Human Rights Research Guide
Planning Your Research
This diagram offers one way of visualizing the information landscape of the field of human rights. Your research may draw upon different kinds of sources and a variety of search techniques and tools may be necessary to discover and access these sources. Increasingly, information is born-digital, created and accessed online and many other sources have been digitized and made available online. Historical sources and those from regions of the world with less digital publishing may not be as widely available online and may be overlooked if one does not use a variety of search strategies.
Thinking about the ideal sources you could or should use, at the beginning of your research project, can save you time and help you determine the best strategies and tools for searching.
Mapping your topic can be a useful exercise that may save you time and facilitate more effective searching. Mapping involves translating a topic or a thesis statement into a vocabulary of names, words, dates, and keywords.
In this example, I have started to map a research question regarding the reliability of crowdsourced information about human rights or humanitarian crises.
Brainstorm your vocabulary! Popular terms may not always be used in catalogs or databases, and there may be well-established terminology for your topic that will allow you to quickly identify relevant sources. Make sure you invest time into brainstorming about all possible ways to describe your topic; learn from your searches by looking at the subject, keywords or other tags that may be associated with relevant articles or materials that you discover.
HR collections @ Columbia Libraries
- Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research (CHRDR)
Based in the Libraries, CHRDR houses the archives of several prominent human rights organizations and promotes the development of strong general collections to support human rights research. The archives are managed by Columbia's Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
- Global Studies
Area and subject specialist librarians who develop interdisciplinary collections covering the following regions/subjects: African Studies, Jewish Studies, Latin American & Iberian Studies, Middle East & Islamic Studies, Russian, Eurasian & E.European Studies, South & Southeast Asian Studies.
- C.V. Starr East Asian Library
Collections from and about China, Japan, Korea and Tibet, in languages of those countries as well as materials in English and other Western languages about East Asia.
- Lehman Social Sciences Library
Contemporary collection of social sciences materials, e.g. sociology, political sciences, international affairs. Lehman is also a U.S. federal government document depository.
- Columbia Center for Oral History Archives CCOHA
Largest and oldest oral history program in the world; holds recorded interviews and transcripts with several collections related to contemporary and historical human rights topics.
- Butler Library
Humanities and history collections, e.g. biography, historical works, literary, cultural topics, feature and documentary film.
- Arthur W. Diamond Law Library
Significant holdings of international law, treaties, IGO documents including the UN, International Court and tribunal records. Journals and books relevant to HR, esp. legal aspects, treatments.
Major Research Guides
- Major Databases for Government/IGO information
- Lehman Library Guide: Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs: Information Resources
Includes subscription and freely available online sources as well as print sources available in the Columbia Libraries
Columbia Law Library: International Law and Human Rights Research Guides
List of several guides on human rights, EU and UN documents, FAQ on HR research, international law and legal guides
Human Rights Library, University of Minnesota
One of the largest collections of more than sixty thousand core human rights documents, with access to more than four thousands links. Also provides a unique search device for multiple human rights sites.
- Univ. of Connecticut Guide: Human Rights Resources
Extensive set of pages highlighting a range of resources.
- Lehman Library Guide, Population, Migration and Refugee Studies
- United Nations Research Guides, Dag Hammarskjold Library
- UN Member States On the Record: Links to selected UN databases, websites and other sources that document the roles and activities of UN member states.
Background and Country Information
eiu.com (Economist Intelligence Unit publications)
Europa World Plus (covers all countries of the world)
World Factbook (Central Intelligence Agency)
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy extensive entry on Human Rights
Journals & Articles
Selected Journals in Human Rights
Human Rights (Chicago, IL)
Humanity: An international journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development
Search Tools and sources
- CLIO Columbia’s Online Catalog. Now includes information from Columbia's Law Library
- Explore New Titles -- search "human rights" and then limit by acquisition date
- Explore New Titles -- search "human rights" and then limit by acquisition date
- PEGASUS Columbia Law Library Catalog
- WorldCat Online catalog with over 95 million records from libraries in the U.S. and selected countries
- Human Rights Library (U. Minnesota) Bibliographies section
- Human Rights and Human Welfare An international review of books and other publications
Reference Books --Recommended Titles
- Atlas of Human Rights: mapping violations of freedom around the globe
- Brownlie's Documents on Human Rights
- Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity
- Health and Human Rights: Basic International Documents
- Encyclopedia of Human Rights
- An Encyclopedia of Human Rights in the United States
- Historical Dictionary of Human Rights and Humanitarian Organizations
- Human Rights: A Worldwide Reference Handbook
- Human Rights: a Bibliography 5 volume print edition, published in 2000.
Request & Delivery Services
Book, journal or other item not available at Columbia? Try these Delivery Services
- Requests for Scan & Deliver and retrieval from Offsite Storage can be made directly from our Catalog, CLIO.
- From databases, click on e-LINK to access full text or information about print holdings of a journal at Columbia.
- You can initiate an inter-library loan request directly via e-link.
- You must log in to the BorrowDirect service to request items from that service.
Human Rights Web
Guides to NGO & Inter-Governmental Organization sites & publications
- Lehman HR Guide, see Advocacy Organizations and Primary Documents Sections
- Human Rights Library-- NGO links (University of Minnesota)
- United Nations Documentation: Research Guide Human Rights (UN)
- A Brief Guide to finding UN Human Rights Documents (UN)
- Guide to the United Nations (Columbia Law Library)
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Historical Record of Drafting Process (UN)
- Universal Human Rights Index - country-specific human rights information; conclusions and recommendations addressed by UN independent experts
- United Nations Human Rights Website and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
- ReliefWeb (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)
- Human Rights Library, IGO page
- Directory of Development Organizations
Guides to Regional & Country Information
- Resources for Researching Country Conditions (Human Rights Library, Univ. Minnesota)
- Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Reports and Documents
- Human Rights and Governance in Africa (Columbia University guide)
- Human Rights, Latin American Network Information Center
- Demographic and Health Surveys
- Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (U.S. Department of State )
- World Bank e-Library (Columbia Libraries)
Specialized Search Engines
- Hurisearch Search over 5,000 human rights websites (more information)
- TANDIS Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Information System
- Human Rights Library metasearch
- Google Scholar
Configure for using Columbia Library resources> About Scholar -> Library Links > Preferences
- Human Rights Web Archive Columbia-based project to capture and archive HR websites
Video and Media
Tools and Software
Consult a Librarian
A network of specialists within the library contribute to building our human rights collections.
General questions about human rights and Columbia's archives: firstname.lastname@example.org
General questions about the library? ASK a LIBRARIAN
Global Studies (offices in Lehman Library) develops collections from and about several world regions:
- African Studies, Yuusuf Caruso, email@example.com
- Jewish Studies, Michelle Chesner, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Latin American & Iberian Studies, Sócrates Silva, email@example.com
- Russian/Eurasian/E.European Studies, Robert H. Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Middle East & Islamic Studies, Peter Magierski, email@example.com
- South Asian Studies, Gary Hausman, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Southeast Asian Studies, via Cornell University Greg Green, email@example.com and Jeff Petersen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Starr East Asian Library China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and general works on East Asian region
- U.S., UK and W. European History librarians, email@example.com
- Digital Humanities Center, 305 Butler Library
Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Butler Library
- Human Rights archives, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Oral History archives, Sady Sullivan, Curator, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Reference staff (212) 854-3743