Finding Background Information guide

Finding Background Information guide

Finding Background Information When you begin research for a paper or project, you will usually need background information first. This is especially ...

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Finding Background Information When you begin research for a paper or project, you will usually need background information first. This is especially important if you are not very familiar with the subject you are researching or have not decided which aspect of it you want to emphasize. By consulting the types of sources described in this guide, you can find a brief overview of the topic; definitions of terms and jargon in the field; key names, events, and terms related to the topic that may be used later to find information in the online catalog, periodical databases, or other sources; an introductory, select bibliography (i.e., list of suggested sources by scholars or experts in the field).

Reference Sources” page on our website. To find other specialized encyclopedias, you can 1. Ask a reference librarian for suggestions. 2. Search the Credo Reference or Sage Reference Online encyclopedia collections or other electronic encyclopedias available on our “Find Reference Sources” webpage at y/ 3. Scan the shelves around one of the listed encyclopedias that you thought would be helpful, but was not. Or, find out what call numbers correspond to your subject and browse in that area of the reference collection. 4. Look in the online catalog under your subject or a broader subject followed by the subdivision "Encyclopedias," for example, "Bioethics— Encyclopedias."

WHERE TO BEGIN Because they contain information on almost every subject, encyclopedias are often the best place to begin research when you don’t know much about your topic. Encyclopedias are excellent for providing the background information previously mentioned.

TWO TYPES OF ENCYCLOPEDIAS While general encyclopedias, such as Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Americana, and even Wikipedia, are sometimes logical places to begin research, specialized encyclopedias covering your subject area are usually much more useful and reliable. A subject-specialized encyclopedia may cover your topic in more depth than a general encyclopedia and has been written by authorities on the specific subject.

CHOOSING AN ENCYCLOPEDIA Determine whether your subject deals with the humanities, the social sciences, or the sciences. Often a subject may fit into more than one of these areas. Abortion, for example, fits into at least three areas—religion, political science, and biology. Ask a librarian if you are not sure how to categorize your subject. When you have decided which areas to look under, turn to the humanities, social sciences, and sciences sections of this guide for suggested specialized encyclopedias or consult the “Find

USING AN ENCYCLOPEDIA For efficient and effective use of encyclopedias, keep in mind the following suggestions: 1. Use the index to the encyclopedia. This may be a separate volume, or it may be at the beginning or end of the encyclopedia. The index will lead you to all the references to your subject. Many times your topic will be included in the encyclopedia as a subdivision of another broader topic, and therefore will not be in its own alphabetical order. For example, "Mafia" may be a subdivision of "Organized Crime." 2. Try several terms for your topic because the term you are using may not be the same one used in the encyclopedia. For example, information about "endangered species" may be under "extinction." 3. Look for bibliographies listing other sources on your topic. Often bibliographies are appended to the end of an encyclopedia article. Other times, references to other sources are included within an encyclopedia article or at the end of an encyclopedia. 4. Follow the cross-reference that will lead you from the article you are reading to other related articles in the same encyclopedia. Related articles may suggest other ideas for defining or focusing your topic.


Finding Background Information

BACKGROUND SOURCES AT GREENVILLE COLLEGE LIBRARY Listed on the following pages are examples of print subject-specialized encyclopedias arranged by subjects within the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Their call numbers and brief descriptions are provided. Because the Library has so many (500+) electronic subject-specialized encyclopedias available for research, it isn’t possible to include those in this guide.

R. 704. 948 M96

The Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture. 1996.

R. 709 G17

Gardner’s Art Through the Ages. 11th ed. 2001.

Provides brief descriptions of art and architecture that have been influenced by the Bible and Christianity.

Traces the history of art throughout the world from the Stone Age to the present.

HUMANITIES R. Arts & Humanities through the Eras. 2005. 700.9 5 vols. Ar795 Each volume focuses on the same topics for a different period of history: 1) Ancient Egypt, 2) Ancient Greece and Rome, 3) Medieval Europe, 4) Renaissance Europe, 5) Age of Baroque and Enlightenment. An index concludes each volume. ART R. 700 D56

R 700 R27

Comprehensive and detailed coverage of almost all types of visual arts from architecture and the decorative arts to painting and sculpture. Essays tend to be longer with bibliographies. The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300-1990s. 1993. 2 vols.

