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HIST 2145: Food in America (Fall 2017): Background Information

A library guide for Adrienne Johnson's course

Find Background Material on Food History

Subject Encyclopedias:

Encyclopedia of food and culture
Presents 600 articles on food and its place in human culture and society. Entries on everything from food preparation, distribution and storage to holidays and festivals, nutrition and health, and cultures and cuisines.

The Oxford encyclopedia of food and drink in America / Andrew F. Smith, editor in chief. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2004.
Covers the significant events, inventions, and social movements in American history that have affected the way Americans view, prepare, and consume food and drink.

Sage eReference
A database of 47 reference books published by SAGE covering the social sciences, including such areas as African American studies, anthropology, communication and media studies, economics, education, gender & sexuality studies, history, politics, psychology, social issues, social work & social policy, and sociology.


Find Historical Context for the United States

Use the following reference sources to find background information, context, and definitions. For other helpful titles, ask us for suggestions.

Dictionary of American History.
3rd edition. 10 volumes. New York: Scribners, 2003.
(Online also in print: Olin Reference E 174 .D52x 2003 +)

A comprehensive revision of this classic reference source originally published in 1940, it features updated and revised entries from previous editions, as well as more than 800 new entries. Short entries good for identifying major events and people in U.S. history.

Encyclopedia of American Social History.
3 volumes. New York: Scribners, 1992.
(Olin Reference HN 57 .E56 1992)

The first encyclopedic overview of social issues in U.S. history with insightful articles on many fascinating topics. Good place to explore paper topics. Updated by the brand new 2-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of American Social History, (Olin Reference HN 57 .O94 2012).

Oxford Companion to United States History.
Paul S. Boyer, editor in chief. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001-2012.
(Online; also in print: Olin Reference E 174 .O94 2001 +)

Oxford African-American Studies Center.
New York : Oxford University Press, 2006- .

Contains more than 8,000 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 timeline is a useful starting point.

Oxford Encyclopedia of American Cultural & Intellectual History.
2 volumes. New York: Oxford, 2013.
(Print only: Olin Reference E 169.1 .O945 2013 +)

Like the social history encyclopedia, this title is a source of insightful articles about these particular facets of U.S. history. Bibliographies of additional sources with each article. See the articles in Volume II: Part 6: World War II and the 1950s, for example.

Oxford Encyclopedia of American Social History
New York : Oxford University Press, 2012.
(Online; also 2 volumes in print: Olin Reference HN 57 .O94 2012 +)

Contains 450 articles. It expands and updates the coverage of American social history found in The Oxford Companion to United States History.

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture.
Edited by Tom Pendergast and Sara Pendergast. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000.
Online also in print: Olin Reference E 169.1 .S764x 2000 +)

A good overview of frequently-researched American popular culture topics.


Encyclopedias are great for:

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