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Southern Studies

by Gretchen M. Smith last modified Apr 28, 2016 04:30 PM

Gretchen Smith is the Southern Studies Subject Librarian; she will be glad to answer your questions about research, instruction, or the library's collections. You can contact Gretchen by phone or e-mail, or visit her in person at the Tarver Library.

Need help citing sources?  If you're using MLA, APA, or Chicago style, check out the guide from OWL at Purdue for help formatting your citations.  You can also bring your reference list to the Ask Jack desk, and a librarian will check your citations.

College of Liberal Arts, Southern Studies

These pages traditionally include links to databases, journals, books, reference sources, and useful web sites for a particular discipline. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this program, you may also want to look at the English and History pages, as well as looking at the other subject guides if you're focusing on a specific topic such as Christianity in the South.

Gretchen is available to discuss a specific program of study or arrange for individualized instruction for an individual or a group. Please let her know how she can best provide resources for you!

Recommended Databases

America: History and Life (EBSCO) - A comprehensive bibliography of articles on the history and culture of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present. Offers abstracts and citations for articles in roughly 1,800 journals published worldwide in history, related humanities, and the social sciences. Includes citations to book and media reviews from approximately 140 major journals of American history and culture and relevant dissertations from Dissertation Abstracts International.

JSTOR - Provides access to complete back files of core journals in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. The University Libraries subscribe to the Arts & Sciences I, II, and III and Health & General Sciences, which include a variety of history journals. 

JSTOR's agreement with publishers includes an updating provision referred to as a "moving wall," which is a fixed period of time ranging, in most cases, from 2 to 5 years that defines the gap between the most recently published issue of any journal and the date of the most recent issue available in JSTOR. This database began to include some current content in 2011. The University Libraries are not yet subscribing to this current content. Tarver librarians created this guide to help students using this database.

Dissertations and Theses Full Text (ProQuest) - Covers dissertations accepted at accredited U.S. institutions since 1861. Selectively covers Master's theses and Canadian, British, and other international dissertations. Most dissertations since 1997 (and some earlier dissertations) are available in full text.

MLA International Bibliography (EBSCO) - Index of literature, languages, linguistics, literary theory and criticism, dramatic arts, and folklore from over 4,400 journals and serials, as well as books, essay collections, working papers, proceedings, dissertations, and bibliographies.

Civil War in the American South - A central portal to access digital collections from the Civil War Era (1850-1865) held by members of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL). Many special or unique manuscripts, photographs, books, newspapers, broadsides, and other materials have been digitized to provide broader access to these documents. The shared collection continues to grow, providing ready access to a world-class collection of primary source materials from the American Civil War era. 

WorldCat (FirstSearch) - The world's most comprehensive bibliography with entries representing books and other resources spanning 4,000 years of knowledge from libraries around the world.

Academic Search Complete (EBSCO)  - Includes more than 6,100 full-text periodicals (over 5,100 of which are peer-reviewed), and also offers indexing and abstracts for monographs, reports, conference proceedings, etc. The database is updated daily and features PDF images of articles from 1887 with the majority of full-text titles in searchable PDF format.

Oxford English Dictionary Online - Recognized as the accepted authority on the evolution of the English language over the last millennium, the OED provides definitions, etymological analysis, and quotations to demonstrate the use of words in the English language over time. This web-based version includes all information in the print counterpart and adds at least 1,000 new and revised entries each quarter. The publisher, Oxford University Press, provides extensive information about the dictionary and its use on their web site.

Literary Reference Center (EBSCO) - Combines information from major reference works, books, and literary journals as well as original content from EBSCO Publishing. Included are thousands of plot summaries, synopses, and work overviews; literary criticism; author biographies; full-text of over 430 literary journals; book reviews; classic and contemporary poems and short stories; full-text of over 7,000 classic novels; author interviews; and images of key literary figures.


HarpWeek - Searchable access to Harper's Weekly: 1857-1912. America's leading 19th century illustrated newspaper provides information on domestic and foreign life. Users can track the major political, social, and military stories of the day, along with the editorial comment, humor, literature, and even gossip related to them.

