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United States History: Reference Sources

Why Use Reference Sources?

Use Reference Sources to find background information on your topic, and to locate brief, authoritative information (such as dates or statistics).

Reference Sources for U.S. History

An encyclopedia article or dictionary entry can give you a broad overview of your topic.
Articles like these can help you to identify key concepts, to define key terms, and to discover who has done important work on your topic. They often also include bibliographies to guide your further reading.

Encyclopedia of American studies
Published by Johns Hopkins University Press for the American Studies Association (ASA), the Encyclopedia of American Studies is an open access resource that covers the history, philosophy, arts, and cultures of the United States in relation to the world, from pre-colonial days to the present, from various perspectives and the global American Studies movement.

Encyclopedia of U.S. political history
[online resource; UCSB IP addresses only]
Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. 2010.
- Also available in print at Ref E183 .E53 2010 v.1-7

Oxford companion to United States history
[online resource; UCSB IP addresses only]
New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
- Also available in print at Ref E174 .O94 2001.

The Princeton encyclopedia of American political history
[online resource; UCSB IP addresses only]
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010.
- Also available in print at Ref E183 .P85 2010 v.1-2

Nash, Gary B. Encyclopedia of American history
New York: Facts on File, 2003.
- Ref E174 .E53 2003 v.1-11

Kutler, Stanley I. Dictionary of American history
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003.
- Ref E174 .D52 2003 v.1-10

Rosenfeld, Susan C. Encyclopedia of American historical documents
New York: Facts On File, 2004.
- Ref E173 .E54 2004 v.1-3


Finkelman, Paul. Encyclopedia of the United States in the nineteenth century
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001.
- Ref E169.1 .E626 2001 v.1-3

Kutler, Stanley I. Encyclopedia of the United States in the twentieth century
London: Simon & Schuster and Prentice Hall International, 1996.
- Ref E740.7 .E53 1996 v.1-4


Finkelman, Paul. Encyclopedia of African American history, 1896 to the present. 
New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
- Ethnic & Gender Studies Ref E185 .E5453 2009 v.1-5Ling, et al. 

Asian American history and culture: an encyclopedia
Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2010.
- Ref E184.A75 A8287 2010 v.1-2

Stavans, et al. Encyclopedia Latina: history, culture, and society in the United States
Danbury, Conn.: Grolier Academic Reference, 2005.
- Ethnic & Gender Studies Ref E184.S75 E587 2005 v.1-4


See also the Blackwell Companions to American History

Do an Advanced Search in Library Catalog portion of UCSB Library Search for the Exact Phrase "Blackwell Companions to American History" to find such titles as A companion to the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (2017), A companion to Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover (2014), and A companion to the American Revolution (2000).


American Civil War: the definitive encyclopedia and document collection
[online resource; UCSB IP addresses only]
Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2013.

Chronological history of U.S. foreign relations
New York: Routledge, 2003.
- Ref E183.7 .B745 2003 v.1-3

The Greenwood guide to American popular culture
Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.
- Ref E169.1 .G7555 2002 v.1-4

History of American presidential elections, 1789-2001
Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2002.
- Ref E183 .H58 2002 v.1-11


Additional Reference Sources for U.S. History:

Additional encyclopedias are listed on the World History (generally) research guide, under the "Reference Sources" → "Encyclopedias & Dictionaries" tab.

Additional encyclopedias are listed on the World History by Period research guide, under the "Prehistory & Ancient" tab, the "Medieval History" tab, etc.

Additional encyclopedias are listed on the World History by Region research guide, under the "Africa" tab, the "Asia" tab, etc. 

Additional encyclopedias are listed on the World History by Topic research guide, under the "Commerce, Commodities & Material Culture" tab, the "Empires, Borderlands & their Legacies" tab, etc.


How to Find History Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Handbooks and more in the UCSB Library:

To find encyclopedias (or dictionaries, handbooks, etc.) in the UCSB Library using UCSB Library Search, do an Advanced Search and change the search from "Articles, Books and More" to "Library Catalog" before searching. 

   

In the top line of the search box, type in a word or phrase that represents the general topic of the encyclopedia you wish to find - here, we are searching for an encyclopedia that covers the Arab-Israeli conflict - and then type the word "encyclopedia*" into the second search line.

