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HIST 3390 - History Research

Guide for students in HIST 3390

Reference Books


Tells what different words mean and often provides the pronunciation, derivation, current status and proper spelling.  Historical dictionaries can be consulted for detailed definitions of historical events and terms.  Sources you might consult include:

Dictionary of American History — [REFERENCE E 174 .D52 2003]

Encyclopedic entries on people, places, events, themes.  Bibliography.

To locate a dictionary on your topic use the library catalog to do a keyword search across everything.  Example:  civil war AND dictionary


Provide an overview of a topic in articles of varying length and detail.  A good place to start for background information and, in some cases, a bibliography is available.

American Eras — [REFERENCE E 169.1 .A471979 1997]

Provides a chronological look at events in the United States.  Events are divided into broad subject areas with overview essays and some sources for further reading.  Covers the early discover period through 1899. 

New Handbook of Texas — [REFERENCE F 384 .N48 1996] ALSO ONLINE

Provides articles of varying length on people, places, and events in Texas history. Also available electronically through the electronic indexes available via the section of the library home page.

Handbooks & Chronologies

List notable events during different time periods in a particular geographic area, or for a particular topic.  To locate chronologies at Gray Library use the subject searches:

            History, ancient — chronology

            United States —history—chronology

Timetables of History – [STACKS D 11 .G78 2005]

            Provides a chronological list of events


Atlases are collections of maps showing characteristics of difference geographical areas related to population, political conditions, history, and economics.  The pronunciation, latitude, longitude, history of a place, and products produced may be given as well.  Atlases that may be useful include:

CIA World Factbook -- [DOCUMENTS PREX 3.15 CURRENT ONLY; also available ELECTRONICALLY]


Provides statistical information, social, economic, political and geographical information for every country.  Updated annually. 

CIA Map Series -- [DOCUMENTS PREX 3.10/4: current editions only]

Collection of maps updated regularly.  Each country has a political map and a geophysical map.  Larger maps available for continents and regions.  Check library catalog for holdings. 

Complete Atlas of World History -- [STACKS G 1030 .C66 1997 v.1-3 in OVERSIZE SHELVING]

Atlas in three volumes offers color maps with timelines and descriptions of events in world history.

Historical Atlas of the United States -- [REFERENCE G 1201 .S1 N3 1993]

Atlas offering chronology of history from 1400 through the 1990s. Organized in thematic sections, with a wide selection of maps, charts, graphs, statistics and images. Detailed descriptions of events.

Times Atlas of World History -- [STACKS G 1030 .T54 1993 in OVERSIZE SHELVING]

Atlas offering a detailed chronology of events, geographical background to world history, color maps and detailed descriptions of events.

Biographical Resources

A collection of histories of varying length about the lives of individuals.  Biographical works can provide factual information on individuals who played key roles in shaping an event's outcome.  Useful sources include:

Dictionary of American Biography -- [REFERENCE E 176 .D563]

Biographical information about prominent deceased Americans who made major contributions to American life.  Entries vary in length. 

Dictionary of National Biography -- [REFERENCE DA 28 .D47]

Biographical information about prominent deceased persons from England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland who made major contributions to the country. Entries vary in length. 

Student Resource Center – College Edition -- see Indexes section

Statistical Sources

A collection of various facts and statistical information.  Almanacs that are helpful for finding factual information in history include:

Statistical Abstract of the United States -- [REFERENCE DESK HA 202 .A1 ; older years in DOCUMENTS]

Collected statistics from United States federal agencies covering a wide variety of subjects.  Published annually.

World Almanac -- [REFERENCE DESK AY 67 .N5 W7; older years in REFERENCE]

Collection of statistics and facts with international coverage.  Published annually.

Historical Statistics of the United States, 1789-1945

[REFERENCE HA 202 .A385]

Compilation of statistics gathered by federal government agencies organized by subject area.

Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970.

[REFERENCE HA 202 A385 1976]

Compilation of statistics gathered from government sources organized by subject area.  A good source for locating unusual statistics.

