Skip to content

@Kerim on AAA Abstracts Revisited, Being an Instance of Advocacy for Using the HathiTrust Digital Library and the Liberation of Already Digitized Content by Rights-holders

This post sat half written for a really long time. I just discovered it and decided to finish it off.  Some readers of this blog will recall a post by Kerim at Savage Minds on the subject of making the paper abstracts from the annual AAA meetings available online. What follows is an FYI post on this subject. It relates to my comments regarding the HathiTrust Digital Library, a resource that many in my circle are encouraged to learn about and to learn how to use.

You Now Have Access to the Abstracts from 37 Annual AAA Meetings

Remember Kerim’s earlier post about the publishing of AAA meeting abstracts? This note is a simple follow-up. If you would like to search an almost complete set of published abstracts since the 1970s, here is how to do it.

Get online and go to the HathiTrust Digital Library. If you go to this link (link: ) you can see the abstract holdings that are presently available in the digital library.

If, for some reason, you wish to search in the abstract for a particular year, you can click on it.  You can then use the “Search in this text” tool to find what you are looking for within that particular volume. For instance, if you click on the link for the 1976 volume, you can search on the word “Sahlins” and discover that it appears on page 155.

This volume is theoretically in copyright and thus the AAA would have to give the HathiTrust Digital LIbrary permission to make full text available. (This was the point of my comment on Kerim’s original point—doing this would cost the AAA nothing and would instantly create a scholarly resource of much enhanced value.) As things stand now, copyright is all that stands between you and full-text. Under present conditions, what HathiTrust is doing for you is (in this instance) telling you that something having to do with “Sahlins” appears on page 155. (Presumably an abstract by Marshall Sahlins.) Still, this can be very helpful. For instance, you now are better prepared to consult a particular page and volume in the library or make an informed ILL request. If one did a search on a topical phrase like “debt” or “gift” or “New Guinea”, this could be especially useful in tracking down fugitive research. [The “Find in a Library” link will help you track down physical copies to consult.]

If, for some other reason, you wished to search the whole group of abstracts, you can do that too. Just use the main search tool at the HathiTrust Digital Library homepage and search “Sahlins” adding “American Anthropological Association” and “Abstract” to reduce the amount of material returned. Of course, searching the whole full text library is a very powerful tool in general.  Thankfully a large and growing portion of the library IS available in full text.

Hopefully more rights holders will (as with material liberated through the Open Folklore project) work with HathiTrust to make their content freely available.  The materials are already digitized and in the system.  Permission is the only thing still needed to make the most of this valuable resource.

Check it out.  Information on HathiTrust in general is available here: .

Cool Update!!  As indicated in the comment’s section here, one awesome reader has built a dedicated collection in HathiTrust providing easy searching just against the abstracts: Try it out here:;a=listis


One Comment Post a comment
  1. Chris #

    I took the liberty of building the available volumes into one searchable collection:;c=129534190

    August 2, 2011

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: