The Library of Congress > American Memory
banner image
return to home page table of contents about the guide abbreviations search banner image

The General Collections



Starting Places
Secondary Sources
Microform Materials
arrow graphicDoctoral Dissertations
Congressional Documents
Indexes to Anthologies
Biographical Sources
Women's Writings
Other Sources




Doctoral Dissertations
see caption below

Savagery to “civilization”. Joseph Ferdinand, artist. 1914. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZC2-1189 (color film copy neg.)

bibliographic record

Dissertation subjects are extremely varied. To give just five examples:

  • Basque women in the American West
  • roles of Iroquois women
  • women art collectors
  • Latina political activism
  • history of infant feeding in Chicago
The Library of Congress is the only institution in the country to purchase microform or electronic versions of all doctoral dissertations filmed by University Microfilms, which means most U.S. dissertations. Complete dissertations since the 1940s are available on film or fiche in the Microform Reading Room and, since 1997, in full text on computer terminals at the Library. Doctoral theses contain in-depth research on an enormous variety of subjects; all have bibliographies and notes to lead to other sources. Serious researchers should look for dissertations on their topics.

A general search in the online dissertation indexes combining the keywords “women,” “United States,” and “history” yields more than two thousand dissertations; more specific searches would identify many others. Some additional dissertations, from universities that did not submit their dissertations to University Microfilms, were acquired in print form and appear in the card and online catalogs. Dissertations covering music and law, subjects usually accessed through other reading rooms, are found in the Microform Reading Room with most other dissertations. The Library only rarely collects master's theses or foreign dissertations.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: There are three indexes to dissertations—one print set and two subscription databases:

  • Dissertation Abstracts (with title changes, supplements, and cumulations) (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms, 1938-; Z5053.D57 MRR Alc, and other call numbers)
  • ProQuest Digital Dissertations
  • Dissertation Abstracts Online
Subject access is by very broad descriptors or by keyword searches of the title and, since 1980, of the abstract. A researcher must diligently try all synonyms, plurals, and broader and narrower terms that might yield results. Both databases cover the same materials, but only Digital Dissertations indicates which dissertations are available in full text online.

red line
Home Table of Contents About the Guide Abbreviations Search
The Library of Congress> > American Memory