Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Most books in the Reference Collection are tertiary works that give readers a broad topical overview. If you are new to researching and writing about history and need more background, these are a good place to start.
Image from the College and Lutheran Church Archives, Digital Collections, College Photographs
Recommended Reference Works
American Decades - Ref E 169.12 .A419 1994 (10 vols.)
Presents social and cultural history in ten-year periods, covering the arts, business, fashion, law, medicine, religion, and more.
Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century - Ref E 169.1 .E626 2001 (3 vols.)
Covers major ideas and issues in American social, political, and military history with articles as specific as "The Chinese Exclusion Act" and as broad as "Domestic Life."
Encyclopedia of the United States in the Twentieth Century - Ref E740.7 .E53 1996 (4 vols.)
An ambitious survey of American cultural, social and intellectual history in broad articles arranged topically. Each essay/article is followed by a thorough and very useful bibliography for further research.
Encyclopedia of American Studies - Ref E 169.1 .E625 2001 (4 vols.)
Published under the auspices of the American Studies Association, this est covers concepts key to the interdisciplinary field, issues related to class, race and ethnicity, cultural institutions, popular culture, social history and more.
Encyclopedia of American Social Movements - Ref HN 57 .E594 2004
Organized by topic rather than alphabetically, this set covers the antislavery movement, civil rights, the women's movement, labor, Native American, religious and Utopian, antiwar and student movements, LGBT, environmental, and global justice movements, each with in-depth chronological coverage and analysis.
Encyclopedia of American Social History - Ref HN 57 .E58 1993 (3 vols.)
Filling in the holes left in conventional political/biographical history sources, this set covers topics such as religion, class, gender, race, popular culture, regionalism, and everyday life from pre-Columbian to modern times in lengthy and well-documented articles.
Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History: the Black Experience in the Americas - Ref E 185 .E54 2006
A wide-ranging encyclopedia covering people, places, events, concepts, and topics of all sorts. Articles are written by specialists and have useful bibliographies.
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture - Ref E 169.1 .S764 2000 (5 vols.)
A compendium of short articles on figures and ideas that were a common part of the American experience in the twentieth century.
Women's Movement Today: An Encyclopedia of Third-Wave Feminism Call Number: Ref HQ 1115 .W644 2006
This two-volume series provides an excellent introduction to Third Wave Feminism, including definitions of terms, biographical sketches, recommendations for further reading. Volume 2 contains a wide selection of primary documents.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License