Encyclopedia of World Art. 1959-68. 15 vols. Contains long articles on painting, sculpture, architecture, and artists of all periods and countries. Bibliographies are appended to each article. Illustrations (some colored) are included in the last half of each volume.

R. 704. 948 B81

The Lion Companion to Christian Art. 2008. Surveys Christian art throughout history. Includes color photographs.

A Biographical Dictionary of Artists. Rev. ed. 1995. (also available online at Describes the life, work, and artistic development of over 1,300 artists from throughout the world.

R. 709.2 C76

Contemporary Artists. 5th ed. 2002. 2 vols.

R 770.3 F68

The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography. 3rd ed. 1993.

The Dictionary of Art. 1998. 34 vols.

Lists art works from the early Renaissance to present day that utilize subjects from Greek and Roman mythology. R 703 En19

R. 709.2 B52

Profiles over 800 twentieth-century artists, most of whom have done their best work after 1960.

Includes definitions of all aspects of photography from the technical to the historical.

COMMUNICATION R. Encyclopedia of Communication and Informa302.2 tion. 2002. 3 vols. En194 Provides articles on communication and information from an interdisciplinary perspective. R. 302.2 In85

The International Encyclopedia of Communication. 2008. 12 vols. Attempts to explain the breadth of research that defines the study and field of communication with over 1,300 articles written by a variety of scholars from across the discipline and around the world. Vol. 12 is an index.

Finding Background Information

R. Social Networking Communities and E-Dating 302.23 Services: Concepts and Implications. 2009. So13 Provides lengthy academic essays on topics related to both social networking and online dating.

DRAMA/THEATER R Oxford Companion to the Theater. 4th ed. 792.03 1983. H25a Emphasizes staged drama rather than literary drama. Includes brief articles on actors, producers, theater buildings, the history of theater in various countries, and terminology. R. 792. 0973 B64

Ref 792. 0973 C14

R 809.2 M17

R. The Film Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. 1994. 791.43 K15 Presents short entries on people, studios, organizations, events, styles, genres, and terminology associated with films in English. R. 791. 436 M45

Begins with introductory essays on the film noir genre followed by alphabetic entries on actors, directors, and films.

R. 801 En19

Encyclopedia of Contemporary Literary Theory. 1993. Provides introductory articles on literary theory organized into three alphabetical sections: Approaches, Scholars, and Terms.

Cambridge Guide to American Theatre. 1993.

R. Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th 803 Century. 3rd ed. 1999. 4 vols. En198 Includes articles on 20th century literary movements, writers, and nationalities of literature.

Covers American theatre from its earliest history to the present including marginalized as well as mainstream topics.

R 809 B56

Black Literature Criticism. 1992. 3 vols.

R. 809 J62

The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism. 1994.

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama. 1984. 5 vols. Provides biographical information as well as synopses and critical evaluation of the major works of individual dramatists from antiquity to the twentieth century. Entries on terms, movements, and styles are also included. Articles include bibliographies of editions of plays and critical works. A glossary of terms, play title list, and index complete volume 5.

R. 809.8 Ox25

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature. 2006. 4 vols. Covers children’s authors, characters, genres, and works as well as children’s literature in a variety of countries. Volume 4 includes a select bibliography, a list of awards, and an index.

The Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film and Television. 2nd ed. 2008. Includes an introductory essay on the history of film and television superheroes, and then presents a detailed alphabetic list of those superheroes.

Surveys the criticism of the works of major black writers throughout the world for the last 200 years.

Includes essays on the key people, movements, and schools of thought associated with literary theory and criticism.

FILM R. 791.4 M89

Encyclopedia of Film Noir. 2007.


American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, 1869-1914. 1994. Chronicles American non-musical theatre by opening date beginning just after the Civil War. Three additional volumes cover the periods 1914-1930, 1930-1969, 1969-2000.


R. 810.3 Ox25

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature. 2004. 4 vols. Provides essays describing the topics and writers who have shaped American literature from its beginnings to the present day.


Finding Background Information

R American Writers: A Collection of Literary 810.9 Biographies. 1974- . 4 vols. in original set Am35 with ongoing supplementary volumes.

