Divinity Library Marquand Chapel steeple

Reference Services & Research Assistance

The library staff is available to assist you in using the library's resources and conducting research. We are here to help you, both for quick questions and for more extensive research consultations. On this page you will find information on how reach the library staff, as well as specific reference resources that may be helpful to you.

Reference Assistance

Email a Divinity Librarian


Visit the Reference Office


Ask Yale Library


Research Tools

  • Research Guide for Christianity: Comprehensive listing of both print and electronic resources for the study of Christianity. Organized by both subject area and resource type.
  • ORBIS: Online Catalog for the Yale University Library
  • Databases & Article Searching
    • Find Database: Alphabetical list of all the electronic databases available at the Yale libraries.
    • Find Articles: Search across a preselected set of databases for journal articles.
    • Multi-Database Search: Select a subject area to search across multiple databases.

Frequently Asked Questions

Email a Divinity Librarian

You can send an email to the Divinity Library's Reference Email or to one of the librarians directly. We welcome both questions and comments. We try to respond to most emails within a day or on Monday for emails received over the weekend.

Email addresses for other library staff members are listed in the Staff Directory.


Databases & Article Searching

There are a number of options for using databases to search for journal articles as well as for locating other kinds of information. Each of these options can be accessed from the Yale University Library's Databases & Article Searching page. If you would like information on how each of these options for database searching works, click on one of the links below:

  1. Find Database
  2. Find Articles
  3. Multi-Database Search

Find Database

Use this option if there is a specific database you want to use. For example, if you know you want to search in the Religion & Philosophy Collection database, use Find Database and either type "Religion & Philosophy Collection" in the searchbox, and then hit the GO button:search for a database
or select the first letter and scroll through the list to find the link which will take you to the database you want:find databasescroll to find

Return to Top

Find Articles

Use this option to search for journal articles across a set of databases selected by Yale librarians. Type your search term or terms in the search boxes, and hit the the GO button:Find Articles

To launch a search across databases for religious studies and theology, use the Philosophy+Religion option: Find Articles a topic

It is important to understand when using Find Articles that the databases are already selected for you, and that you cannot deselect any of the databases from the set you are searching. For example, when you use the default General search in Find Articles, you are searching in the following databases, none of which are specifically focused on religious studies:

  • Academic Search Premier
  • Business Source Complete
  • Econlit
  • IBSS: International Bibliography of the Social Sciences
  • Social Science Fulltext

Similarly, when you use the Philosophy+Religion option, the databases are already selected for you, as follows:

  • ATLA/Atlas Religion Database
  • Francis
  • Index Islamicus
  • Philosopher's Index

If you want more options for selecting the specific databases to search, it may be better to use Multi-Database Search or to select a specific individual database using Find Database.

Return to Top

Multi-Database Search

Use this option to select a subject area and search across multiple databases. While the Find Articles Philosophy+Religion option (described above) allows you to search several databases in the combined areas of philosophy and religion at once, Multi-Database Search provides more options for searching specific areas within the field of religious studies as well as for selecting the specific databases within which to search.

The first step is to select the subject area within which you would like to search:subject area

Once you have selected a subject area, subtopics within your subject area will be suggested for you. You can opt to search within the larger subject area or you can select a subtopic within that subject area.subtopic

Once you have selected a topic or subtopic, a number of databases will be suggested for your search. You can opt to search across all of them by leaving them all checked. You can also uncheck those databases that you don't want to search.

deselect databases

Once you've decided on the databases you want to search, type your search term or terms in the search boxes and hit the GO button to launch your search.

multi-database search

Return to Top

Language Resources

The study of religion often requires the knowledge of languages other than English, including Hebrew and Greek for Biblical Studies; Latin, German and French for the study of theology; Hebrew, Aramaic, and other languages for the study of the Ancient Near East. The following online resources are available to assist you in working with the diversity of languages involved in the study of religion:

