities, the MLA Handbook is the style to use. Try to use the latest edition, because it will include things like web site citations.


                        For copies of the latest edition of the MLA Handbook, see the Knight Reference collection, behind the reference desk, at LB 2369 .G53 2003; there is also a copy in Music Reference (on the third floor) under the same call number.


                          Examples of MLA Handbook form:


                          CITING AN ENCYCLOPEDIA ARTICLE:





                          • Name of author of article (if different from editor)-in reverse order. "Title of the article." (as it appears in the encyclopedia). Name of the encyclopedia (underlined). Editor of the encyclopedia (if not the person listed as the author of the article.) Number of volumes. City of Publication (and state, if the city isn't commonly known): Name of publisher, date of publication.


                              See: MLA 5.6.8

                          CITING A BOOK:





                          • Name of author(s) (with the first one reversed). Title of the book. (underlined). Edition (if it is not the first edition). Place of publication (including the state, if the city isn't commonly known): Name of publisher, date of publication.


                              See: MLA 5.6.1

                          CITING A JOURNAL/MAGAZINE ARTICLE:





                          • Name of author of the article (in reverse order)-if there isn't an author, the title goes first. "Title of the article." Name of the journal (underlined) Volume of the article (if there is one- if not, put the month and the year as is- if a volume, put (year of publication) in parentheses: page number(s).


                              See: MLA 5.7.1

                          CITING A WEB SITE:





                          • Author of the web site (if you can find one)-in reverse order. "Title of the section you looked at." (if not the whole site) Title of the web site. (underlined) Publication date(s) (if you can find one-usually at the bottom of the home screen- if none, put n.d.) Name of the producing body or organization. Date you accessed the web site-with the day, then the abbreviated month, then the year, then the web site address.


                              See: MLA 5.9.1.

                          For other clues on how to cite items from the Web, see Citing Electronic Resources


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                            Created by ashaffer on Jun 18, 2012 Last updated Mar 13, 2013
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