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*History: Start Your Research

Why Use Encyclopedias?

Background sources like encyclopedias can provide context for your topic, or even help you choose one. They are great places to start because:

  • they explain topics in simpler language than scholarly articles
  • they are much shorter (often just a just a page or two, instead of the 20 pages or more found in a scholarly article or the hundreds of pages found in a book)
  • they highlight important issues, figures, dates, and/or events that you may want to focus on in your paper or project
  • they give you suggested sources for further research in the form of bibliographies or works cited

Online Encyclopedias

The following are just a few of many online encyclopedias available in your field. You can read them online 24/7.

Print Encyclopedias

Hutchins Library also has a large collection of print enyclopedias that you can access in person in the Reference area on the main floor. Here are a few of our favorites: