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History 200: Doing History (Prof. Gomez)

Using Subject Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias and other reference resources are excellent places to start your research! You usually can expect to find the following important information in articles in subject encyclopedias:

  • An overview of the topic, with key individuals and events identified, and often some mention of how the topic has been studied (historiography)
  • Cross references to give you a sense of the boundaries of the topic and its relationship to other topics
  • Identification of primary source materials
  • Bibliographies of key secondary literature (books and articles) on the topic
  • Scholarly editions of primary sources may be listed in the bibliography

Tip:  Specialized encyclopedias sometimes include excerpts of primary source materials!  

Online Subject Encyclopedia Collections

Each collection listed below includes hundreds of volumes of specialized reference resources.

Broad Overviews: U.S. History

Both of the subject encyclopedias listed below are the standard reference resources for U.S. history.



Subject Encyclopedias: Specific Themes and Topics

The following list is just a sampling of the specialized subject encyclopedias available to you.  Ask Peggy Burge for recommendations if you can't find what you need.

Browse Subject Encyclopedias


Biographical Resources

Guides to History Research & Writing