R 820.9 B77

Contains information about the lives, careers, and writings of British writers.

Contains information about the lives, careers, and writings of American writers. Ref. 810.9 C72

Columbia Literary History of the United States. Divided into five broad time periods, essays describe the literary figures, movements, and criticism that shaped the literature of the United States from prehistoric time through the 1980's.

R 810.9 L71a

R. 810.9 M72

Modern American Literature. 5th ed. 1999. 3 vols. Brings together excerpts from a variety of critical evaluations of the writings of 20th century American authors.

R. African American Writers. 2nd ed. 2001. 810. 2 vols. 9896 Af834 Covers African-American writers such as Baldwin, Brooks, Du Bois, Hurston, and Wright. A chronology of major historical and literary events is included at the front. R. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic 810.992 American Literature. 2005. 5 vols. G85 Introduces the reader to American ethnic authors, texts, topics, and traditions ranging from African American to Turkish to Vietnamese American. R. 820.3 Ox25

R. 860. 0998 En19

Encyclopedia of Latin American Literature. 1997.

R 860.9 L34

Latin American Writers. 1989. 3 vols.

R. 860. 998 L71

Literary Cultures of Latin America: A Comparative History. 2004. 3 vols.

R 880 An22

Ancient Writers: Greece and Rome. 1982. 2 vols.

Literary History of the United States. 1974. 2 vols. Volume one contains essays surveying the history of American literature from colonial times up to the 1970s . A bibliography is included at the end of this volume. Volume two consists of bibliographic essays divided into four main sections: “Guide to Resources, “Literature and Culture,” “Movements and influences,” and “Individual authors.”

The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. 2006. 5 vols. Provides articles on authors, themes, movements, genres, and institutions covering the history of British literature.

British Writers. 1979- . 8 vols. in original set with ongoing supplementary volumes.

Includes essays relating to Latin-American authors, works, and literary subjects.

Presents articles chronologically on the life, work, and literary contributions of 176 LatinAmerican writers. Use the index at the end of volume three to locate a specific author.

Includes in-depth, scholarly essays arranged into three volumes topically: Vol. 1— “Configurations of Literary Culture,” Vol. 2— Institutional Modes and Cultural Modalities,” Vol. 3—Latin American Literary Culture: Subject to History.”

Longer articles covering major ancient writers and literary subjects. Each entry ends with a bibliography. Arranged chronologically with an index at the end of volume 2. Oxford Companions to Literature. These companions provide brief articles on authors, critics, literary works, characters, societies, terms, movements, and historical events. Check older editions if newest edition does not provide the information you need. Examples are the Oxford Companion to American Literature (R 810.3 H25b), to English Literature (R 820.3 H26c), to Canadian History and Literature (R 810.3 St76), to Children's Literature (R 809.8 C22), to French Literature (R 840.3 H26), to German Literature (R 830.3 G18), to the Literature of Wales (R 891.6 Ox2), to Women’s Writing in the United States (R. 810.99 Ox2), and to African American Literature (R. 810.9 Ox2).

Finding Background Information

The Penguin Companions to World Literature. 1969-1971. 4 vols. Provide information on authors and their main works. The four volumes are The Penguin Companion to American Literature (R 810.9 P37), to Classical, Oriental, and African Literature (R 809 P37), to English Literature (R 820.9 P37), and to European Literature (R 809.894 P37).

MUSIC R. 780.3 K38

The Oxford Dictionary of Music. 2nd ed. 1994. Contains short entries on composers, performers, orchestras, individual works, musical forms and terms, instruments, institutions, writers, and scholars.

R 780.3 N42a

New Grove Dictionary of Music and nd Musicians. 2 ed. 2001. 29 vols. Major source for concise definitions as well as encyclopedic articles on music history, theory, practice, terms, musicians, and works from earliest times to the present. Extensive bibliographies and/or cross-references follow most entries. Complete lists of works for some figures are also presented.

R. 780.9 T17

The Oxford History of Western Music. 2004. 6 vols. Scholarly survey of the history of Western music from its beginnings through the end of the millennium. Each volume examines a different period of history: 1) Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century, 2) Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, 3) Nineteenth Century, 4) Early Twentieth Century, 5) Late Twentieth Century. Volume 6 contains a chronology, a bibliography, and a master index to the whole set.

