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Why should I use subject encyclopedias?
You might be wondering why a History 400 student would consult subject encyclopedias. The quick answer is that it can't hurt to make sure you have a good sense of how your research question fits in with other scholarly research that has been done--and the bibliographies at the end of encyclopedia articles are an efficient way to make sure you know who the scholars are who've been working on this topic.
American National Biography by
Call Number: CT213 .A68 1999, v. 1-24, Print reference (first floor)
Publication Date: 1999
American National Biography is the first new comprehensive biographical dictionary focused on American history to be published in seventy years. Produced under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies, the ANB contains over 17,500 profiles on historical figures written by an expert in the field and completed with a bibliography. The scope of the work is enormous--from the earliest recorded European explorations to the very recent past.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography by
Call Number: DA28 .O95 2004, v. 1-61, Print reference (first floor)
Publication Date: 2004
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is a collection of 50,000 specially written biographies of men and women who have shaped all aspects of the British past, from the earliest times to the end of the year 2000. For this new edition, all 36,000 lives from the first edition have been completely rewritten or revised-with over 13,500 new biographies added representing all historical periods and including 3,000 new entries on women.
If the people you are researching are American or British and dead (in Boolean logic that would be "American OR British" AND "dead OR deceased"), try the ANB or the ONB. The bibliographies at the end of entries will give you information about the location of that person's papers--in archives if unpublished, or in scholarly editions, if published.
Online Reference Collections
Not sure where to look? Each of these online collections will introduce you to a wealth of dictionaries and encyclopedias.
ABC CLIO eBooks This link opens in a new window
This eBook Collection contains encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, and guides from ABC-CLIO, Greenwood Press, Libraries Unlimited, and Praeger.
Provides full text online access to Gale electronic books, including encyclopedias and other reference resources.
Includes over 100 specialized Oxford dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks.
Selection of subject encyclopedias published by Sage; especially strong in the social sciences.
Subject Encyclopedias for U.S. History
Please remember that subject encyclopedias can be excellent resources for identifying primary and secondary sources. The list below is just a sampling of the available titles; if you can't find a subject encyclopedia relevant to your topic, please email Peggy Burge for suggestions.
Social History of the United States by
Call Number: Click the title above for online access.
Publication Date: 2009
"Social History of the United States" is a cornerstone reference that tells the story of 20th-century America, examining the interplay of policies, events, and everyday life in each decade of the 1900s
Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History by
Call Number: E169.1 .E624 2001 v. 1-3, Print reference (first floor)
Publication Date: 2001
The Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History surveys the richly layered dimensions of American life in a format that clarifies the many issues, ideas, movements and places that constitute the American experience. How is the West defined as a cultural region? What did the notions of "secession" and "union" mean to Americans living in the 1860s? How does Disney pervade and influence perceptions about America today? In more than 200 articles written by scholars and enriched with illustrations, boxed biographies and documentary excerpts from primary sources, American thought and culture is thoroughly explored. The Encyclopedia covers not only historic periods such as the Colonial era and the Reagan era, but also looks at cultural groups such as the working class and cultural institutions and forms such as the university and cinema.
Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century by
Call Number: E169.1 .E626 2001, v. 1-3, Print reference (first floor)
Publication Date: 2000
Covers all aspects of 19th-century history including: population, politics and government, economy and work, society and culture, religion, social problems and reform, everyday life and foreign policy.
Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History by
Call Number: E185 .E54 1996, v. 1-5, Print reference (first floor)
Publication Date: 1995
The Encyclopedia is a 5-vol. work covering all aspects of African-American life. Using biographies, historical essays, and thematic pieces -- many by the foremost scholars in the field -- it addresses a wide array of subjects in more than 2,300 articles.
Encyclopedia of American Social History by
Call Number: HN57 .E58 1993, v. 1-3, Print reference (first floor)
Publication Date: 1993
Combines the scholarship of historians with work in ethnology, gender study, geography, literature, religion, anthropology and sociology.