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ENGL 234: American Literature & Culture: Hamilton!: Subject Encyclopedias

This guide supports further research into Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical masterpiece, 'Hamilton'.

Selected Subject Encyclopedias

Start with these subject encyclopedias and branch out as needed. 

Print encyclopedias and dictionaries are located on the first floor of Collins Library.

More Tertiary Sources

Theatre & Music

Getting Started with Subject Encyclopedias

Subject encyclopedias, handbooks and overviews are scholarly, tertiary works written by experts on a variety of topics. The articles are typically longer and more detailed than those found in general encyclopedias. The background information provides a good starting point as you begin the research process. These resources can help you with:

  • Understanding the scope of a topic
  • Suggesting ideas for narrowing a topic
  • Identifying key concepts, terms, dates and names
  • Listing subject areas related to a topic
  • Recommending sources for further exploration

In Collins Library, the print reference collection is located on the first floor, and most of the online reference collection is available in one of the database collections listed below.  Use Primo to identify subject encyclopedias in either format; or ask a librarian for recommendations.

What do we annotate?

Approach your annotations as a means for providing information to readers that will help them understand, analyze, or evaluate your letter. Based on class discussion, here are some elements to note:

Author / Recipient - What is their relationship? Who is the audience? What is at stake for the author? Language - Spellings of words, definitions, uncommon usage (elements to aid reading comprehension).
Names - Acquaintances, Participants (can provide context for what is said, places, or events)  References (classical, biblical, etc.), Allusions, Quotations - To what do these refer? How do they enhance the text?
Titles / Roles (e.g. Secretary of State) Rhetorical gestures / markings - What language is used? Are words crossed out or italicized? How are these elements connected to the content or purpose of the text? 
Date - In what period is this being written? What are the events surrounding the letter? Purpose of text - Why was this text written? Is it descriptive, informative, or persuasive? Does it show signs of bias? 
Places - Location of letter writer (setting), proximity to recipient Tone - Nature of the conversation. Is it public or private correspondence? Is it formal or intimate? 

Keep in mind, these documents reflect the personal, political, economic, or social perspectives of their creators. Don't forget to look beyond the content of your letter for clues to enhance your analysis.


PRACTICE: Consider the following letter from Angelica Schuyler Church to Thomas Jefferson. What elements of this letter might warrant an annotation or further research? What needs clarification or explanation? How will your annotations enhance a reader's analysis or interpretation of Angelica's writing? 

Once you've selected a few key components of this letter, where will you look for this information? Be strategic! Different types of information will require specific resources. 

Oxford English Dictionary Online

Oxford English Dictionary

Online Reference Collections

Need Help?

This subject guide highlights only a small portion of the many resources available to you. If you're not finding what you need, don't hesitate to contact Katy!

Katy Curtis, Humanities Librarian
Schedule an appointment
tel: (253) 879-3672
office: Collins Library 140

If you can't find Katy, remember there are several ways to get help with your research

For immediate assistance, connect to our 24/7 Ask a Librarian chat service.