The Atlanta Journal, the Atlanta Constitution - Serials Microfilm, 2nd Floor
The Jack Tarver Library has the Atlanta Constitution/Atlanta Journal-Constitution on microfilm from 1868. (NOTE: we have only the Atlanta Constitution from 1868 until the newspapers merged, not the Journal. The two papers published combined editions on Sundays from 1950-1976 and on Saturdays and Sundays from 1976-2001. If you find a Journal citation, you'll need to see if it exists in our microfilm or if you'll have to request it from Interlibrary Loan. Because the papers came under joint ownership in 1950, the titles are murky. See this article for more information.) These microfilm reels are located on the second floor, along with the indexes from 1984-1996. If you need assistance in using either of these tools, please see either the Circulation or Reference desk on the main floor for help. For articles from 1868-1945, try this search engine from the AJC. This engine covers 1985 to the present. (Please note that full text articles on these sites must be purchased. You may use the sites to find the citation information and then use the microfilm reels on the second floor. We do not currently have a resource to find information between 1945-1984.)

Macon Telegraph Archive - Provides online access to early issues of the Macon Telegraph in its various daily and weekly forms from 1826-1908. Consisting of over 50,000 newspaper pages, the archive provides historical images that are both full-text searchable and can be browsed by date. NOTE: you will need to download a free plugin to view these pages. In addition, the newspaper is available on microfilm (through 2006) on the second floor of Tarver.


The Journal of Southern Religion - The first scholarly journal devoted to the study of religion in the American South. The journal is fully peer-reviewed, reflecting the best traditions of critical scholarship. It is an open-access publication, published free of cost in its entirety on the Internet. The JSR publishes articles and book reviews, as well as new media.

A number of print journals relating to the South are available on the 1st floor and shelved alphabetically by title. 

Search the library catalog by journal title to get a listing of the print journal titles available.
Search Full Text Finder to identify which e-journals are available.


Search the library catalog to find books and other resources available in the Mercer University Libraries. Don't forget to check the location in the record. If the item you need is at another Mercer library, use the "Request" button (top left) to have it delivered to your library. For additional information on finding items in the catalog and on the shelves, view this guide. Items not available in the University Libraries may be requested via Interlibrary Loan.

Circulating books are available on the 3rd floor of the Tarver Library and are arranged by the Library of Congress classification system. Reference items on the 2nd floor use the same call numbering scheme but may not be checked out. A number of books on Southern history and the Civil War are also available in the Tom Watson Brown Collection in the back right corner of the 1st floor; these may be checked out.

Selected call numbers include:

  • E 441 - 453 Slavery in the United States. Antislavery movements.
  • E 456 - 655 Civil War period, 1861-1865
  • F 206 - 220 The South. South Atlantic States
  • F 221 - 250 Virginia and West Virginia
  • F 251 - 280 The Carolinas
  • F 281 - 295 Georgia
  • F 296 - 395 Gulf States. West Florida
  • F 306 - 320 Florida
  • F 321 - 335 Alabama
  • F 336 - 355 Mississippi
  • F 366 - 380 Louisiana
  • F 381 - 395 Texas
  • F 396 Old Southwest. Lower Mississippi Valley
  • F 431 - 445 Tennessee
  • F 446 - 460 Kentucky

The Lamar Lecture series, made possible by the bequest of the late Eugenia Dorothy Blount Lamar, began in 1957. The series promotes the permanent preservation of Southern culture, history, and literature. Given each fall, it is recognized as the most important lecture series on Southern history and literature in the United States. Speakers have included nationally and internationally known scholars, such as Cleanth Brooks, James C. Cobb, and Eugene Genovese. All lectures are original and are then published as books by The University of Georgia Press.

Additional lectures vary by year. Check the Southern Studies website for updates.

Recommended Sources

Documenting the American South - Sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this site includes digitized primary sources from several collections. Items include texts, images, and audio files related to Southern history, literature, and culture from the colonial period through the first decades of the 20th century.

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Reference, F209 .N47 2006, 24 volumes that cover such topics as religion, history, food, music, and sports in the South.

The Archive of The Martin Luther King Center - The King Center Imaging Project, financed and overseen by JPMorgan Chase, offers free public access to the papers.  Highlights include the handwritten draft, complete with cross-outs, of Martin Luther King's acceptance speech for the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize; notes about the ending of King's iconic “I Have a Dream” speech; and the charming letters he received from children.  These and other King papers – 200,000 documents in all – were made available online for the first time as the nation marked Martin Luther King Day in 2012.

Special Collections & Archives (third floor of Tarver, all the way to the left) includes a number of primary and secondary sources that document the South.

Media collections at Tarver are on the main floor and include such items as DVDs (e.g., the Ken Burns Civil War documentary; The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow), audio books (e.g., Letters from Lee's Army; Coming of Age in Mississippi), and CDs (e.g., Anthology of American Folk Music, Voices of the Civil Rights Movement).   



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