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Anthropology: Find Books

Search for Books

Search Tips for Anthropology Books

Finding relevant books on a particular anthropology topic can be challenging. Understanding how to use subject terms (also known as subject headings) will be immensely helpful when searching for books. See the image below which highlights where subject terms are listed.

Finding Subject Terms

subject terms highlighted

Other Search Tips

1) Identify the assigned name of the group or the place you are researching. This is the term used by the Library of Congress. For example, the subject term for the !Kung is "!Kung (African people)" and "Navajo Indians" is the assigned subject heading for the Navajo Nation.

NOTE: Although Library of Congress subject headings do not always use the best or most current names and terms for Indigenous peoples, they remain the basis for how books are organized in most academic libraries. You can read more about problematic subject heading and the steps Miami is taking to address them here


  • The most common subject heading subheading assigned to ethnographies is "social life and customs" but "case studies"  and "ethnology" are other subheadings that may be applied.
  • The most common subject headings for archeological study are "[Place Name] --antiquities" and "excavations (archaeology) - [place name]"

2) Once you have the assigned name of the group, place or topic, search with that name and the subheading phrase. For example, search:

  • Navajo Indians social life and customs
    • OR
  • Excavations (archaeology) Africa

3) For compound phrases, try searching two ways - one without a space between words and one with a space. For example, search mound build* and moundbuild* (the asterisk will bring in results for build, building, builders, etc.) to find results about moundbuilding societies. 


Adapted from Deb Brown Stewart (University of Pennsylvania) and Jenny Bowers (University of Denver)

Additional Tips

  • You can find both print and electronic books in the MU Libraries catalog. For print items the location and call number of the item will be provided, and for ebooks a link will be given.
  • Many of our older books are in storage in the Southwest Depository or Hughes Storage facility; if you need an item in these locations, they can be retrieved upon request.
  • We also have access to print books from other Ohio college libraries; request through the OhioLink catalog.
  • If you find a book but we don't have it in our collection, you can request it through interlibrary loan
  • Books contain a lot of text and other information, but our catalogs search the words in titles, table of contents (sometimes), and subject headings.  Keep this in mind when searching for books and consider searching on broader terms rather than very precise topics.