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HISTORY: SUBJECT GUIDE: Getting Started

Starting points for History research

Online Reference Collections

Not sure where to look?  Each of these online collections will introduce you to a wealth of dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Biographical Reference

Also try the Biography Reference Center, an online database that offers entries on nearly half a million persons.

Reference Resources for History

The subject encyclopedias listed on this page have a very broad focus, but Collins Library also has hundreds of even more specialized history reference resources, both print and online, that focus on specific regions, eras, or themes.  Please search Primo to identify additional encyclopedias and dictionaries or ask a librarian for suggestions.

Subject Encyclopedias: General History

Subject Encyclopedias: Region- or Country Focus

What's a tertiary source?

Tertiary sources are excellent starting points!  They consist of information synthesized from primary and secondary sources.  Examples include:

  • Almanacs
  • Chronologies
  • Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
  • Directories
  • Fact books
  • Guidebooks
  • Indexes, abstracts, bibliographies used to locate primary and secondary sources
  • Manuals
  • Textbooks

These resources give you succinct overviews of your topic, explain scholarly arguments, point out interesting questions, and refer you to especially key sources.