Change the drop-down box on the second search line from "Any field" to "Subject."


You can also find a list of online encyclopedias, by title, under the Articles & Databases tab on the UCSB Library home page.

   

 

Broad, comprehensive Histories, from respected publishers, are often good places to begin your reading.
Chronologies place persons and events in their historical context.

Social history of the United States
[online resource; UCSB IP addresses only]
Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2009. v.1-10


Oxford history of the United States [unnumbered series] 

Middlekauff, Robert. The glorious cause: the American Revolution, 1763-1789.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
- Main Library E208 .M465 2005

Wood, Gordon S. Empire of liberty: a history of the early Republic, 1789-1815.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
- Main Library E164 .W63 2009

Howe, Daniel Walker. What hath God wrought: the transformation of America, 1815-1848.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
- Main Library E338 .H69 2007

McPherson, James M. Battle cry of freedom: the Civil War era.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
- Main Library E173 .O94

White, Richard. The Republic for which it stands: the United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.
- Main Library E668 .W58 2017

Kennedy, David M. Freedom from fear: the American people in depression and war, 1929-1945.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
- Main Library E801 .K46 1999

Patterson, James T. Grand expectations: the United States, 1945-1974.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
- Main Library E175 .P38 1996

Patterson, James T. Restless giant: the United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
- Main Library E839 .P38 2005

Herring, George C. From colony to superpower: U.S. foreign relations since 1776.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
- E183.7 .H44 2008


Schlesinger Jr., Arthur M. and Fred L Israel. History of American presidential elections, 1789-2001.
Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2002.
- Ref E183 .H58 2002 v.1-11

Weeks, et al.  The new Cambridge history of American foreign relations.
Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
- Main Library E183.7 .N48 2013 v.1-4


Chronologies:

American decades
Detroit: Gale Research, 1994-
- Ref E169.12 .A419 1994
- v.1: 1900-1909. v.2: 1910-1919. v.3: 1920-1929. v.4: 1930-1939. v.5: 1940-1949. v.6: 1950-1959. v.7: 1960-1969. v.8: 1970-1979. v.9: 1980-1989. v.10: 1990-1999.

Brune, Lester H., and Richard Dean Burns. Chronological history of U.S. foreign relations
New York: Routledge, 2003.
- Ref E183.7 .B745 2003 v.1-3

Clements, John. Chronology of the United States. 2nd ed. 
Dallas: Political Research, 1997.
- Main Library E174.5 .C63 1997

Gordon, Lois G., and Alan Gordon. American chronicle: year by year through the twentieth century
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.
- Main Library E169.1 .G664 1999


How to Find Books on History:

To find books on history in the UCSB Library using UCSB Library Search, do an Advanced Search and change the search from "Articles, Books and More" to "Library Catalog" before searching. 

   

In the top line of the search box, type in a word or phrase that represents the topic of the history you wish to find - here, we are searching for a history of the Soviet Union - and then type the word "history" into the second search line.  Change the drop-down box on the second search line from "Any field" to "Subject."

Historical atlases help researchers see the geographical connections between peoples and events.
Gazetteers are dictionaries of place names and geographic features (such as rivers, lakes and mountains) that give the location of each entry.

Fisher, Ron. National Geographic historical atlas of the United States
Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2004.
- Sciences & Engineering G1201.S1 F5 2004

Gilbert, Martin. The Routledge atlas of American history. 6th ed.
New York: Routledge, 2009.
- Sciences & Engineering G1201.S1 G53 2009

Hayes, Derek. Historical atlas of the United States: with original maps
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.
- Sciences & Engineering G1201.S1 H4 2007

Hellmann, Paul T. Historical gazetteer of the United States
New York: Routledge, 2005.
- Ref E154 .H45 2005


David Rumsey Map Collection
Private collection of more than 150,000 maps, primarily rare 18th and 19th century maps of North and South America, along with maps of the World, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania

Historical Map Archive
An online resource from the University of Alabama.

University of Texas at Austin. Perry-Castañeda Library Historical Maps
- See also the Perry-Castañeda Library's extensive list of Historical Map Web Sites, with links to individual maps online from sources other than the Perry-Castañeda Library.


