Black Musicians in the John Johnson Collection: the Bohee Brothers by Hope Williard (Part 2: How to Search the John Johnson Collection)

In using the John Johnson collection to put together this post, I found it fascinating to use the ‘Browse’ function.  Upon clicking that tab at the top of the page, you are taken to an expandable menu featuring the five main collections:

    1. Nineteenth century entertainment: This includes both theatrical and non-theatrical performance. It can be used to study both the history and development of different forms of entertainment, as well as high and popular culture
    2. The Booktrade: Bookplates and publishing materials, useful to those studying the publishing trade as well as trying to look at the dissemination of different kinds of information during these periods
    3. Popular prints: This includes landscapes, topography and artistic works.
    4. Crime, murder, and executions: This includes broadsheets and pamphlets. It is useful for historians who study crime and punishment and well as historians of certain kinds of printing (such as woodcuts)
    5. Advertising: This section of the collection contains a wide variety of advertisements and can be used to study economic and social history as well as consumerism.

and then expand them into greater and great detail.  Not only is this quite fun – try it out on the advertisements section – but it also gives a bit of a feel for the way in which the collection is organised, and which search terms are likely to be most effective when using the collection’s search functions.

There are two of these: an in-depth search (the tab for this is next to home on the main page) and quick search function allows you to look for items that you are interested in by keyword or phrase.  If you are looking for phrases, make sure to put them in quotation marks (‘God Save the Queen’) or the search engine will look for each word individually, rather than the phrase as a phrase.  Of the two, I recommend starting out with the in-depth search, not least because you can limit your search by a variety of factors.  Collection (the five major categories mentioned above) and subject are probably the best ones to start with.  You can use the list of subjects to (click on the little arrow next to the search box) to browse for topics you are interested in.

As always, if you are having any trouble using the search engine or quick search to find items in the John Johnson Collection, please do stop by the daily Academic Subject Librarians’ drop-in, or make an appointment with the Librarian for your subject.  We will be happy to help.