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Research Guides

Black Canadian Studies

Keyword Search Example

Basic Example: Find books on Black History in Ontario

    1. Enter blacks ontario history
    2. Use one of the "Refine your search" options to the left in the catalogue, e.g., click on "Blacks" under "Subject" to narrow down to books that are about African Canadians
    3. Click on a title that you like
    4. Note the library that the book is located in, and the call number

Keyword Search Tips


  • rosemary brown biography (to find a biography of politician, Rosemary Brown)

  • black loyalists nova scotia (to find books about black loyalists in nova scotia)
  • somali* immigra* canad* (to find books about Somali immigration and immigrants to Canada).

TIP: Use an asterisk to find different word endings:

  • canad* finds canada and canadian
  • immigra* finds immigration, immigrate, and immigrant
  • somali* finds somali, somalis, somalian and somalians

Keyword & Subject Searching

Librarians use subject headings to describe what books are about in the catalogue. You can use these subject headings to find more books.

  • One good way of using subject headings is to start with a keyword search to find a few books on your topic
  • Choose one good book and click on its title
  • Look at the 'Subjects' listed on the page
  • Click on them to find more books on your topic
  • Make a note of them for future searches

Subject Headings

Knowing how subject headings work can help you choose your keywords. You can also start off with a subject search by choosing 'subject' from the drop-down menu when you enter your terms.

Our subject headings come from the Library of Congress. Here some examples:

Black Canadians
Haitian Canadians

Some headings are subdivided to narrow down the place or time:

Blacks--Ontario--North Buxton--History--19th Century
Haitians--Québec (Province)--Montréal

Further examples:

Artists, Black--Canada
Students, Black
Women, Black--Canada
Blacks in Literature
Canadian Drama, Black authors
Caribbean Canadian Women
Racially mixed people--Canada
Youth, Black--Ontario--Toronto

People and organizations - enter the name of a person with the family name first:

Peterson Oscar
Angelique Marie-Joseph
Brand Dionne
Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

Events, movements, things

Underground Railroad
World War 1939-1945 Canada

Notice that subject headings can be awkward, uncomprehensive, out of date. For example, there is no subject heading for Black Gay men. You could use keywords instead.