R. The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 781.64 1995. 6 vols. G94 Very extensive collection of entries describing pop music performers, producers, styles, songs, shows, etc. In addition to an index, vol. 6 contains a bibliography of works about particular artists and a bibliography by subject.

R 781.7 N42


The New Grove Dictionary of American Music. 1986. 4 vols. Provides extensive coverage of the various musical genres from every historical period along with an in-depth treatment of specific composers, performers, instruments, publishers, and dance.

R. 782. 103 N42

The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. 1992. 4 vols. Contains a comprehensive collection of entries on all aspects of opera.

R. The New Kobbé’s Opera Book. 11th ed. 1997. 782.13 N42 Provides act-by-act descriptions of nearly 500 operas. Arranged chronologically by composer.


Blackwell Companions to Philosophy series. 1991-2010. multiple volumes. Presents in-depth articles on philosophers, historical time periods, and types of philosophy in topical volumes.

R 103 En19

Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 1967. 8 vols. & Supplement (1996). Contains articles on philosophical terms and schools as well as individual philosophers. Bibliographies are appended to all articles. Supplement updates topics covered in the original volumes as well as introduces more recent scholarship.

R. 103 Ox2

The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. 1995.

R. 103 R76

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 1998. 10 vols.

Includes extended entries on the principal areas of philosophy and the great philosophers in addition to short entries on key concepts, theories, philosophers, and other subjects related to philosophy.

Provides scholarly essays on philosophers, philosophical theories, and other subjects as they relate to philosophy.


Finding Background Information

Ref. 170.3 En19

Encyclopedia of Ethics. 1992. 2 vols. (2001, 2nd ed. available online at http://ezproxy. http://www.credo Includes articles on a wide variety of ethical topics from perennial moral problems to ethical theory.

R. 170.9 G28

Historical Dictionary of Ethics. 2008.

R. 179.1 En19

Handbook of Research on Technoethics. 2009. 2 vols. Examines the field of technoethics as well as a variety of ethical issues related to technology such as cyber identify theft and software piracy in lengthy, academic essays. Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy. 2009. 2 vols. Examines a broad range of environmental issues, events, and people from philosophical and ethical perspectives.

R 190 H19

R. 210 R76

The Handbook of Western Philosophy. 1988. Provides a survey of the concepts, theories, themes, and controversies related to Western philosophy. The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion. 2007. Introduces the issues, arguments, people, concepts, and other topics associated with the philosophy of religion.

R. 501 R76

RELIGION R. 200 En17

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. 2008.

Encyclopedia of African American Religions. 1993. Covers African America religious leaders, groups, and issues related to the development of African American religious life.

Offers a chronology of the history of ethics followed by a “dictionary” of short entries defining topics and people related to ethics.

R Encyclopedia of Bioethics. 1995. 5 vols. 174.2 En19a Contains articles on ethical and social issues in the life sciences and medicine. Includes lengthy articles and bibliographies on such topics as abortion, racism, environmental ethics, privacy, violence, biomedical science and war, rationing of medical treatment, gene therapy, faith healing, and malpractice. R. 174. 96 H19

Includes scholarly articles on topics in five broad subject areas related to the philosophy of science.

R 200 En18

Encyclopedia of Religion. 1987. 16 vols.

R. 200 H23

The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion. 1995.

Comprehensive and ecumenical reference work covering all aspects of religion from ancient and living religions, to religious beliefs, practices, symbols, and themes. Provides bibliographical and/or crossreferences with most essays.

Covers a miscellany of religious topics from Hindu rites for women to relationships between architecture and religion. R. Encyclopedia of Women and World Religion. 200.82 1999. 2 vols. En19 Includes articles tracing women’s history and experience with world religions from the beginning of time through the twentieth century. R. Contemporary American Religion. 2000. 2 200.973 vols. C76 Examines popular religious culture at the end of the twentieth century. R 220.3 An21

The Anchor Bible Dictionary. 1992. 6 vols.

R. 220.3 N422

The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. 2006-2009. 5 vols.

Identifies and explains all proper names and significant terms and subjects in the Bible, including the Apocrypha. Entries are written by scholars and include bibliographies.

Covers topics, places, and people in the Bible as well as theological concepts.

