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Interdisciplinary Reference Resources
Encyclopedias and handbooks can be a great place to search for, and learn about, topics, gain background information, and find suggestions on where to look for further information.
Especially strong in the arts, humanities (including history), and medicine.
Excellent starting point for any topic. Includes specialized dictionaries with short definitions as well as subject encyclopedias and handbooks with much more in-depth coverage.
Especially strong in the social sciences.
The subject encyclopedias listed below are especially useful for establishing the context in which your selected person lived.
Encyclopedia of Leadership by
Call Number: Click on the title above for online access.
Publication Date: 2004
Interdisciplinary coverage of the field of leadership studies.
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: 2001
Covers all aspects of 19th-century American history including: population, politics and government, economy and work, society and culture, religion, social problems and reform, everyday life and foreign policy.
Social History of the United States by
Call Number: Click the title above for online access.
Publication Date: 2009
Explores the social history of 20th-century America in detail, decade by decade, through the eyes of its everyday citizens.
Biographical Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
Start with biographical reference resources to establish the basic outline of and key moments in your person's life. Entries may include a discussion of the historiography on your person, that is, how scholars have debated and interpreted this person's actions and thoughts. Pay very close attention to the bibliographies at the end of each entry, as these will identify for you additional primary and secondary sources!
A good place to start is the American National Biography, and then branch out as needed.
Biography Reference Center
A collection of full-text biographies, including the complete full-text run of Biography Today and Biography.
Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography
Provides information on the history of science through articles on the professional lives of scientists. All periods of science from classical antiquity to modern times are represented.
African American Studies Center (Oxford)
A collection of full text materials focusing on the lives and events which have shaped African and African American history and culture. Includes biographies, images, primary source documents with commentaries, maps, tables and charts, and thematic timelines.
Access limited to 3 simultaneous users.
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.
Notable American Women by
Call Number: CT3260 .N5725 2004 Print Reference (first floor of library)
Publication Date: 2005
For each subject, Notable American Women offers a substantial interpretive biographical essay by a distinguished authority that integrates the woman's personal life with her professional achievements set in the context of larger historical developments.