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Speeches and Rhetorical Criticism: Reference Materials

Research guide for the study of speeches and rhetorical criticism

Reference Universe

reference universe

Specialized, subject encyclopedias can help a researcher save a lot of time.  Before diving into dense books or peer-reviewed journals, introductory articles found in reference material provide an overviewe of a topic and can help a researcher get a grounding and context to a research topic.  Browsing entries in these encyclopedic works can help refine a search.

Search through reference works from Alkek Library:

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Credo eRef


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Selected Education Reference Materials

Subject dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks typically provide background essays, definitions, broad overviews of various topics, or other pertinent facts. They also provide a quick overview of authors and their works.

CQ Weekly Report

In-depth, unbiased coverage of health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, and the economy from 1960 - Present. Reports are published weekly in print and online 44 times a year by CQ Press, a division of Congressional Quarterly Inc. Each single-themed, 12,000-word report is researched and written by a seasoned journalist. Reports include an introductory overview; background and chronology on the topic; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; pro/con statements from representatives of opposing positions; and bibliographies of key sources.

Facts on File (1941 to the present) — Reference D410.F3

Current 5 years in Reference Collection; older volumes on 5th floor under same call number.

Great Speeches for Criticism and AnalysisReference PN6122 .G74

Index to American Women Speakers 1828-1978Reference PN6121.M36

Landmark American SpeechesReference PS662 .L36

Newspapers of record.

The following newspapers often print entire speeches or long excerpts of important speeches: New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor.

Nobel Lectures, LiteraturePN 771 .L74

Penguin Book of 20th Century SpeechesReference D411.P46

The Penguin book of historic speechesPN6121 .P39 (missing?)

Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature

This database covers the current content of the original print index, covering 1982- and may print important speech texts or excerpts. Indexes Vital Speeches of the Day.

Reader's Guide Retrospective

A database containing comprehensive indexing of the most popular general-interest periodicals published in the United States and reflects the history of 20th century America. The complete database covers the years 1890 through 1982.

Representative American SpeechesReference H35 .R4

Current 3 years in the Reference Collection; older editions (1937 to present) on 5th floor. Indexed in Speech Index.

Research Library

Indexes Vital Speeches of the Day and Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents as well as several major journals and newspapers. Includes some full text.

Speech Collections/Browsing

Browsing may be helpful if no specific speech is sought. Useful call number ranges for shelf browsing are:
General collections — PN 4199-4355 & PN 6121-6129, 6th Floor
British Speeches — PR 1321-1329, 6th Floor
American Speeches — PS 660-668, 6th Floor
Sermons — BV 4240-4316, 5th Floor

Speech Index, 1935-1980Reference PN6121 .S85

Speeches of the American Presidents Reference J81.4 .S64

Vital Speeches Of the Day Reference PN6121 .V52

Includes speeches made by executives, politicians, and other national figures. An annual index appears in the November issue. Bound copies from 1935-1986; Microfilm copies from 1984 to current; printed indexes covering 1934-1984 are located in Reference.

We Shall Be Heard: Index to Speeches by American Women 1978-1985Reference PN6121 .M37 1988

What They Said (1969-1991) — D410.W46

Use to find excerpts of speeches. Gives citation to resource containing full text of speech.

Government Documents Collection, 4th floor

The Government Documents collection houses the following publications from the federal government. Ask at that service desk for help locating items:

Messages of the Presidents, 1789-1897 — Y 4.P93/1:3/1-10, 4th Floor

Public Papers of the Presidents — AE 2.114:, 4th Floor

Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents

Current issues in Gov Docs AE 2.109; Back issues on microfilm, J80.A24, 3rd floor

Congressional Information Service (CIS)

1970 to present. Indexes speeches made at Congressional hearings.

Congressional Record (and its earlier titles)

Like the CIS above, the Congressional Record may also access Congressional speeches. 1789-1960 on microfilm, 3rd floor; 1873-present, in Government Documents, 4th floor


Quotations or Passages from Speeches

Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations — Reference PN6081 .B27

Strong's New Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible — Reference BS425 .S8

Indicates where words are mentioned in the Bible.

