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WLL 560: Principles of Scholarly Research: Historical Context

Sources for developing overview and background on a period

Reference Sources for historical, political, social or cultural overview and background:

The reference collection can be an excellent place to browse to find subject encyclopedias, subject dictionaries, chronologies, almanacs and handbooks which address a particular historical period of subject. Here's a list of selected call number areas that may be of interest:

A General Works  

 B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion  

 C Auxiliary Sciences Of History  

 D World History And History Of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Etc.  

 E History Of The Americas   

 F History Of The Americas   

 G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation 

H Social Sciences   
HM Sociology
HN Social history and conditions

 J Political Science   

 K Law   

 M Music And Books On Music   

 N Fine Arts   

 P Language And Literature

  • PA: Greek language & literature. Latin language & literature
  • PB: Modern languages. Celtic languages
  • PC: Romance languages
  • PD: Germanic languages. Scandinavian languages
  • PE: English language
  • PF: West Germanic languages
  • PG: Slavic languages. Baltic Languages. Albanian language
  • PH: Uralic languages.Basque language
  • PJ: Oriental languages & literatures
  • PK: Indo-Iranian languages & literatures
  • PL: Languages & literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
  • PM: Hyperborean, Indian, and artificial languages
  • PN: Literatue (General)
  • PQ: French literature - Italian literature - Spanish literature - Portuguese literature
  • PR: English literature
  • PS: American literature
  • PT: German literature - Dutch literature, etc.
  • PZ: Fiction and juvenile belles lettres

 Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources

Aside from physically browsing to find relevant encyclopedias, to find encyclopedias in library catalogs, combine your topic with the word encyclopedia. For example: encyclopedia vietnam war

Online encyclopedias and databases that historical overview:

Primary Sources in Library Databases

The Library has many many full-text databases of electronic primary sources. Here are some collections to explore:


Primary Sources on the Web

Many libraries, museums, and archives have digitized their historic documents and put them online in digital libraries. Here are some large collections (and links to other large collections) you may want to explore.

The image at right is an illuminated page in Javanese script from a chronicle of a Javanese court in Yogyakarta, via the World Digital Library.

illuminated page in Javanese script is from a chronicle of a Javanese court in Yogyakarta