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HIST 4000 - HIST 4001 History Honors (Fall 2018): Encyclopedias

A guide to library research for history honors thesis research


Encyclopedias are great for:

  • choosing a topic
  • quick self-education
  • perspective on a topic
  • variant spellings, vocabulary, terminology
  • bibliography

Cambridge Histories Online

Cambridge Histories Online

Excellent resource. Full text. Chapters as pdfs. Extremely high quality essays with rich footnotes and bibliography.

Oxford Bibliographies Online

Peer reviewed annotated sources in a variety of disciplines:

Oxford Bibliographies Online (OBO)


Reference collections are small enough to browse effectively.

Reference call numbers at Olin, Uris, Africana, Kroch, etc.:

History: D,E,F

Archives: CD

Biography: CT   

Bibliography: Z (particularly Z6000-7000)      

Foreign Language Dictionaries: P

Literature: P

Religion: B

Statistics: HA

Language Dictionaries


Statistical Background Sources

International Historical Statistics: Europe, 1750-1993. 4th rev. ed. London: Macmillan Reference Ltd., 1998. (Olin Reference HA 1107 M5x 1998) 

International Historical Statistics: Africa, Asia, and Oceania 1750-1993. 3rd rev. ed. London: Macmillan Reference Ltd., 1998. (Olin Reference HA4675 .M552x 1998)

International Historical Statistics: the Americas, 1750-1993. 4th ed. London: Macmillan Reference Ltd., 1998. (Olin Reference HA175 .M55x 1998)

Historical statistics of the United States. Cambridge [England] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2006- Millennial ed. 

Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970. 2 vols. Washington: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1975. (Olin Reference and Olin Reference HA 202 A385+ 1976) Now online as pdfs: Volume 1 Volume 2 

Statistical Abstract of the United States. Washington: Bureau of the Census, 1878- . Print volumes available in Olin. Latest volume in Reference. Also available in most other libraries. (HA 202) (Also available online through the Library Gateway's Databases) The standard annual summary of statistics, designed to serve as a convenient volume for statistical reference and is a guide to other statistical publications and sources.


Selected titles


Antiquity  (Olin & Uris Reference call numbers DE)

The Oxford classical dictionary. 4th ed. Oxford New York : Oxford University Press, 1996. (Fine Arts Library Reference DE5 .Ox2 1996; Olin Library Reference DE5 .O98 1996+ and Olin Library Room 605) The classic.

Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean: Greece and Rome.  New York: Scribner's, 1988. (Olin  DE59 .C58 1988)

Civilizations of the Ancient Near East  New York: Scribner's, Macmillan Library Reference USA; London: Simon & Schuster Prentice Hall International, c1995.(Olin Reference DS57 .C55x 1995)


Middle Ages (Olin Reference call numbers D-DF)

Dictionary of the Middle Ages. 12 vols. New York: Scribners, 1982-1988. (Olin Reference D 114 D55+; also Uris) The classic.

The Crusades: an encyclopedia. (Olin Library Reference D155 .C78 2006+)  Four volumes.


Europe (Olin Reference call numbers D-DF)

Encyclopedia of European Social History: From 1350 To 2000. 6 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001. (Olin Reference HN 373 .E63 2001)

Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History. 58 vols. Gulf Breeze: Academic International, 1976-1995. (Olin Reference DK14 M68)   The classic.

Germany: An Encyclopedia (Olin Reference DD126 .M43x 2001+)

Tudor England: An Encyclopedia (Olin Reference DA315 .T753x 2001)


Asia (Kroch Asia Reference)

Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan. 9 vols. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1983. Plus suppl. 1986. (Olin and Kroch Asia Reference DS 805 K76+)

Encyclopedia of Asian history. New York, NY : Scribner, c1988. Four volumes. (Kroch Library Asia and Olin Library Reference +DS31 .E56)


Other Areas of the World


United States (Olin & Uris Reference call numbers E-F)


The Oxford Companion to United States history. Oxford University Press, 2001. Also in print, (Olin Library Reference E174 .O94 2001 +).