Granger's Index to PoetryReference PN1022 .G7


Biographical Information

Biography and Genealogy Master Index

Biography Reference Bank

Biography Resource Center

Current Biography (1940 to present) — Reference CT100 .C8

Lengthy articles on prominent people. Also available via Biography Reference Bank database.

Dictionary of American BiographyReference E176 .D56

Information about deceased prominent Americans from 1776-20th century.

Oxford Dictionary of National BiographyReference DA28 .O95

Information about deceased prominent Britons.

Who Was Who in AmericaReference E176 .W64

Information about prominent deceased Americans from 1607-1989.

Who's WhoReference DA28 .W6

Information about prominent Britons. 1971-1994; older volumes on 5th Floor under same call number.

Who's Who in AmericaReference E663 .W56

Information about prominent living Americans. Editions from 1970 to present; older volumes on 5th Floor under same call number.

Who's Who in the WorldReference CT120 .W5

Information about prominent people worldwide.


Criticism or Background Information

Academic OneFile

Indexes scholarly journals AND popular magazines from a variety of disciplines and/or interests. Includes some full-text articles.


Day By Day, The Forties — Reference D427.L4
Day By Day, The Fifties — Reference D842.5.M47
Day By Day, The Sixties — Reference D840.P27
Day By Day, The Seventies — Reference D848.L4
Day by Day, The Eighties — Reference D 848.M45
Chronicle of the Twentieth Century — Reference D422.C57
Chronicle of the World — Reference D11.C56


Contains abstracts of articles published in 63 of the primary professional journals of the communications fields, including mass communication, journalism, mass media, and speech communication.

Communication & Mass Media Complete

CMMC offers cover-to-cover indexing and abstracts for over 300 core journals, and selective coverage of over 100 more Furthermore, this database includes full text for nearly 200 journals. Many major journals have indexing, abstracts, PDFs and searchable citations from their first issues to the present (dating as far back as 1915).

Congressional events/speeches

The following are good sources of background on Congressional events and text of some speeches. Covers 1945 to the present.
CQ Weekly Report — Reference JK1.C15
Congressional Quarterly Almanac — Reference JK1 .C67
Congress and the Nation — Reference JK1 .C66

Facts on File — Reference D410.F3

Great Events From History series; Brief essays on the background of historical events:

G E f H: American Series — Reference E178.M72
G E f H: Ancient and Medieval Series — Reference D59.M26
G E f H II: Science & Technology Series — Reference Q125.G825 1991
G E f H: Modern European Series — Reference D209.M29
G E f H: Worldwide 20th Century Series — Reference D421 .G63

Historical Statistics of the United StatesReference HA202 .H57 2006

Historical Statistics of the States of the United States: Two Centuries of the Census, 1790-1990Reference HA214 .D63 1993

People's Chronology — Reference D11.T83 1992

Research Library

Indexes more than 600 periodicals reflecting a wide variety of topics and current events. General and academic periodicals are included, some of which are full-text.

Statistical Abstract of the United States

Over 1,000 statistical tables. Older editions also available.

Newsbank Retrospective

Full text newspaper articles dated 1970 to 1991 taken from major national and regional newspapers.

World Almanac and Book of FactsReference AY67 .N5 W7

Current year in Reference. Older editions on 5th floor.


Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a free lending service available to current Texas State students and employees. ILL borrows items from other libraries that Alkek Library does not own such as journal articles, books, DVDs, CDs—anything you might need for your research.

Use the online Interlibrary Loan request system ILLiad to order your ILL items. Enter as much information as you know about the item you need, and the ILL staff will try to track it down.

Depending on the type of item you're requesting, turnaround times vary—to be safe, plan to wait a few business days for an article and at least a week for a book.

If you need help with making an ILL request or have questions about the process, call the ILL office at 512.245.4893.