How to do research in Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Library resources for researchers working on women’s studies, gender studies, queer studies, and LGBTQIA+ studies


Topic-specific keywords will help improve your results in a general multidisciplinary database like Google, Google Scholar, HOLLIS, or Academic Search Premier

Add keywords like these to your search:

  • Women, gender, queer, LGBT, “sexual identity,” etc.
  • Domain or profession – economy, society, “mental health,”  race, homefront, “social media,” medicine, domestic, politician
  • Geographic terms - “United States,” Africa, urban, rural 
  • Time periods - 18th century, 21st century, medieval 
  • Schools, movements, theoretical approaches - suffrage,  “transgender rights,” “second wave feminism,”  “Combahee river collective”
  • Organization names - “center for reproductive rights”
  • Format - statistics, films, zines, memoirs, biography, archives, images



The best tool for your project may be a specialized search engine, also known as a database. These databases are subject-specific or format-specific search tools:

GenderWatch (via HarvardKey) —  This database is often the best first stop for accessing scholarly studies  (books, journals, dissertations, reviews) on all aspects and expressions of gender roles, gender identity, gender difference, and gender equity. Three reasons we recommend Gender Watch:  1) its interdisciplinarity; 2) its geographical breadth; and 3) its inclusion of many gender-related newsletters and magazines that are less mainstream but still influential to debate and discussion.

LGBTQ+ Source (via HarvardKey) —  An excellent, focused database of scholarly research, some primary source materials, and magazines.  

Dig Deeper

The WGS Concentrator's Toolkit recommends additional databases and other resources for a variety of topics and methodologies in Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies. 

Databases for Women Gender and Sexuality- Explore the full list of Harvard Library databases for this subject.


Susan Gilroy, Research Librarian and library liaison for WGS is available to support members of the  Harvard community via email and consultation (Zoom or in person) at any (and every) stage of the research process. . 

For primary sources, Research Librarian Tamar Gonen Brown, at the Schlesinger Library, is also available for questions and consultations.

Featured Collection

Harvard’s Schlesinger Library is considered the leading center for scholarship on the history of women in the United States, with collections that span civil rights and feminism, health and sexuality, work and family life, education and the professions, and culinary history and etiquette. The Library’s incredible primary source collections are matched by the incredible expertise of its curators.  

Service Alert:
  • Some Harvard Library locations will be closed or have special hours for Commencement, Thursday, May 26. Please check the Library Hours page for specifics. Ask a Librarian and chat hours will remain as usual.
  • Most Harvard Library locations will be closed Monday, May 30 and Tuesday, May 31, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday. Ask a Librarian and chat service will be closed on these dates.
  • If you're experiencing an ongoing technical issue when you attempt to access library materials with your HarvardKey during these times, please report it to Library Technology Services.



Monday - Thursday 9am-6pm

Chat is intended for brief inquiries from the Harvard community.


Talk to a librarian for advice on defining your topic, developing your research strategy, and locating and using sources. Make an appointment now.

These services are intended primarily for Harvard University faculty, staff and students. If you are not affiliated with Harvard, please use these services only to request information about the Library and its collections.