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REL 490/495: Senior Seminar: Background

Types of Reference Books

Specialized encyclopedias that go well beyond the scope of general encyclopedias will help you gain background knowledge, learning key people, dates, speeches, etc. from which you can begin to conduct effective search strategies.

Specialized dictionaries that go well beyond the scope of general dictionaries can help you understand the context and connotations of language used by people of a particular time period. Knowing their terminology can help you identify appropriate search terms.

Chronologies can help you understand the historical context of a person's life, a speech, a law, etc. Chronologies lay out timelines and can provide related search terms for your research.

Biographies, like encyclopedias, provide excellent background information for researchers.

Atlases provide geographic and visual context to history.

Reference Books

Reference books (dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, etc.) provide foundational background information like important names, dates, keywords, and concepts.


Searching for Reference Sources

In Advanced Search, try adding a line (AND, Any field, contains) for any of the following terms to find reference resources:

  • encyclopedias
  • dictionaries
  • chronology
  • biography
  • atlases

Painting. Afrikanischer Student ("African Student'') by Eva Schulze-Knabe, 1960