Chicano Database – Reviewed 2003

Reviewed by James E. Nalen, Central Michigan University, Off-Campus Library
Services, Centreville, Virginia

The Chicano Database (CDB) is a product of
the Ethnic Studies Library at the University of California, Berkeley that
focuses on both the Chicano and the broader Latino populations in the
United States. The CDB incorporates a number of print publications,
including: the Chicano Periodical Index; the Chicano Index;
Arte Chicano: A Comprehensive Annotated Bibliography of Chicano Art,
; the Chicano Anthology Index; the Chicana
Studies Index: Twenty Years of Gender Research, 1971-1991
; and, Hispanic
Mental Health Research: A Reference Guide
. The CDB also
includes records from the Spanish Speaking Mental Health Database
, a resource developed by Amado Padilla and Paul Aranda beginning
in 1972; the SSMHD was added to the CDB in 1991 (Castillo-Speed,

Subscriptions to the Web version of the Chicano Database are available
from RLG Citation Resources, 1200 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041-1100;
(TEL) 800-537-7546 (TEL); (FAX) 650-964-0943;;
Annual subscription rates vary depending on RLG membership and the number
of users; consortial pricing is also available.

The Chicano Database is also made available for delivery on CD-ROM by
the Ethnic Studies Library Publications Unit, 30 Stephens Hall, No. 2360,
University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-2360; (TEL) 510-643-0552;
(FAX) 510-643-8433;;

This review is based on RLG’s Web version of the Chicano Database
which uses the Eureka interface.


The CDB is useful for conducting research on many aspects of the Chicano
and Latino populations. The focus of this review is to examine how well
it provides access to research in the social sciences on these important
demographic groups in American society.

Chicanos, a term that refers “broadly to people of Mexican descent
residing in the United States” (Rosaldo, 1985, p. 411), comprised
7.3 % of the total U.S. population in the United States according to the
2000 Census, an increase of 52.9% from the 1990 Census. While the Hispanic
population comprised 12.5% of the total U.S. population in 2000, Mexican-Americans
accounted for 58.5% of this total (Guzmán, 2001, p. 1-2). (As of
July 1, 2001, the Hispanic population represented 13% of the total population
[Clemetson, 2003].)

The CDB offers social scientists a unique tool with which to access research
on acculturation, assimilation, social networks, social movements, and
migration, among a geographically and historically diverse population.
Since the CDB itself grew out of the Chicano movement of the 1960s and
1970s, with its focus on addressing the needs of the Chicano community,
the CDB also provides access to a significant amount of applied social

Beginning in the early 1990s, the scope of the CDB was expanded to include
research on the broader Latino population in the United States. This change
probably is a reflection of demographic changes in the overall Hispanic
population: while the Chicano population is still growing, its percentage
of the total Hispanic population is declining. This demographic shift
has also manifested itself in higher education, with the folding of some
Chicano studies programs into broader Latino or ethnic studies programs
(see Rodriguez, 2000). Thus, the CDB has shifted its focus to become a
significant resource for the study of the Latino population in the United

Scope, Size, Coverage & Currency

The Chicano Database indexes a variety of materials drawn from
a range of disciplines, including: history, linguistics, sociology, anthropology,
economics, political science, social work, women’s studies, and
literature. As of November 2001, the CDB fully indexes 129 serials,
such as the Chicano-Latino Law Review, Critica, Perspectives
in Mexican American Studies
, and Saguaro, and selectively
indexes many others. (The serials source list can be accessed from the
database help guide or at
The database also indexes dissertations, reports, books, and book chapters.
While it is difficult to determine the number of records by source language
found in the database, several broad subject searches consistently revealed
a significantly larger number of records for English-language sources
than for the other languages represented in the database—Spanish,
bilingual (English/Spanish), Portuguese, and Calo (a Chicano dialect).

The bulk of the records in CDB are from the 1960s to the present; there
is also selective coverage of significant materials to the early 1900s.
The CDB contained more than 57,364 records as of August 11, 2003, and
it is updated quarterly.

