Use authoritative dictionaries and reference sources. Specific reference sources useful for your topics:
Oxford African American Studies Center: The Online Authority on the African American Experience.
"Features more than 10,000 articles by top scholars in the field, over 1,750 images, more than 300 primary sources with specially written commentaries, nearly 150 maps, 150 charts and tables, and over 6,000 biographies. The core content includes: Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, second ed.; Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895; Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the present; Black Women in America, second ed.; African American National Biography; Dictionary of African Biography; The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Thought." [Publisher's description]
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits.
New York: Facts on File, 1992.
(Olin Library Reference BF 1461 .G85x 1992)
A subject encyclopedia about ghosts.
Literature Resource Center
A literature reference database that combines biographical, bibliographical, and contextual information on authors and their works (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, history, and journalism). Draws from Gale's literary databases, including Dictionary of Literary Biography Complete Online, Contemporary Authors, and Contemporary Literary Criticism.
New Dictionary of the History of Ideas.
Revised edition. 6 volumes.
Detroit: Scribners, 2005.
(Online. Print: Olin Reference CB 9 .N49 2005)
"[S]urvey of the history of Western thought and culture, presented through 700 alphabetically arranged entries. Each entry explores the origin, cultural interpretations, and historical themes of such subjects as beauty, love, feminism, diversity, and social capital, among many others." [Publisher's introduction]
Oxford Encyclopedia of American Cultural & Intellectual History.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
(Online. Print: Olin Reference E 169.1 .O945 2013)
"[A] record of the nation’s values, aspirations, anxieties, and beliefs as expressed in both everyday life and formal bodies of thought.... [I]ncorporates popular entertainment ranging from minstrel shows to video games, middlebrow ventures like Chautauqua lectures and book clubs, and preoccupations such as "perfectionism" and "wellness" that have shaped Americans’ behavior at various points in the past and that continue to influence attitudes in the present. The work also make available recent scholarly insights into the writings of political scientists, philosophers, feminist theorists, social reformers, and other thinkers...." [Introduction]
Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
(Online. Print: Olin Reference PS 21 .E537 2004)
Encompasses "the range and depth of American literary history from the 1600s to the present day.... [I]ncludes essays on poets, playwrights, essayists, and novelists, as well as major works and essays on literary movements, periods, and themes. [A]rticles offer historical perspective and social context along with a range of possibilities with regard to critical approach." [Introduction]
Oxford Encyclopedia of American Social History.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
(Online. Print: Olin Reference HN 57 .O94 2012)
"More than 450 entries in this work examine our shared history with entries on the way automobiles shaped American lives, the westward movement of settlers and farmers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the transformation of work over time, the women's suffrage movement, counterculture, leisure activities, consumption patterns, voting habits, population movements, racial divides, and many more topics." [Introduction]
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture.
5 volumes. 2nd ed.
Detroit: St. James Press, 2013.
(Online. Print: Olin Reference E 169.1 .S764x 2000)
A guide to all facets of popular culture in the United States in the twentieth century.
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