Finding Background Information

R 220.7 N418

The New Interpreter's Bible. 1994-2004. 13 vols. Presents the full texts and critical notes for both the New Revised Standard Version and New International Version of the Bible as well as general and passage-specific commentary.

R. The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology. 230 2007. Ox24o Examines this field of Christian doctrine through lengthy essays written by scholars in the field. R 270.1 En19

Encyclopedia of the Early Church. 1992. 2 vols. Contains short articles on topics of the early Church ranging from archaeology to philosophy and linguistics to geography. The lists of abbreviations at the front aid in interpretation of the entries.

R. 270.6 Ox2

Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation. 1996. 4 vols.

Includes longer articles on various aspects of Judaism. A general index and an index to Biblical texts conclude the third volume. R. 297 M97

R 291 En19

Encyclopedia of American Religions. 1993. Provides descriptions of over 1,700 religious groups and essays on the development of religion in the United States and Canada.

R. Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World. 297.03 2004. 2 vols. En19 Provides over 500 articles related to the Islamic world and its history.


R 296 En19

The Social Science Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. 1996. Contains articles on the central disciplines of the social sciences as well as theories, historical figures, methods, and schools of thought.

R 300.3 In8 5

International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2nd ed. 2008. 9 vols. Provides background information on topics in anthropology, economics, history, law, political science, psychology, sociology, statistics, and related fields.

Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience. 1988. 3 vols. Examines various traditions, movements, and influences related to North American religious practice. Essays are grouped into chapters by subject.

The Muslim Almanac: A Reference Work on the History, Faith, Culture, & Peoples of Islam. 1996. Describes Islamic history, faith, culture, and peoples in topically-arranged articles. A useful glossary of terms is included near the back of the volume.

Covers a wide array of events, people, and ideas of the sixteenth century. Not confined to the “Protestant Reformation.” A “Synoptic Outline of Contents” is included in volume 4. Ref. 280 M49


BUSINESS R. Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: The Bestselling 395.52 Guide to Doing Business in More Than 60 M83 Countries. 2nd ed. 2006.

Encyclopaedia Judaica. 1971-1972. 16 vols. Covers all aspects of Jewish life and thought. Supplementary information included at the end of volume 16. Bibliography provided with each entry. Charts, diagrams, chronologies, tables, and index are in volume one.

R. The Encyclopedia of Judaism. 1999. 3 vols. 296 En196

Provides overviews of recommended business etiquette across cultures. R. 650 En19

Encyclopedia of Business. 1995. 2 vols. Provides explanations of the global concepts, issues, and terms associated with both current and classical business.


Finding Background Information

about A.D. 500 to 1500. Covers Western Europe, the Scandinavian north, the Byzantine and Slavic east, the Muslim south, and the world of Judaism.


R. 658 En19

Encyclopedia of Economics. 1982. Good source of information on such topics as advertising, consumer theory, inflation, monetary policy, social security programs, and the world bank. Name and subject indexes provided.

R. 932 Ox25

Presents the “prehistoric, predynastic, and dynastic phases” of the Egyptian civilization around the Nile Valley .

Encyclopedia of Management. 5th ed. 2006. Offers scholarly introductions to management terms and topics.

Ref Handbook for Professional Managers. 1985. 658.03 En19a Entries cover management functions, business activities, and environmental resources and constraints. Excellent bibliographies and index provided. See also Encyclopedia of Professional Management (R 658.03 En19).

R. 936 An22

R Encyclopedia of Educational Research. 370.3 6th ed. 1992. 4 vols. M757d This standard source presents a critical synthesis of research on educational problems and practices as well as experimental studies. Extensive bibliographies are included with each article.

Ancient Europe 8000 B.C.-A.D. 1000: Encyclopedia of the Barbarian World. 2004. 2 vols. Arranged topically with volume 1 covering the Mesolithic to Copper Age (c. 8000-2000 B.C.) and volume 2 covering the Bronze to Early Middle Ages (c. 3000 B.C.-A.D. 1000).

R. 939.4 C49

Civilizations of the Ancient Near East. 1995. 4 vols. Divided into eleven parts by broad subjects. Focuses on civilizations of the Mediterranean world from the Bronze Age (3200 B.C.E.) to the Hellenistic era (325 B.C.E.).