Historical Statistics of the United States, Earliest Times to the Present

[REFERENCE HA 202 H57 2006]

            Five volume compilation of statistics gather from government agencies and organized by subject area. An expanded source for unusual statistics.

Historical Statistics of the States of the United States: Two Centuries of the Census, 1790-1990.

[REFERENCE HA 214 .D63 1993]

Compilation of data from the population, manufacturing and agricultural census organized by state.  Useful for compiling an overview of the changes in a state, some 1990 information is incomplete.

United States Historical Census Data Browser, 1790-1960


Site offers census data from 1790 to 1960.  User can create personalized reports by selecting variables and states.  Does not include complete content from later census.

Reference Sources

Indexes & Abstracts

Indexes allow you to locate published material on specific topics.  Indexes primarily cover periodical articles, however some include books and other material as well.

Many indexes are now available in electronic format, for the complete list of indexes available go to the library home page at and click on Find Journal Articles and More. Enter your my Lamar username and password and select one of the options listed.

Indexes with REFERENCE preceding the call number are located on the First Floor in the Reference collection. 

Electronic access is restricted to Lamar students, faculty, and staff.

Academic Search Complete (EbscoHost) [Electronic (1965 - present)]

            Multidisciplinary database indexing over 4,000 scholarly publications; including full text of over 3,100 peer reviewed journals. Some full text.

America:  History and Life (EbscoHost) [Electronic (1964 - present)]

            Indexes articles on the history and culture of the United States and Canada, prehistory to the present. Provides secondary sources including: scholarly articles, dissertations, book reviews. Some full text via JSTOR.

Arts and Humanities Search (First Search) [Electronic (1980- present)]

            Indexes over 1,300 sources, including scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences.  Not full text.

Bibliography of Native North Americans (EbscoHost) [16th century to current)]

Bibliography of Native North Americans (BNNA) is a bibliographic database covering all aspects of native North American culture, history, and life. This resource covers a wide range of topics including archaeology, multicultural relations, gaming, governance, legend, and literacy. BNNA contains more than 80,000 citations for books, essays, journal articles, and government documents of the United States and Canada. Dates of coverage for included content range from the sixteenth century to the present

Book Review Digest [Paper REFERENCE Z 1219 .C95 (1905-present )]

            Indexes book reviews of English language fiction and non-fiction (excludes textbooks, government documents and technical books in law and the sciences).  Includes citations and excerpts of reviews written within the first 18 months of a book's publication.

Dissertation Abstracts(FirstSearch) [Electronic (1861- present)]

            Selective index of dissertations and theses from academic institutions in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Europe.  Some dissertation abstracts (1980- present) and thesis abstracts (1988- present) available.  Not full text.

Early Encounters in North America (1534-1850)

            Includes prints, drawings, paintings, maps, bibliographies, letters, photographs, and original facsimile pages.

Essay and General Literature Index (WilsonWeb) [Electronic (1985 – present)]

            Contains essays from book anthologies and collections on a variety of subjects including history.

Heritage Quest (ProQuest) [Electronic (varies)

            Search, census records, books containing family histories, genealogy and local history articles, Revolutionary War era Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, and the Freedman’s Bank.

Historical Abstracts (EbscoHost) [1955-present] Some full text.

            Indexes articles on world history (excluding U.S. and Canada) between 1450 and the present.  Provides secondary, scholarly articles, dissertations, book reviews. This authoritative database provides selective indexing of historical articles from more than 1,800 journals in over 40 languages back to 1955. In addition, this database provides access to the full text of more than 300 journals and more than 150 books.

Humanities Index [Paper REFERENCE AI 3 .R491 (1974-1999)]

            Provides author and subject index to leading scholarly journals in the humanities, including the most widely read scholarly journals in history.  Includes book reviews.

