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American Studies Resources

Getting Started with Reference Resources

Background information and reference resources

Background information can help you prepare for further research by explaining concepts related to your topic, especially if you are researching an unfamiliar topic or discipline. Entries in reference resources tend to be short and can help you get started with research on a new topic, identify trends in a subject area, and define unfamiliar terms or people from your readings. Reference resources include encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases and handbooks. 

General Reference Databases

Subject-Specific Online Reference Resources

Reference Books

Culture and History

American Decades
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E169.12 .A42 (1900-1999)

American Eras
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E169.1 .A471979 1997 vol. 1-8

American National Biography
CALL NUMBER: Ref. CT213 .A68 1999

Americans at War
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E181 .A453 2005 vol. 1-4

Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th Century America
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E169.1 .B7825 2012 vol. 1-6

Dictionary of American History
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E174 .D52 2003 vol. 1-10

Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E468 .E53 2000 vol. 1-5

Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E169.1 .E624 2001 vol. 1-3

The Greenwood Guide to American Popular Culture
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E169.1 .G7555 2002 vol. 1-4

Historic Documents
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E839.5 .H57 Index 2005

Historical Dictionary of American Propaganda
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E183.7 .M325 2004

The Scribner's Encyclopedia of American Lives
CALL NUMBER: Ref. CT213 .S37 1998 vol. 1-8

The Scribner's Encyclopedia of American Lives. The 1960s
CALL NUMBER: Ref. CT213 .S374 2003 vol. 1-2

Slavery in America: From Colonial Times to the Civil War: An Eyewitness History
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E441 .S36 2000

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E169.1 .S764 2000 vol. 1-5


African American Writers
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PS153.N5 A344 2001 vol. 1-2

American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PS147 .A4 vol. 1-5

Asian American Literature: Reviews and Criticism of Works by American Writers of Asian Descent
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PS153.A84 A82 1999

Companion to Southern Literature
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PS261 .C55 2002

Dictionary of American Regional English
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PE2843 .D52 1985 vol. 1-6

Encyclopedia of American Indian Literature
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PS153 .I52 E53 2007

Encyclopedia of American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PS316 .E53 1998

Garner's Modern American Usage
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PE2827 .G37 2009

Hispanic Literature of the United States: A Comprehensive Reference
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PS153.H56 K36 2003

Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature
CALL NUMBER: Ref. PS21 .E537 2004 vol. 1-4

Oxford Companion to the American Musical: Theatre, Film, and Television
CALL NUMBER: Ref. ML102 .M88 H593 2008

Reference Books

Politics and Law

The Almanac of American Politics
CALL NUMBER: Ref. JK1012 .A44

The Almanac of Women and Minorities in American Politics 2002
CALL NUMBER: Ref. HQ1236.5 .U6 M3779 2001

Elections in the Americas: A Data Handbook
CALL NUMBER: Ref. JF1001 .E363 2005 vol. 1-2

Encyclopedia of the American Constitution
CALL NUMBER: Ref. KF4548 .E53 2000 vol. 1-6

Encyclopedia of American Political Parties and Elections
CALL NUMBER: Ref. JK2261 .S218 2006

Encyclopedia of the U.S. Census: From the Constitution to the American Community Survey
CALL NUMBER: Ref. HA37 .U55 E53 2012

Great American Trials
CALL NUMBER: Ref. KF220 .G74 2002 vol. 1-2

Politics in America: Members of Congress in Washington and at Home
CALL NUMBER: Ref. JK1012 .P64

Race and Gender

American Immigrant Cultures
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E184.A1 A63448 1997 vol. 1-2

Contemporary Black Biography
CALL NUMBER: Ref. DT18 .C66 vol. 1-27

The Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E185 .E54 2006 vol. 1-6

Encyclopedia of Women in American History
CALL NUMBER: Ref. HQ1410 .E53 2002 vol. 1-3

Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E184.A1 G14 2000 vol. 1-3

Girlhood in America
CALL NUMBER: Ref. HQ777 .G5745 2001 vol. 1-2

Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia
CALL NUMBER: Ref. DS115.2 .J49 1997 vol. 1-2

Men and Masculinity
CALL NUMBER: Ref. HQ1090.3 .M436 2004 vol. 1-2

Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary Completing the Twentieth Century
CALL NUMBER: Ref. CT3260 .N5725 2004

Notable Black American Men
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E185.86 .N68 1999

Notable Black American Women
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E185.96 .N68 2003

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E184.S75 O97 2005 vol. 1-4

Racial and Ethnic Relations in America
CALL NUMBER: Ref. E49 .R33 2000 vol. 1-3