Skip to Main Content

Asian/Pacific Islander American Sources and Research

This guide looks at way to use Salmon Library and other sources to research Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans.

Search Terms to Use

There are a number of ways to formulate searches in our databases to find information about Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans. The most basic of which is to use those two terms (note, these, and following links in this box, go to Primo Pathfinder searches to show examples of how they work):

As a note, since databases may treat "Asian American" (singular or adjective form) as separate from "Asian Americans" (plural), you might also wish to search for the singular as well or use a wildcard (*) to bring back both. Note the differences in searches for

In both cases, the wildcard brings back more results. In some searches, it will be significantly more. 

You can combine these terms with a number of other terms to find specific results either by adding or excluding certain elements. Some examples include (using the wild card method):

You will also get some results by combining the two terms in ways such as

Of course, a lot of these searches are predicated on the author/indexer using particular phrases. If a search is too broad, or not broad enough, try changing up the individual elements or use various search limiters to bring results closer to what you want.

Depending on your search focus and what you are trying to achieve, you can also use individual countries or regions and other terms to try and bring back results (though some of these bring back far more than Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans), some examples:

As well as by country name, ethnic group, etc. You can further combine these terms as discussed, above.

If you wish to search for a specific phrase, consider putting it in quotes. Note the difference in results between

Depending on your specific needs, any of those might be better suited. Sometimes you need to try them all (or at least multiple ones) to get the results you need for your research.

Subject Searches

Subject searching in Primo Pathfinder (and some other databases) is usually used to find more specific material. While an "Any" search searches article/book titles, abstracts, subjects, notes, and sometimes full text to find the results, subject searches are higher-level of authority. They tend to be more tightly controlled and tend to bring back much smaller numbers of results. Subject searching is more recommended for researchers who are more advanced and know the topic or need more precise control. 

With that being said, they can be a powerful search tool. 

A few examples from Primo Pathfinder include:

How do you find out what subject terms to search for? There are different ways. One way is to go to Primo Pathfinder, do a search that you like, find a result that suits what you are looking for, and then click on it. Under it, find the subject fields [if the result has any] and then click on one of those. You will get [often much] fewer results since the results will only be those with the subject you chose specified.

A slightly more controlled way is to change the "Any Field" drop-down menu to "Subject", leaves the "contains" drop down where it is, and then use one of the terms from the Basic Search Terms box, above, and then do a search. From there, you will be brought back a list of results. Choose one, and look at its subject headings. If any of those subject headings are closer to what you want, then click on it (as a link). That will provide an "exact" subject search for that term. Note, in most cases, you will only get a few results at this point, but those results might be more fine tuned to your search interests.

Screenshots of this latter method are included below.

Another way to find subjects is to go to the Library of Congress Subject Headings browser and search there. For the two central terms, above, we get [note, links go to searches]. 

The Salmon Library collection may not have materials under all of these searches, but these can show you some of the ways to formulate subject headings and give you ideas on how to limit your searches.

EXAMPLE, Using Broad Subjects to Find Specific Ones in Primo Pathfinder