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African Ethnology

Physical & Online Sources

Please note that this guide may include pointers to some physical resources in the Boston University Libraries that are not accessible to some or all users due to the person's location or due to access changes put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. For additional help, contact the guide author or get general help at 

Finding Books in the Library

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Click on the book covers to access via BU Library Search.


Finding works on African ethnic groups in the Catalog

Start with the name of the ethnic group, for example, Zulu. Most works will be grouped under the subject heading Zulu (African People), but doing the more general search may yield many interesting works.

If you can't find any entries under the form of name you have, check reference books to determine other possible terms used to indicate this group.

The subject headings for any books you find can help to expand your search. If you know what nation or nations they inhabit, try the country name and ethnology.

Browsing for works about African ethnic groups on the shelves.

A great many of the works on African peoples will be found in the classification range of GN, particularly in GN 643 - GN 661, and GN 861 - GN 865. Browsing these shelves can be helpful, but books may also be found in the DT section, and in many other call number sections. The best way of finding books is searching the catalog.

BU Library Search has a great feature called "Virtual Browse" that allows you to see other books shelved next to the one you selected. 

Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

Getting Books Not Available at BU

There are several ways you can obtain books or articles that we do not own. These include:

  • WorldCat Discovery. WorldCat Discovery allows current BU faculty, staff, and students to borrow books directly from other Boston Library Consortium libraries. Turnaround time is approximately three working days. (How to use WorldCat Discovery)

  • Interlibrary Loan. Interlibrary Loan services allow current BU faculty, staff, and students to request books, articles, book chapters, and other materials that our ILL staff will obtain from other libraries. Books generally take 2-4 weeks to arrive; articles are generally delivered electronically within 1-2 days.

  • BLC Cards. A Boston Library Consortium Card allows the bearer to borrow—in person—circulating material from a member library, just as you would from a BU library. Boston University faculty, staff, and students on the Charles River Campus may obtain a Consortium Card by filling out an application form. Medical Campus affiliates apply at the Alumni Medical Library.

Head, African Studies Library

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Beth Restrick
African Studies Library
6th floor, Mugar Memorial Library

Mon-Fri, 9am- 5pm
Subjects: African Studies