Aleph-Bet on the Net
Tutorials designed to reinforce vocabulary and spelling for beginning students of modern Hebrew.
Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon
The CAL database search page currently offers complete CAL lemma search, search for English glosses, text browse, Targum studies module, basic concordance search, advanced search by multiple text number(s), and advanced search by dialect. You can also generate concordances on the screen for selected words, have the option of browsing specific Aramaic texts with the option of word analysis. The Targum search page allows you to view and analyze a given biblical verse in all its available Aramaic versions. You can also search for the translation of an English word into Aramaic.
Corpus dei Manoscritti Copti Letterari
The CMCL is an enterprise dedicated to the study of Egyptian Christian culture in the I-XII centuries C.E., especially for the documents in Coptic language. This web site contains the archives of the CMCL: texts, grammar, history of literature, catalogue of manuscripts, bibliography. One can consult the list of the authors and works of the Coptic literature with information on manuscripts, content, and critical problems; the list of the Coptic codices either well preserved or reconstructed, especially from the Monastery of St. Shenoute, Atripe (White Monastery); the electronic edition of Coptic texts with Italian translation; the history of Coptic literature; a computational grammar of Sahidic; a full bibliography. Contact smlref@yale.edu for ID & password.
Database of Latin Dictionaries
The Database of Latin Dictionaries comprises a number of Latin dictionaries, including dictionaries to assist translation from Latin into modern languages, dictionaries providing semantic and etymological explanations in Latin of Latin words, and historical Latin dictionaries.
Greek Language and Linguistics
Resources to facilitate the study of Ancient Greek and to promote the application of methodologies from the field of Linguistics to the study of Classical and Hellenistic Greek.
Hebrew Alphabet
Hebrew Program at Yale University
Historical dictionary including text from Dead Sea scrolls, Rabbinical literature, piyutim, and various other sources documenting and illustrating Hebrew language usage between 100 and 1050 A.D.
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press) is in an online version which enables the full text of the Dictionary to be searched in a way impossible in the printed version, and which allows updates more rapidly and more frequently than ever before. Language is constantly evolving, and there has been a great proliferation of new words and meanings in English throughout the world since the original publication of the OED between 1884 and 1928. Now, for the first time ever, the Dictionary is being completely revised. Every one of the 250,000 entries is being updated, and many more will be added during the course of this unprecedented revision programme, which is expected to double the length of the text. Draft versions of new and revised entries from the revision programme will be added to OED Online at quarterly intervals, with each revised entry being linked to the Second Edition version for comparison.
Oxford Language Dictionaries Online
Trial Database. Initially offering millions of words, phrases, and translations, in French, German, Spanish and Italian, the site will expand to include many other languages such as Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Polish. Included are usage examples and illustrative phrases, grammar guidance, click-through verb tables and pronunciation charts, explanations of grammatical terms, and help with spelling and punctuation. Also included are hundreds of correspondence templates including sample letters, CVs and resumes to provide practical help with writing in each language. Contextualized language reference help includes notes on life and culture, guidance on grammar and idiomatic usage, and Words of the Day. Updates every six months ensure that the most current meanings and the latest new words are just a click away. Advanced search options allow users to search the full text of each dictionary, or restrict a search to specific parts of speech or language register. Extensive links to language lea! rning and usage supplements provide a 'learn as you go' gateway to further language study. Citation information is available for all entries.
Oxford Reference Online
Over 100 language and subject dictionaries and reference works published by Oxford University Press combined in a single cross-searchable resource. Click on the link in the database for Bilingual Dictionaries to get access to a selection of language resources, including the following:
  • The Concise Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary (English-French / French-English)
  • The Concise Oxford-Duden German Dictionary (English-German / German-English)
  • The Pocket Oxford Latin Dictionary (English-Latin / Latin-English)
  • The Concise Oxford Spanish Dictionary (English-Spanish / Spanish-English)
Resources for Biblical Language Computing
This web site, a joint project of the Yale Divinity Library and the Yale Center for Language Study, is designed to guide YDS students in the process of setting up their personal computers with unicode fonts for biblical language computing. The instructions on the website will enable students to use biblical Hebrew and Greek and reliably print documents using the appropriate fonts.
Thesaurus Linguae Graecae
The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae has collected and digitized most literary texts written in Greek from Homer to the fall of Byzantium in 1453 CE. Its goal is to create a comprehensive digital library of Greek literature from antiquity to the present era. The TLG Canon of Authors and Works is a bibliographic guide to the authors and works included in the TLG´┐Ż Digital Library. Before you begin, you may select a Greek font for your session. A polytonic Greek font must be installed on your computer in order to view some work titles that appear in Greek.
Yale Center for Language Study
A center of coordination and resources for the more than fifty languages taught at Yale, the Center for Language Study (CLS) provides leadership and support for pedagogical innovation, professional development (including workshops and informal seminars offered in collaboration with language programs), and implementation of new methodologies in language instruction and learning. Through the DILS program, the CLS also offers opportunities for independent language study.

Return to Top

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why can't I just use Google to find the information I need?

Google is a very powerful search engine and can help you find all sorts of things on the Internet. However, Google is not the best place to start when you want to do serious scholarly research. There are several reasons not to rely on Google:

  1. Google searches only the Internet. But not everything that has been written is located on the Internet. Yale University provides numerous electronic databases that can help you find information not available on the Internet.

  2. Using Google to do research casts a very wide net. It is very possible to find quite good resources using Google but you may also find a lot of irrelevant resources (as well as resources that are relevant but of dubious authority -- see below). You may end up with lots of hits but you may also find yourself trying to weed out a lot of junk in order to get to the good stuff. It is much more efficient to start your research by using the tools that have been especially developed to help you find resources in the particular area you need. The library has numerous electronic databases that cover specialized subject areas.

