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Drama: General Design Resources

Starting points for research in drama


You know you want to do some research before you start to design, but you might not be sure how to get started. It's okay. Researching for design is both different than, but also similar to, researching for a paper. Here are some general tips to get you started.

  1. Think about what you want to find before you start to search. It's so easy to want to dive right in and start searching for information, but do you really know what you want? Are you hoping to find images? Facts like historical or cultural information? Different types of information will be found in different types of resources. Knowing what you hope to find will help you narrow down the possible places to search and be more efficient.
  2. Familiarize yourself with core resources. Knowing what sort of information can be easily found in common resources will make your life easier. You should start to know that the databases ARTstor, AP Images, and Vogue Archive all give you images, and you should also know how they differ from one another.
  3. Vary your searches by using synonyms. Once it's finally time to start finding your information, make sure you use plenty of different words to actually search. You might be using the technically correct word to describe something (e.g., throne), but maybe it's mentioned by a more generic word (e.g., chair, seat, royal pontification station, etc.). The results you get are limited by the search terms you use. Change them up and you might be amazed at what you find.
  4. Use a wide variety of resources. It might be more convenient to access all of your information from a laptop in the studio, but not all information is online. The vast majority of books published prior to 2000 are only available in a physical format. Don't just settle for something, trace all your leads no matter where they lead you. That might mean that you find yourself picking up a dusty book for the first time in 40 years from the triple oversize section of the basement--and that's pretty cool too.
  5. Look places you never thought to look for information. It's great to know the "standard" places to find information (see earlier Tip 2), but you also need to think outside of the box. I've found information in places that I never originally thought to look in, like novels (maybe they reflect current society), history books (sometimes they have pictures too), etc.
  6. Keep track of your information. If you're making a copy of pages from a book, make sure to copy the title page too. If you're printing out materials from an online resource, make sure to mark where you found it. Not only might this help you quickly find this information again the future, but it will also help you be a more ethical researcher if anyone wants to know how your design ended up so fabulous.

Image Resources

Browse SUBJECT headings in Library Search to find books about a particular subject. The following are basic subject headings that can be subdivided down many ways including by geographic location, time period, and sub-genres.

  • For example: Clothing and Dress
    • Geographic subdivision: Clothing and Dress Africa
    • Time Period: Clothing and Dress 20th century
    • Genre: Clothing and Dress Catalogs

Factual Resources (e.g., Culture & History)

The following links are all specific resources:

The following are searches to bring up items on a specific subject. Will include both physical and electronic items:

The following links are all specific resources:

The following are searches to bring up items on a specific subject. Will include both physical and electronic items: