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History 102: Western Civilization, 1648-1991: Subject Encyclopedias

Research strategies and resources for your blog post and mini-research assignment

Key Steps

This course guide is divided into three sections:  subject encyclopedias, primary sources, and secondary sources. 

For your blog post, you'll want to concentrate on the tabs for subject encyclopedias and primary sources.

For your mini-research assignment, you'll want to go to the tabs for subject encyclopedias and secondary sources.

If you'd like to brainstorm source possibilities or have any other research questions, please don't hesitate to contact Peggy Burge, History liaison librarian!

What's a subject encyclopedia?

Subject encyclopedias are a type of tertiary sources and are excellent starting points!  They consist of information synthesized from primary and secondary sources.  These resources give you succinct overviews of your topic, explain scholarly arguments, point out interesting questions, and refer you to especially key sources. 

Using Subject Encyclopedias

Articles in subject encyclopedias are especially helpful when you are trying to contextualize a primary source.  Here's an example:

  • Suppose your primary source is the trial transcript of a young apprentice arrested in London during the Gordon Riots of 1780.  You certainly could look for entries specifically on the Gordon Riots, but you might also consider looking at an article on apprenticeship in The Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood, or an essay on mob violence in The Encyclopedia of European Social History.


Online Subject Encyclopedia Collections

Each collection listed below includes hundreds of volumes of specialized reference resources.

Recommended Subject Encyclopedias

The selection of subject encyclopedias below will give you a sense of the range of titles available to you.  If you're not sure where to start, or can't seem to find an entry that helps you contextualize your primary source, ask Peggy for suggestions.

Associate Director for Public Services

Peggy Burge's picture
Peggy Burge
Collins Library 119

Peer Research Advising

Melanie Schaffer '16, Peer Research Advisor

Office: Collins Library Learning Commons
Office Hours: Sundays 8-10 p.m., Tuesdays 8-10 p.m.
As your Peer Research Advisor, Melanie's primary focus is to help first-year students find resources for research projects in the Seminars in Scholarly Inquiry and other 100-level classes. She also can help with evaluating sources and citation styles.