  3. Much of what is on the Internet is highly suspect. Literally anyone can publish anything they want on the Internet, and information you find there using Google may have been written by an expert in the field...or it may have been written by a fifth grader. Just because you see it on the Internet doesn't make the informaton valid or authoritative. In contrast, books have to go through a publication process. While the authority of what is written in a book is not a given, most of the writings in books at least have gone through some sort of selection process by the publisher before they were published. Additionally, there has been a second selection process on the part of subject librarians who have purchased the books for the library. Similarly, articles in reputable academic journals have usually been selected by experts in the field. Thus, there is a higher degree of authority for what you find using the research tools of the library (the online catalog and databases than for what you can find doing a Google search.
  • What is a database?

A database is an organized collection of records presented in a standardized format that can be searched on a computer. The ORBIS catalog is a database, as is the ATLA Religion Database.

When you search in a database what you are doing is searching through records that represent and describe some other object, such as a book or an article. When you search in the ORBIS catalog, for example, you are not searching within books themselves, but instead you are searching through records that have been created to describe the books (and other items) within the collections of the Yale libraries. The record provides you with information about an item, such as its author, what it is about, and most importantly, where it can be found.

Similarly, when you search in an article database such as the ATLA Database, you are searching for records (also called citations) that describe articles written in the field of religion; you are not searching within the articles themselves (in most cases; however there are occasional exceptions to this rule). The citations provided in most article databases give you information about the article, such as who wrote it, what it is about, and, most importantly, the journal, issue and pages where it can be found.

  • How do I decide which database to use?

Yale University subscribes to hundreds of databases. The number of electronic resources available can seem overwhelming, which leads many people to prefer using a search engine they are familiar with such as Google, because it seems to be easier and appears to search everything. But there are good reasons not to start with Google, and there are a number of ways to help you select the appropriate database for your research.

To find print materials, online books, journals (both online and print), and other items available at the Yale libraries, the best place to start is the ORBIS catalog. If you need help in using ORBIS, the Divinity Library provides an instructional guide for Using the ORBIS Catalog. There are also a number of tutorials and instructional guides provided by the Yale University Library that can give you further assistance with searching in ORBIS.

ORBIS is not so helpful for finding scholarly articles and essays, however, unless you already know the name of the journal where the article is published (see Why can't I find the article I want in ORBIS? for more on this topic.) To find articles and essays, you need to start with an electronic database that is geared to scholarly articles.

For theology and religious studies, the most important database to know about is the ATLA Religion Database. Instructions for using the ATLA Religion Database are available on our Instructional Guide: the ATLA / ATLAS Religion Database page.

There are a number of other databases that are specifically focused on religious studies, as well as databases for other subject areas, and databases that cover multiple subject areas including religious studies. Here are some options for finding the database or databases you need:

  • Use Quick Article Search to search across a number of top article databases for religious studies.

  • Use Multi-Database Search to select a subject area and search across multiple databases at the same time, or to find out which databases are available for a particular subject area. Multi-Database Search is helpful because it provides subtopics within a single subject area. For example, for the subject area of religion, it provides listings of databases for individual subject areas such as Christianity, Islam, Judaica, etc. More information on how Multi-Database Search works is available on the Databases & Article Searching: Multi-Database Search section of this page.

  • For databases that will help you find articles and essays in the area of Christianity, use the Research Guide for Christianity. This guide is organized by both subject area (i.e., Bible, Church History, Practical Theology, etc.) and by resource type (i.e., catalogs, bibliographies, primary sources, etc.) You can find databases to use in your research through either avenue. Electronic databases for finding articles are listed, along with print indexes, in the section under Resources by Format entitled Indexes and Abstracts; on this page, they subdivide by subject area and can be found by clicking on the link Electronic Databases. Or you can go directly to the specific subject area page (i.e., Bible, Church History, etc.) and click on the link for Indexes and Abstracts and from there click on the link for Electronic Databases.

  • A more general listing of the top recommended databases for theology and religious studies is available on the library's Finding Articles instructional guide; on this page there is also a list of databases that cover more than one subject area in the section Multidisciplinary Databases.

  • If you are looking for databases for other subject areas besides religion and theology, you can use the Multi-Database Search to identify the right database for your topic; instructions on how to do this are available on the instructional guide for Finding Articles in the section on Databases for Other Subject Areas.

  • The subject guides in the Research Guides by Subject have been developed by Yale librarians who are subject specialists. Most of these guides will provide you with a listing of the recommended databases for that subject area.

  • Finally, you should always feel free to consult one of the librarians for assistance if you are not sure what database to use for your research. Options for getting assistance from a librarian are listed on the Options for Getting Reference Assistance section of this page.
  • Why can't I find the article I want in ORBIS?