Electronic Record Structure, Retrieval, and Display

Each record in the Chicano Database consists of a full bibliographic
citation (author, title, source, and date), multiple subject headings,
the shelf location for the item in UC Berkeley’s Ethnic Studies
Library, the genre or form (publication type) of the material, and a record
identification number. Many of the records also include an abstract/summary.

The CDB supports three levels of searching: basic, advanced, and command
Searching can be by keyword, author, title word, subject word, abstract
word, and journal title. The advanced and command line levels support
Boolean searching. Truncation is enabled on all three levels of searching,
while pre-limiting by date and language is enabled on the advanced and
command line levels of searching. Search results can be limited by date,
language, and form/genre (e.g. book, journal article) using any level
of searching.

Subject word searching allows one to browse subject headings. For example,
a subject word search for “bracero?” displays the subject
headings “Bracero Program,” “Braceros,” “Rancho
El Bracero Fresno Ca,” and “Inside the State: The Bracero
Program, Immigration, and the I.N.S (book review).”

Results can be displayed as Brief, List or Full. The Brief display contains
basic bibliographic information for each record; List display shows truncated
author, title and year information for each record; the Full display includes
subject headings for each record. Within the List display, results can
be sorted by author, title, or year. Results can be marked for printing,
emailing or downloading when using the Brief or List displays. Within
the Full and Brief displays, individual records from discrete searches
can be saved for later downloading, emailing, or printing.

A user’s preferences for sorting, viewing, emailing and downloading
records can be set using Eureka’s preferences feature which is located
at the top of the search page. This feature is particularly useful for
establishing the download formats for various bibliographic management
software programs such as ProCite and EndNote.

Indexing and Subject Access

The level and quality of indexing appears relatively consistent throughout
the database. Subject terms are drawn from the Chicano Thesaurus;
access to this thesaurus is not available within the database. Abstracts
are available for some records. However, a search of the subject heading
“Bracero Program” yielded only three abstracts out of 47 results.
Abstracts are searchable.

User Guidance

An extensive online help guide is available for the Chicano Database.
The guide describes basic and advanced searching strategies, and provides
guidance on narrowing, viewing, sorting, printing, emailing, and saving
results. The help guide also includes a concise description of the database
and links to a listing of source materials.

Document Availability

The CDB, as with other RLG Citation Resources, utilizes OpenURL, allowing
individual database records to link with a library’s print and electronic

Recommendations for Improvement

The content of the Chicano Database could be enhanced through inclusion
of records describing significant Web resources. An increase in the number
of abstracts would also make the database more useful to researchers.

While RLG’s Eureka search interface is fairly intuitive, the ability
to mark, sort, and save records should be made available from all three
of the display types—Brief, List and Full. This reviewer found this
lack of consistency confusing.


The Chicano Database is a necessary resource for colleges and universities
with programs in Chicano, Latino and/or ethnic studies. At the same time,
students at institutions with programs in social work, sociology, anthropology,
comparative literature, and many other subjects will find the database’s
unique focus highly useful. The CDB’s selective and full indexing
of a variety of materials, some dating to the early 1900s, makes it a
unique tool for researchers in the social sciences.

References Cited

Castillo-Speed, L. (1999, February). The Chicano Database: Historical
roots and new additions. RLG Focus 36. Retrieved January 23,
2003, from

Clemetson, L. (2003, January 22). Hispanics now largest minority, Census
shows. New York Times, p. A1. Retrieved May 28, 2003, from LexisNexis
Academic database.

Guzmán, B. (2001, May). The Hispanic population. 2000 Census
. Retrieved January 9, 2003, from

Rodriguez, R. (2000). Chicano studies. Black Issues in Higher Education,
17(16), 26-31.

Rosaldo, R. (1985). Chicano studies, 1970-1984. Annual Review of
, 14, 405-427.

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