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Art History: Reference Works

Why Reference Works?

Reference works are an excellent first stop in your research and are incredibly useful for the following:

  • Getting an overview of a topic
  • Getting topic ideas for a paper topic or narrowing your topic
  • Brainstorming keywords for searching and learning the vocabulary used by authors in that area
  • Learning the key works on a given topic
  • Discovering the key authors on a given topic

Reference works are a good starting off point, but should not be cited in your research as they are not considered primary or secondary sources. The only exception is when reference works contain primary and secondary sources (like collections of documents and essays).

Bibliographies

Bibliographies point you to the key works on specific subjects. Those with a call number starting with REF are on the 2nd floor and all others are in the stacks by their call number. Anything without a call number is an electronic resource.

Biographies

Online Subject Encyclopedias

Scholarly subject encyclopedias provide in-depth information about a specific topic. Entries or articles, written by scholars or subject experts, include bibliographies or suggested readings that will lead to more information on your topic.

Use subject encyclopedias for basic background reading, to find a topic, or to identify keywords in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

 

Search for Subject Encyclopedias (PSU Only)

Enter a topic below

Online Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias and dictionaries provide background information on a variety of topics.

Selected Print Resources

Encyclopedias and dictionaries provide background information on a variety of topics. Those with a call number starting with REF are on the 2nd floor and all others are in the stacks by their call number.

Contemporary artists
N6490 .C6567 2002. 2 volumes | 2nd Floor Reference

Contemporary women artists
N8354 .C66 1999 | 2nd Floor Reference

[Grove's] Dictionary of Art
N31 .D5 1996. 34 volumes. | Offsite. Please make a request

Encyclopedia of ancient Egyptian architecture
NA215 .A74 2003 | 2nd Floor Reference

Encyclopedia of Latin American and Caribbean art
N6502 .E53 1999 | 2nd Floor Reference

Encyclopedia of Sculpture
NB198 .E53 2004. 3 volumes. | 2nd Floor Reference

Encyclopedia of World Art
N31 .E533. 17 volumes. | 2nd Floor Reference

Guide to Research in Classical Art and Mythology
N7760 .V3 1991 | 3rd Floor

Historical Art Index, A.D. 400-1650
N8210 .R6 1989 | 2nd Floor Reference

Islamic art and architecture 650-1250
N6260 .E79 2001 | 2nd Floor Reference & 3rd floor shelves

Mythological and Classical World Art Index
N7760 .R63 1991 | 2nd Floor Reference

Oxford Companion to the photograph
TR9 .O94 2005 | 5th Floor

Oxford Dictionary of Art
N33 .O93 2004 | 3rd Floor. Also available through Oxford Reference Online.

World Painting Index
ND45 .H38. 2 volumes | 2nd Floor Reference.

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias with images