Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas University

Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies

Searching for Books

Using Search It, you can find books on your topics that can provide historical and cultural context—or just provide you with a new perspective. There are a number of ways you can search for books, such as by title or author if you know it, but sometimes you need to do more specific searching—and for that, I recommend using Library of Congress Subject Headings.

By searching for subject headings, you are searching for what the items are about, rather than what words the record might contain. How do you know what the Subject Headings are? If you have found a book and are looking at its details in Search It, you can look to see what Subject Headings it is being classified with. You can click on a Subject Heading in the item's details tab to view other books listed under that same Subject Heading.

Additionally, from Search It Advanced page, you can put in a Subject Heading that you already know and change the Search By to "in subject" on the K-state Libraries Only tab. Here's a picture of what that looks like: 

Example of a Subject Heading Search

For example, if you were researching information about different topics in women's studies, you could try some of the following subject headings:

  • Feminism--United States--History--20th century
  • Feminism--History--20th century
  • Feminism--History
  • Feminism
  • Feminists
  • Globalization
  • Feminist Theory
  • Multiculturalism
  • Culture Conflict
  • Sex Discrimination Against Women
  • Leadership in Women
  • Women --Crimes Against
  • Minority Women --Crimes Against
  • Minority Women --Violence Against
  • Family Violence
  • Women's studies--Periodicals
  • Women in Mass Media
  • Media, Culture and Society Series
  • Mass Media and Minorities --United States

You may not agree with the subject heading (especially in history and the social sciences, when the terms can be laden with social, political, and ethical connotations and may seem to reflect one perspective over another). If it helps, subject headings are sometimes reviewed and may be updated as certain terms fall out of use or their biases are reevaluated. Two years ago, the subject heading cookery was replaced with cooking. It's best not to dwell on how long we were forced to use the term cookery.

Figuring Out a Subject Heading

How do you figure out a subject heading?

My method is to start with a keyword search and look at any book on my topic (whether or not I intend to read it.) If I look at the full details for a book I'll see the word Subjects followed by one or two (or more!) subject headings. Click on one, and you'll be taken to a list of additional resources with the same subject heading.