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History: Reference Shelf

guide to history research for affiliates of The College of New Jersey (TCNJ)

Selected Reference Books by Historical Topic

hand leafing through reference book

Question: What value has a reference book? Why, for example, consult a scholarly history encyclopedia?

Answer: Encyclopedias are two steps removed from the primary source evidence, that is from the letters, diaries, oral histories, and other first-hand accounts of history. Encyclopedias are instead based on secondary sources. For that reason, encyclopedias and other reference works belong to a class of information sometimes called tertiary sources by librarians.

  • Browse an encyclopedia for help choosing and/or refining your research topic.
  • Reference works help researchers to contextualize their topics, situating the secondary literature within historiographical debates. Context is critical, not least because it is difficult to elicit relevant search results from library databases without employing appropriate "keywords".
  • Easily track down additional sources for further reading.

In short, the reference works listed here are a great way to begin any history-related research project!

Featured title:

Atlas:

Biography:

Companion:

Dictionaries:

Encyclopedias:

Introductions via Primary Sources:

Atlas:

Bibliography:

Biography:

Chronology:

Companion:

Dictionary:

Encyclopedias:

Handbook:

Introductions via Primary Sources:

Bibliography:

Biography:

Chronology:

Encyclopedias:

Handbook:

Introduction via Primary Sources:

Atlas:

Bibliography:

Biography:

Companion:

Dictionary:

Encyclopedias:

Handbook:

Introductory history:

Introductions via Primary Sources:

Statistics:

Atlases:

Companions:

Dictionaries:

Encyclopedias:

Atlas:

Biography:

Companion:

Encyclopedias:

Guide:

Introductions via Primary Sources:

Atlas:

Biography:

Chronologies:

Dictionary:

Encyclopedias:

Introductions via Primary Sources:

See the separate LGBT+ History and Literature libguide for more help researching LGBT+ history.

Encyclopedias published since 2010:

Encyclopedias published between 2000 and 2009:

Introduction via Primary Sources:

Bibliography:

Companion:

Dictionaries:

Encyclopedias:

Handbooks:

Introductory history:

Introductions via primary sources:

Bibliography:

Biography:

Chronology:

Companion:

Dictionary:

Encyclopedias:

Handbook:

Introductions via Primary Sources:

Bibliography:

Companion:

Encyclopedia:

Bibliography:

Biography:

Catalog:

Companion:

Dictionaries:

Directory:

Encyclopedia:

Introductions via Primary Sources:

Atlas:

Bibliography:

Biography:

Companions:

Dictionaries:

Encyclopedias:

Gazetteer:

Introductions via Primary Sources:

Encyclopedias:

Introduction via Primary Sources:

Korean War:

Military History (general):

Religion and War:

United States and War:

Vietnam War:

Women and War:

World War I:

World War II:

Bibliography:

Biography:

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Encyclopedias (United States):

Encyclopedias (World):

First Ladies:

Introductions via Primary Sources:

Featured Title

History Reference Databases

Country Backgrounds & Histories