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Historical Research

guide to select resource for historical research, including online digital collections, and print and microform collections in the Blume Library, including primary sources

Why use encyclopedias? Background information and initial sources

Encyclopedias offer you a quick way to become familiar with a topic, the key people and places involved in an historic moment, and the time frame of your topic.  These sources will help you find a topic and/or narrow your focus.  

Typically, encyclopedia articles are written by experts (often listing the author) and can include a selected list of key secondary and primary works on the subject.

Subject-specific encyclopedia articles also list key books and articles on a topic and related sources.  Encyclopedias appear in Discover and encyclopedia databases.

Take a look at one or two sources to find the most relevant and timely encyclopedia articles on your topic.

Encyclopedia Databases

The databases listed here only include encyclopedias. Search them if you just want encyclopedia articles.

Best Bets

Other Options

Discover encyclopedia search example

Discover: Locating Subject Encyclopedias

Discover is a great place to search for encyclopedias, both in print in the Blume Library and also as online eBooks.

Tips to locate encyclopedia entries in Discover:

  1. 1st line - type in term "encyclopedias" on the 1st line and drop-down to Subject
  2. 2nd line - type in a word from your topic (name, place, event, etc.)
  3. Search for all results.
  4. Limit your search to Books in the left navigation window

This is an image showing how to search for encyclopedia entries in Discover.