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A guide to library research for students in History

General Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and Handbooks are excellent starting points for your research.  They are used to get a basic understanding of your topic, to both ensure the small details and facts of history.

Some key resources for general history are:

When using encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks to start your research look for short reading lists following entries, the author of the entry (as they have likely written other works on the topic) and pay close attention to the proper nouns related to your topic as using accurate and, possibly, varient spellings is important when searching for books and articles.

You will find that there are a wide variety of print and electronic encyclopedias and dictionaries in our collections.  

  • To locate an encyclopedia, go to the Library Catalogue and search encyclopedias and history and your topic (eg, encyclopedias history military)  as a subject. 
  • To locate a dictionary, go to the Library Catalogue and search dictionaries and history and your topic (eg, dictionaries history military)  as a subject.


Atlases are another important reference tool for historical research;  the best way to find them is do do a keyword subject catalogue search using "maps" and "world history" as your search terms. 

A good atlas to start with is:

  • Atlas of world history O'Brien, Patrick Karl. 2nd edition (Oxford University Press)
      D21.5 .A89 2010, Taylor Family Digital Library (4th floor)

To find Atlases on a specific topic try combining "maps" and "history" and a term describing your topic (i.e. Canada) for a keyword subject search. 


Chronologies and time-lines as useful for placing historical events in context.  To find chronologies in the library collection try searching the library catalogue by keyword using "chronology".  Below is a link for a general chronology.  The encyclopedias above also often have time-lines accompanying their entries.

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