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History 200 (Prof. Nancy Bristow): Home

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
    • Look for "see also" at the beginning or end of the article
    • Some encyclopedias highlight words in the text of the article to indicate that there is a separate entry on that topic
  • 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
    • The main body of the article may mention key primary source writings and their author(s)
    • Some encyclopedias include excerpts of primary source materials

Broad Overviews: U.S. History

The following three subject encyclopedias are especially good places to start, then branch out to the more specialized encyclopedias. 

Subject Encyclopedias: Focus on Aspects of 20th-century American History

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.

Atlases

Biographical Resources

Guides to History Research & Writing

Subject Guide

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Peggy Burge
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