Research Guide: History Research (HIST 3010)

Reference Works

Quite often when doing research you will come across concepts, theories, names, and terms that are new and unfamiliar. Reference works are good sources for becoming familiar with the unfamiliar. In addition to our many print volumes, the Library has a varied collection of reference works online.

Style Guides

The library has print copies of the manuals for the major and many of the less used styles. The library has print and online versions of the Chicago Manual of Style, the one most used in History.

  • Chicago Manual of Style - REF Z253 .U69 or  Online
  • A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers - LB2369 .T8

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Some professions using very specific terminology will have dictionaries of their own such as Black's Medical Dictionary and Black's Law Dictionary. Some academic disciplines have dictionaries as well, for example, A Dictionary of Sociology. History has many dictionaries on specific topics, such as the Dictionary of American History.

In addition to the more familiar general encyclopedias, like the Encyclopedia Americana, the library has many subject specific encyclopedias. These usually contain much longer and more in-depth essays. Some examples of these at the library include:

  • Encyclopedia of Local History - REF E180 .K25 2000
  • The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Through World History - REF GT507 .G74
  • The Encyclopedia of Strikes in American History - REF HD5324 .E39

For all its limitations Wikipedia can be a good source of background information. Some articles are quite long, provide a useful bibliography, and include extensive citations. The entry on Max Weber is a good example. Wikipedia excels at covering pop culture. You will find long multi-page entries for pop culture franchise like Star Wars and Harry Potter, as well as entries for one-hit wonders like the music group The Youngbloods and obscure no-hit bands like Ednaswap.


Some reference works focus strictly on biography. Entries range from very brief to quite long. The three biographical dictionaries below include American and British people of some significance. Other dictionaries include peoples from other countries or nationalities, or people sharing a common theme such as scientists or musicians.

  • American National Biography - REF CT213 .A68 or Online
  • Dictionary of American Biography - REF E176 .D563
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - REF DA28 .O95 or Online


Bibliographies provide extensive lists of important works on topics and themes in history. These are a great place to begin your research in the secondary literature and historiography of your subject.

  • Harvard Guide to American History - REF E178.F77 1974
  • The Mining West: A Bibliography and Guide to the History and Literature of Mining in the American and Canadian West - REF F593 .M56
  • Reconstruction in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography -   E668 .L55

Books and Archives

In addition to the many print resources available in the UVU Library, you have access to other libraries and a number of excellent online resources for finding books and primary sources.

Other Libraries

You can search other academic libraries. Academic libraries in Utah will check out books to you with your UV ID card. (Check with the library before going to get a book to see if they require anything in addition to your card.) Items at other libraries can be requested through interlibrary loan. 

  • Worldcat searches the collections of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide. A great place to look for books outside the UVU collection.
  • The Harold B. Lee and Marriott libraries are the two nearest research university libraries. You are welcome at both libraries.

Interlibrary Loan

This service allows you to request items from other libraries. Requests for books usually take 10 working days. Article requests take 2-3 working days. There is no extra cost for this service.

Online Sources

The following are some of the best online sources:

  • The  Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) searches archival collections across the USA. A great place to start your search for primary sources in US History.
  • Europeana searches the digital collections of European libraries and archives. A great place to start your search for primary sources in European History.
  • Google Books offers searchable access to thousands of public domain and copyrighted works. Some newer works are only available as previews.
  • Hathi Trust is a consortium of research libraries, this site contains digitized copies of public domain and copyrighted works held by the libraries. You can read the search the complete text of public domain works. A great source for books published before 1920.
  • Internet Archive offers downloadable copies of millions of ebooks from the United States and Canada in a wide variety of languages.
  • Mountain West Digital Library is a consortium of digital collections from universities, colleges, public libraries, museums, and historical societies in Utah and Nevada. A great place to search for primary sources in local history.

Additional Resources


Handbooks are collections of essays on a topic. For example, The Oxford Handbook of History of Mathematics contains over thirty essays on the history of mathematics, like “Heavenly learning, statecraft, and scholarship: the Jesuits and their mathematics in China”. There is no direct way to search for these books specifically. However, Oxford and Cambridge publish lots of handbooks. You can try searching for your general topic and adding “AND Cambridge history”, “AND Oxford history”, or “AND handbook”. For example:

It’s also helpful to limit your results to just books.

Book Reviews

Book reviews can be found using OneSearch or individual article databases. OneSearch and some article databases provide a limiter for reviews. Alternately, you can add AND review to your search statement. For example:

This Republic of Suffering AND review

Historiography Essays

There is no simple method to find historiographical essays. You can add AND historiography to your search in OneSearch. You may find Historiography as a subject limiter in OneSearch. Often, you will find a chapter in a book is a historiographical essay. For example:

American Revolution AND historiography

Theses and Dissertations

There are two methods to find dissertations. Use OneSearch and limit your results to dissertations. Use the Digital Dissertations database. It’s best to try both. Digital copies can be requested using Interlibrary loan at no extra cost to you.

Using Citations to Find Items

When doing research you will find references to books and articles that you will want to read. There are several methods you can use to locate these items. If you don't find the item with your first search, try using a different method. Sometimes there are errors in the citation or quirks in the search engines that hide the item. If you don't find the item ask a librarian for help or request the item through interlibrary loan (ILL).

  • OneSearch - To see if the Library has the item you can search for the article’s title. You may also try searching for the article’s author.
  • Journals by Title - You can also see if the Library has access to the journal by searching for the journal title using the Journals by Title link under the Find menu on the Library website.
  • Google - If you don't find the item at the library try searching for it using Google. Sometimes journals post articles on the web and allow you to download them for free.
  • Google Scholar - An extra, nifty feature from Google is their Scholar search. When you find an important article, search for it in Google Scholar. After the entry for the item you will see a link 'cited by' followed by a number. That is the number of items that have cited the article. This is a helpful clue to the importance of the article. Following that link will list all of those items. This is a great tool for tracing the path of research forward.

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