How to Find Atlases & Gazetteers:

To find atlases or gazetteers in the UCSB Library using UCSB Library Search, do an Advanced Search and change the search from "Articles, Books and More" to "Library Catalog" before searching. 

   

In the top line of the search box, type in a word or phrase that represents the general topic of the encyclopedia you wish to find - here, we are searching for an encyclopedia that covers the Roman empire - and then type the word "atlas*" OR "maps" or any other word that represents the type of item you want into the second search line.  In this instance, DO NOT change the drop-down box on the second search line from "Any field" to "Subject"; you may want to find this facet of your topic in a title, or table of contents, or other part of the catalog record.

Biographical dictionary and encyclopedia entries can give you brief, authoritative information on the lives of individuals of note throughout history, as well as guidance for your further reading.

Biographical directory of the United States Congress, 1774-present
United States. Congress. Historical Office.
Washington, D.C.: The Congress 1998]-

How to Find Biographies:

To find biographies in the UCSB Library using UCSB Library Search, do an Advanced Search and change the search from "Articles, Books and More" to "Library Catalog" before searching. 

   

In the top lines of the search box, type in words or phrases that represents the general topic of the biography you wish to find - here, we are searching for biographies of U.S. presidents - and then type the word "biography" into the bottom search line.  Change the drop-down box on this search line from "Any field" to "Subject."


The search above looks only in the Subject part of the catalog record for our search words. But there are a variety of ways to search for biographies. For example:

Keyword: Babe Ruth AND Subject: biography
Keyword: Women AND politics AND biography

You can also search for biographies by Subject, without using the word "biography":
Subject: Nixon, Richard M

And you can find autobiographies with an Author search:
Author: Nixon, Richard M

Historical statistics of the United States
Cambridge England; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006-
- Also in print at Ref HA202.H57 Vol. 1-5 2006

Statistical abstract of the United States
Links to the more or less annual statistical abstracts prepared with data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and many other Federal agencies and private organizations. Dating from 1878.

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database
Records of voyages of slaving expeditions between 1514 and 1866, drawn from archives and libraries throughout the Atlantic world.

United States Historical Census Browser.  
Census data describing the people and the economy of the US for each state and county from 1790 to 1970.

University of Wisconsin: On-Line Data Archive: Slave Movement During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Archive of raw data the history of the transatlantic slave trade, downloadable with free registration.


If you are looking for more sources for historical statistics, check out ...

PENN (University of Pennsylvania) Libraries. Historical Statistics - Research Guide
- A selective annotated bibliography of sources of U.S. and international historical statistics. 
- See also lists of resources found under the Public Opinion & Statistics tab and the American Government & Politics - Executive Departments & Agencies sub-tab in the UCSB Library Political Science subject guide

Barzun, Jacques. The Modern Researcher
Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2004.
- Main Library LB2369 .B28 2004

Berger, Stefan. Writing History. 3rd ed. 
London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020.
- Main Library D13.W75 W75 2020

Boyd, Kelly. Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing
Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999.
- Ref D14 .E53 1999, v.1-2

Woolf, et al. The Oxford History of Historical Writing
New York: Oxford University Press, 2011-2012.
- Main Library D13 .O94 2011 
- v.1 Beginnings to AD 600; v. 2. 400-1400; v. 3. 1400-1800; v. 4. 1800-1945; v. 5. Historical writing since 1945.

Woolf, Daniel. A Concise History of History.
[online resource; UCSB IP addresses only]
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Kamp, Jeannette et al. Writing History! A companion for historians.
[online resource; UCSB IP addresses only]
Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018.


American Historical Association
The American Historical Association is the largest professional organization serving historians in all fields and all professions. The AHA has become a trusted voice for history education, the professional work of historians, and the critical role of historical thinking in public life.
▪ See especially the site's "Resource Guide for Graduate Students," "Resources for Early Career Professionals," and "Resources for Historical Researchers."


How to Find Historiography

To find books on historiography using UCSB Library Search, do an Advanced Search and change the search from "Articles, Books and More" to "Library Catalog" before searching.  Type "historiography" into the search box, and change the search from "Any field" to "Subject." 

  undefined  

You can add another Subject search line to focus your results. In this instance, we are searching for books on the historiography of World War 2.

The results you see will be books that have been identified as covering the subject: historiography.
 


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