Middle East Studies: 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).

Multidisciplinary Sources


The Thomas Naff microfilm collection on French-Ottoman relations at PSU
A description of the collection prepared by Professor Thomas Luckett of the Portland State University History Department

Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

Print Resources

The Arab World Today
DS39 .P64 1991 | Basement

The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East

DS62.8 .P64 2002 | 2nd Floor

Encyclopædia Iranica is dedicated to the study of Iranian civilization in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.  The academic reference work will eventually cover all aspects of Iranian history and culture as well as all Iranian languages and literatures, facilitating the whole range of Iranian studies research.The Encyclopædia is an international, collaborative project, based at Columbia University.

 Print version
DS253 .E53 | Basement

Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics
PJ6031 .E53 2006 | 2nd Floor

Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East & North Africa
DS43 .E53 2004| 2nd Floor

Historical Dictionary Series
Historical dictionaries of personalities, places, events, movements, and ideas of individual countries. Most have been compiled by foremost authorities on the area. Cataloged individually and some of them are available online from NetLibrary. The latest editions are listed here.

Afghanistan NetLibrary
Algeria DT283.7 .N39 2006 NetLibrary
Arab and Islamic Organizations DS36.55 .C57 2001 Basement
Egypt DT75 .G65 2003 2nd Floor
Jordan NetLibrary
Lebanon DS80.9 .A28 1998 2nd Floor
Morocco DT313.7 .P37 2006 NetLibrary
Pakistan NetLibrary
Palestine NetLibrary
Saudi Arabia NetLibrary
Syria DS94.9 .C66 1996 2nd Floor


Western Sahara

DDR436 .H47 2002

DT346 .S7 P39 2006

2nd Floor


Yemen NetLibrary

An Historical Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
DS119.7 .H554 1996 | 2nd Floor

The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic world
DS35.53 .O95 1995 | 2nd Floor

Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East
DS119.7 .H554 1996 | 2nd Floor

Political leaders of the contemporary Middle East and North Africa : a biographical dictionary

DS61.5 .P65 1990  | 3rd Floor

Who's Who in the Arab World

DS61.5 .W5 2005-2006 | 2nd Floor