Humanities International Index (EbscoHost) [Electronic 1925 – present]

            Humanities International Index is a comprehensive database covering journals, books and other important reference sources in the humanities. Produced by Whitston Publishing (an imprint of EBSCO Publishing), Humanities International Index provides cover-to-cover indexing and abstracting for over 2,000 titles and contains more than 2 million records

JSTOR Scholarly Journal Archive [Electronic (varies)]

            Provides full text access to scholarly journals including American Historical Review, Journal of American History, and the William and Mary Quarterly. The archive offers keyword searching in the full-text of articles and author and title searches. Coverage varies by journal title.

National Newspaper Abstracts (Proquest) [(1984 – present) coverage varies by title]

Limited number of national newspapers including New York Times; Abstracts and indexing only.

Newspaper Abstracts (First Search) [1989 – present]

Includes news articles, reviews, editorials, commentaries, editorial cartoons, and other items from 50 national and regional newspapers throughout the United States.

Newspaper Source (EbscoHost) [1994 – present]

Provides selected full text for 25 national (U.S.) and international newspapers. The database also contains full text television & radio news transcripts, and selected full text for more than 260 regional (U.S.) newspapers. This database is updated daily.

North American Women’s Letters and Diaries (Colonial – 1950) - Inc

            Contains diaries, correspondence and manuscripts.

Religion and Philosophy Collection (EbscoHost) [date varies]

            The Religion & Philosophy Collection is a comprehensive database covering such topics as world religions, major denominations, biblical studies, religious history, epistemology, political philosophy, philosophy of language, moral philosophy and the history of philosophy. This database offers more than 300 full text journals, including more than 250 peer-reviewed titles, making it an essential tool for researchers and students of theology and philosophical studies. In addition to the full text, indexing and abstracts are provided for all journals in the database.

 Research Library (Proquest) [Electronic (1971 - present)]

            Contains articles from over 3,000 periodicals, including journals, covering variety of subjects including humanities and social sciences.  Includes some full text and abstracts.

 Poole's Index to Periodical Literature [Paper REFERENCE AI 3 .P7 (1802-1906)]

            Provides subject index only.  A good source for articles written during the Nineteenth Century about American history.

 Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature [Paper REFERENCE AI 3 .R 48 (1900-present)]

            Provides author and subject indexes to popular general interest magazines.  Of particular interest to historians are news magazines that report historical events shortly after they occur and often contain excellent photographs.

Social Sciences and Humanities Index [Paper REFERENCE AI 3 .R49 (1965-1974)]

            International interdisciplinary index to the social sciences and humanities, provides subject and author access to article citations.

Social Sciences Index [Paper REFERENCE AI 3 .R492 (1974-1998)]

            Provides author and subject index to leading scholarly journals in social sciences fields often of interest to historians, including political science, public administration, law, sociology, and anthropology.  Includes book reviews.

Student Resource Center – College Edition [Electronic (varies)]

            Contains essays from reference books, speeches, primary source materials, images, and articles from journals, magazines and newspapers on a wide variety of topics. A good source for locating background information on a historical topic. Full Text.

 Bibliographies & Catalogs

 Books on historical subjects vary in their treatment of a subject, while offering a comprehensive overview of a topic.  They provide background and context in which a historical event took place.  They are often a good source for related sources, pictures and photos.  Use the library catalog to locate books.  Use the Library of Congress Classification to browse the library stacks to locate sources.  Ask a librarian how to do this. 

History (General)      D

History of Europe     D

History: America       E

History: America       F

Bibliographies are a list of resources on a specific topic and often cover a far greater time span than do indexes and therefore contain more items on a subject.  Often they are selective, choosing materials based on a certain criteria.  To see if the library has a bibliography on a subject go to the library catalog and do a keyword search across everything on your subject for example:  civil war and bibliography.

Theses and dissertations are original research done by Masters and Doctoral candidates on a wide variety of subjects and are often good bibliography sources.  Locating copies of thesis and dissertations can be difficult. Databases indexing these titles include:

  • America History and Life -- see Indexes section
  • WorldCat (FirstSearch)--see Indexes section
  • Dissertations Abstracts (FirstSearch)--see Indexes section

For Lamar University graduate thesis and dissertations go to the library catalog and do a keyword search across everything on the student's last name (if known) and thesis.