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Diversifying Course Content

A Resource for Faculty


This page illustrates strategies for how to find diverse voices both inside and outside of traditional library systems and highlights resources that start researchers on their journey.

Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) for Finding Diverse Voices

To find books written by people from historically marginalized communities first identify the Library of Congress Subject Heading (LCSH) used for that classification of person or ethnic group. Links on these pages will connect to the Library of Congress subject heading page. Some of the LCSH records include scope notes, broader and narrower terms, and other useful information that might help with your search strategies. Here are a few examples of subject headings:

Once you have identified the LCSH for the class of person, you can narrow your search by using subject heading subdivision terms to narrow your search:

For autobiographies and memoirs, use the subject term Biography (LCSH). Biography can be combined with countries, classes of people, ethnic groups, and events. Biography is not assigned to author names but if an author is a member of a class of people or ethnic group, a second subject heading may be assigned. A subject search on a subject heading for a class of persons, e.g. "African American women biography" will yield collective biographies, individual biographies and autobiographies:

  • Black women in nineteenth-century American life : their words, their thoughts, their feelings

  • The narrative of Sojourner Truth

  • Bone black : memories of girlhood by bell hooks

Primary sources are first hand or contemporary accounts of events or topics and an excellent way to identify voices of historically marginalized people. Primary sources include documents such as speeches, letters, diaries, and oral histories. Here are some subject heading terms to help locate primary sources in the library catalog:


Decolonization Subject Headings: use the following terms in a subject search to find resources that have been tagged with decolonization subject headings. 

Finding Authors Outside the Library System

Searching for authors from marginalized groups can be a difficult process in library searches. Unless you know a specific author, you will need to think outside the box to find these voices. While you may find subject headings about African American authors, or Asian authors, library catalogs do not tag every author with how they identify. 


Here are a few strategies to find authors: 

  • Search for lists of authors from marginalized communities in your field like: 

  • Search in databases specific to highlighting authors from marginalized communities in your field like:

    • Cite Black Authors: Cite Black Authors is a curated list of research by black scholars.

    • The Journals Online Platforms: The Journals Online (JOLs) project aimed to provide increased the visibility, accessibility and quality of peer-reviewed journals published in developing countries so that the research outputs produced in these countries can be found, shared and used more effectively.

  • Web search authors. Research authors for articles you have already found on your topic to see if they are a part of the community they are discussing. If you are looking at an article, you will not be able to tell their background immediately. Do not assume identity based on names. The best thing to do is research the author and see what you can uncover from their biographical information.  

  • Research diversity groups and resources associated with professional associations. Most professional associations have committees that address issues certain populations face within the field and will either provide resources or names of scholars who identify as members of the populations that you can find. The best place to look for these groups are on your professional association’s website. If there is no information on the website, contact the association directly. 

    • Look to university departments that have always centered the identities and perspectives of racialized people and communities. For example, at the University of Minnesota, there is a Race, Indigeneity, Disability, Gender & Sexuality Studies (RIDGS) collective, and the affiliated faculty experts are listed.
    • Search Google for organizations that represent marginalized groups and search their websites for special interest groups, experts, publications, data, etc. For example, perusing the digital magazine available on the National Society of Black Engineer's website to find leaders in the field.
    • Seek out a networking organization, such as ColorComm, which is an essential organization for women of color in all areas of communications including public relations, advertising print media, broadcast, and more. To look for such groups, use a variety of terms - one might be "research organizations run by people of color."
    • It can be helpful to look for underrepresented speakers at conferences. One example is this interactive tool by Diversify STEM Conferences which has compiled a list of prominent underrepresented researchers across every field of STEM and medicine.
    • Search for biographies that are led by non-profits run by racialized people, such as SACNAS, an online archive of first-person stories by and about Chicano/Hispanic and Native American scientists with advanced degrees in science.