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Finding scholarly literature on a topic in history

Finding historiographic essays -- first steps

For topics that are of wide interest, you may be able to find an essay that reviews the literature on that topic, and that sets it in context by discussing how other historians have approached that topic. This kind of essay is invaluable when you are starting a research project. There are two easy ways to find them:

History Compass is an online journal that publishes historiographic essays. If there is an essay on your topic, it can be an excellent place to start. Caution: if you do not find what you need with your first search, don't choose Edit Search, because you will then be searching all the publisher's online journals. Return to the starting point for History Compass to continue searching just within this journal.

If your topic is covered, check Oxford Bibliographies Online (currently, covers African Studies, Atlantic History, Medieval Studies, Military History, Classics, Criminology, Islamic Studies, Philosophy, and Renaissance and the Reformation, and many other fields)

America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts
In both of these bibliographic databases, "historiography" is a Subject. For example, in AHL, to find historiography on the American Civil war, do a Subject search for:
civil war historiography

Annual bulletin of historical literature
History Reference (SH). Firestone Z6205 .H65 and online

The "Blackwell Companions" are a series published both in print and online in Blackwell Reference Online. If there is one on your topic, it can be an exceptionally useful place to start reading.
Note: to find print copies of the Blackwell Companions, do a keyword search in the Main Catalog for " Blackwell companions to history," "Blackwell companions to American history," " Blackwell companions to British history," " Blackwell companions to world history," or " Blackwell companions to European history " to see if there is a volume in this series that covers your topic. Some copies circulate, and others are in the History Reference room on A floor.


US History British History

A Companion to American Indian History
A Companion to Colonial America
A Companion to the American Revolution
A Companion to the Civil War and Reconstruction
A Companion to 19th-Century America
A Companion to 20th-Century America
A Companion to Post-1945 America
A Companion to the Vietnam War
A Companion to the American South
A Companion to the American West
A Companion to American Cultural History
A Companion to American Women's History
A Companion to American Technology
A Companion to American Immigration
A Companion to American Environmental History
A Companion to American Military History
A Companion to California History
A companion to American legal history History Reference (SH). Firestone KF352 .C66 2013
There is also a series of guides to American presidents. Published thus far: Washington, Madison and Monroe, Jefferson, the era of Andrew Jackson, the Reconstruction presidents, Wilson, Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Nixon, Adams, and both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt.

A Companion to Britain in the Later Middle Ages
A Companion to Tudor Britain
A Companion to Stuart Britain
A Companion to Eighteenth-Century Britain
A Companion to Nineteenth-Century Britain
A Companion to Early Twentieth-Century Britain
A Companion to Contemporary Britain 1939–2000
European History
A Companion to the Early Middle Ages
A Companion to the Medieval World
A Companion to the Reformation World
A Companion to Eighteenth-Century Europe
A Companion to Nineteenth-Century Europe
A Companion to World War I
A Companion to Europe 1900-1945
A Companion to Europe since 1945
A Companion to Western Historical Thought
A Companion to the History of the Book
World History

A Companion to the Global Renaissance
A Companion to the History of the Middle East
A Companion to Japanese History
A Companion to Postcolonial Studies
A Companion to Latin American History
A Companion to International History 1900 – 2001
A Companion to Russian History
A Companion to Gender History
Companion to Mexican history and culture 
A Companion to Global Environmental History
A Companion to World History