The ORBIS catalog does not include records that represent and describe journal articles. What ORBIS can tell you is what journals are available and where they are located, but it does not include information on the articles contained in the journals. To get that information, you need to first go to an article database, such as the ATLA Religion Database. If you know the title of the article you want, search for the title within the article database and then note the name of the journal, the volume and/or issue, date, and page numbers for where the article is located. Then, search in ORBIS to find out if Yale has the journal and the volume and/or issue you need. For more detailed instructions on finding journal articles, go to the Finding Articles instructional guide on our website.

  • I've searched in a database and found a record describing an article I want; now, how do I actually get hold of the article?

The record you found, also called the article citation, will provide you with information about the article. Usually, journal article citations tell you information such as the author, the article title, the journal within which it is published, the volume and/or journal issue, the date of publication, and the page numbers for the article. Sometimes you may also be provided with an abstract, or short summary describing the article. In many databases, though not in all, there may be an electronic link that will take you to the actual article itself. In that case, to retrieve the article you would click on the link to get to the article.

print link

Once you have the article on your computer, then follow the instructions for the database to print it out (usually you can find a link somewhere on the page indicating a print function).

print function

Not all databases, however, will provide a link to the article itself. For most Yale databases, if you don't see an electronic link to the article, you may still be able to get it electronically from another database. Look for the yalelinks button and click on it to see if the article is available in full-text from another database.

If the article you want is not available in full-text through any of the library's databases, you will have to see if it is available in print. Search the ORBIS catalog for the journal title (NOT the article title) by using Journal/Newspaper/Magazine Title as the search type. Be sure to note which library holds the journal, and whether or not it has the specific issue in which the article you want is located.

journal title search
Sojourners bibligraphic record

If the journal issue is available at one of the Yale libraries, note the location and call number for the journal. Then, either go to that library, and retrieve the issue from the shelf, or use the Place Requests feature in ORBIS to request that the journal be delivered to the library of your choice.

If the journal is not available at any of the Yale libraries (i.e., there is no record for it in ORBIS) you may be able to obtain the article through Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

  • Yale has the journal with the article I want, but it's not online and it's not at the Divinity Library. Can I get the journal sent to the Divinity Library so I can see the article?

You can use the Place Requests feature in ORBIS to request that a journal held at another Yale library be sent to your home library. Follow these instructions:

  1. First, bring up the record for the journal you want in ORBIS. Click on the Place Requests tab at the top of the record.
    Place Requests
  2. You will next be taken to a page with a link to login with your Yale NetID. Click on the Yale NetID Login button and login to your account.
  3. Next, select Request Staff Search or Delivery from the pull down menu.
    Staff Search Request
  4. Select the appropriate volume of the journal you want, then make sure to select the library you want it delivered to from the Select a pickup or use location option, and then hit Submit Request.
    Deliver to Divinity Library

You will receive an email when the journal has been delivered to your selected library, usually by the next day.

  • Where can I find a complete listing of the Lyman Beecher Lectures?

The Divinity Library maintains a list of these lectures on this webpage: Bibliography of the Lyman Beecher Lectureship on Preaching.

  • Where can I find copies of STM theses submitted at Yale Divinity School?

Students preparing to write their thesis often ask to see examples of papers that have been submitted at Yale Divinity School in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Master of Sacred Theology (STM) degree. Although the STM degree has been granted since 1939, for most of those years neither the Divinity School nor the Library ever made a systematic attempt to retain those essays.

However, some selected theses have deposited with the Library on the recommendation of the faculty (presumably of the degree advisor). These papers are listed in Archive & Manuscript Record Group 41 and are located in the Divinity Library's Special Collections.

Beginning with degrees granted in 1989, STM theses have been submitted to Theological Research Exchange Network for microfilming. The Divinity Library receives microfiche copies of all the YDS theses filmed by TREN. The microfiches receive brief cataloging and are arranged under the call number FICHE B3500. TREN will supply microfiche copies of the theses they have for a modest fee. In those cases where we were able to secure the author's permission, we also filmed theses retrospectively. We are making another effort to get permission for the ones we still have in hard copy. Please note that Yale STM's are NOT indexed in Research in Ministry because they are not doctoral level theses. (RIM is strictly D.Min.)

  • Where can I find the online version of John Collins' Introduction to the Hebrew Bible?

The electronic version of Prof. John Collins' book Introduction to the Hebrew Bible is available on Workstation B, in the Trowbridge Reference Room. To access, go to the Start menu, and then click on the link for the Libronix Digital Library System. Then, click on the link at the top for My Library; scroll down the list to get to Collins, John and click on the link to open.

  • Where can I find the text of a recent papal encyclical or other Vatican document?

The Vatican has its own website, The Holy See, and papal documents are listed alphabetically on this page of the site: Papal Documents.

Return to Top

This file last modified 3/18/13.
Please send comments and questions to
the Divinity Library at Yale University.