If you are working on a topic that is of interest to many other historians, you may find that someone has already compiled a bibliography for you. To find book-length bibliographies on a topic in library catalogs, use the advanced search to look for "bibliography" as a subject and your topic as a keyword. In Princeton's catalog, use the Advanced Search in the newer interface to the catalog, or the Guided Search option in the Main Catalog interface.
For shorter bibliographies and for topics for which you can't find a book-length bibliography, consult a reference book. First, here are three guides with essays that describe the major work by historians on a topic. All are particularly useful to the student trying to decide what to read first:
If your topic is covered, Oxford Bibliographies Online is a great starting point.
If your topic is the history of American foreign relations, the best starting point is:
If your topic is a (famous dead) American or British person, the best starting point is:
Finally, you may find it helpful to consult:
This is a list of recommended reading, arranged geographically and chronologically. Caution: the AHA Guide was compiled in 1995, so you will need to supplement it by searching the Main Catalog for more recent items.