Dictionary of American history. A classic ten volume encyclopedia. (in print--Olin Library Reference E174 .D52x 2003 +).

Encyclopedia of American foreign policy. Thomson/Gale, 2002. 2nd ed. Also in print, (Olin Library Reference E183.7 .E52x 2002 +).

Encyclopedia of American Religions. Detroit: Gale, 1987. (Olin Reference BL2530.058 M52+ 1987).

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. 5 vols. New York: Macmillan Library Reference, 1996. (Olin and Africana Reference E 185 E54 1996).

Encyclopedia of American Cultural & Intellectual History.  New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001. (Olin Library Reference E169.1 .E624x 2001)

Encyclopedia of American Social History. 3 vols. New York: Scribner's, 1992. (Olin Reference HN 57 .E56 1992).

Encyclopedia of American Political History. 3 vols. New York: Scribner, 1984. (Uris and Olin Reference E 183 .E56).

American Revolution Reference Library. Detroit: Gale, 2000.

American Civil War Farmington Hills, Mich. : U.X.L., c2000. 

Encyclopedia of the Confederacy. 4 vols. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993. Olin Library Reference E487 .E56

Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century. 3 vols. New York: Scribner's, 2001. Olin Library Reference E169.1 .E626x 2001

Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: a Political, Social, and Military History. 5 vols. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2000. Olin Library Reference E468 .H47x 2000

Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1989. (Olin Reference F 209 .E56 1989) 

Women during the Civil War : an encyclopedia. New York : Routledge, 2004. (Olin Library Reference E628 .H37x 2004)

Encyclopedia of the American Civil War : a political, social, and military history Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, c2000. Five volumes. (Olin Library Reference E468 .H47x 2000)

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. 5 vols. Detroit, MI: St. James Press, c2000. (Olin Reference E 169.1 S764x 2000) Five volumes.

Encyclopedia of the United States in the Twentieth Century. 4 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1996. (Olin Reference E740.7 .E56 1996).

The Encyclopedia of Civil Rights in America. Armonk, NY: Sharpe Reference, 1998. 3 volumes. (Olin Reference E185.61 E544x 1998).




American National Biography [New York] : Oxford University Press, c2000.  Highly recommended. Excellent bibliography.

American biographical archive.London ; New York : K.G. Saur, [1986- 1995]. (microfiche CT213 .A51 1995 shelved in microforms alcove Olin Library Lower Level). This set reproduces entries from biographical sources. Includes Canadians. Indexed by American biographical index (Olin Library Reference + CT213 .A511 1998 ). 

Dictionary of Canadian Biography Highly recommended. Excellent bibliography.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 21 vols. plus suppl. London: Oxford UP, 2004. The standard work for English biography.  Highly recommended. Excellent bibliography.

British biographical archive: a one-alphabet cumulation of 324 of the most important English-language biographical reference works originally published between 1601 and 1929. London: K. G. Saur, 1984. 1236 microfiches. (Olin lower level microtexts) Indexed by British biographical index (Olin Reference +CT773 .B86 1998).

Dictionnaire de biographie française. Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1933-92. (In progress.) (Olin Reference +CT 143.D55) An important dictionary of national biography, unfortunately still incomplete (to date up to L). 

Allgemeine deutsche Biographie Leipzig: Duncker, 1875-1912. 56 volumes.(Olin stacks CT1053 .A43) The outstanding German biographical dictionary, containing long, signed articles, with bibliographies, on persons from early times to the end of the 19th century.


Gale virtual reference library Excellent collection of full text encyclpoedias.

Sage Reference Online Excellent collection of full text encyclpoedias.

Oxford Reference Online Outstanding collection of encyclopedias, dictionaries, and companions.

International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences by N. J. Smelser (Editor-In-Chief); P. B. Baltes (Editor-In-Chief)  An ambitious project to map and describe the state of the art in all fields encompassed within the social and behavioral sciences. Available in both print (26 volumes) and online editions, it comprises 4,000 articles, commissioned by 52 section editors, and includes 90,000 bibliographic references as well as comprehensive name and subject indexes. Alphabetically organized and extensively cross-referenced.

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