EDUCATION R Encyclopedia of Education. 2003. 8 vols. 370.3 En194 Articles cover topics related to learning and instruction for all levels of education. Educational history, theory, research, and philosophy, as well as people, associations, and institutions are included.

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. 2001. 3 vols.

R. Encyclopedia of European Social History from 940.03 1350 to 2000. 2001. 6 vols. En19 Includes articles arranged into topical sections. Volume one contains a chronology and volume six provides biographies and an index. R. 940.2 En19

Encyclopedia of the Renaissance. 1999. 6 vols. Presents scholarly articles describing the “cultural movement” and historical period known as the Renaissance. The time period covered begins with mid-14th century Italy and ends throughout Europe in the 17th century.

HISTORY R. 903 L328

Larousse Dictionary of World History. 1994. Contains short entries describing the key figures, groups, and events that shaped world history.

R Dictionary of the Middle Ages. 1982-1989. 909.07 13 vols. D56 Contains approximately 5,000 articles describing people, places, and events from

R. Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment. 2003. 940.25 4 vols. En19 For the purposes of this work, Enlightenment has been defined as “a set of tendencies and developments of European culture from the 1670s to the early nineteenth century (including in the American outposts of that culture).” Includes articles covering topics and people related to this culture.

Finding Background Information

R. 947 En19

Encyclopedia of Eastern Europe: From the Congress of Vienna to the Fall of Communism. 2000. Provides longer articles on the seven countries included in the geographic scope of this book (Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia) as well as short entries on other aspects of life in this area.

R 950 En19

R. Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. 2002. 6 vols. 950 En196 Focuses on the thirty-three nations that range from Japan in the east to Turkey in the west and from Kazakhstan in the north to Indonesia in the south. Each volume includes an introductory essay on the historical geography of the areas covered, several maps, and a “Reader’s Guide.” R. 956 En19

Encyclopedia of Africa South of the Sahara. 1997. 4 vols. Includes hundreds of articles arranged alphabetically including some “composite” entries of articles on one subject clustered together. In addition to an index, the final volume contains an appendix on research about Africa by non-Africans, a chronology, and a list of ethnic names.

R. 970 En19

Encyclopedia of the North American Colonies. 1993. 3 vols.

The Canadian Encyclopedia. 1985. 3 vols. Includes entries relating to Canadian history and culture on such diverse topics as the provinces, cultural and political figures, ice hockey, and birch bark biting. Some entries include reading lists and cross-references. Vol. 3 contains an index for subjects not in the three-volume alphabetical list.

R. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican 972.01 Cultures: The Civilizations of Mexico and Ox25 Central America. 2001. 3 vols. Presents essays on the culture and history of peoples in the southern two thirds of Mexico as well as Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and parts of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. R. 973 C73

A Companion to American Thought. 1995.

R 973 D56a

Dictionary of American History. 3rd ed. 2003. 10 vols.

Provides essays on the key topics and figures throughout American history that affected our intellectual development. Covers subjects as diverse as “abortion,” “feminist jurisprudence,” “privacy,” and “virtue.”

Provides articles on events, places, groups, and ideas related to American History. Does not include biographical entries. Volume 9 includes archival maps and primary documents.

Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century African History. 2003. Explores the history of change in Africa during the last century in short to mediumlength entries.

R. 967 En19

R 971 C16

Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East. 1996. 4 vols. Covers the history, politics, religion, economics, literature, and arts of the Middle East since 1800.

R. 960.3 En19

Contains longer topical and thematic essays arranged into broad categories such as “Government and Law” and “Religion.” Volume one begins with a chronology.

Encyclopedia of Asian History. 1988. 4 vols. In defining Asia, the editors have included Iran and Central Asia, South Asia, and East Asia, but not the majority of the Middle East (Syria, Israel, Iraq, and Turkey) or the Soviet Union. Covers all aspects of Asian civilization from early history through the 1980's.


Ref. 973 En19

Encyclopedia of American Social History. 1993. 3 vols. Includes essays on the major issues that have dominated historical writing for the last generation such as periods of social change, ethnic and racial subcultures, popular culture, and work and labor.

R. Encyclopedia of African American History 973. 1619-1895. 2006. 3 vols. 0496 En192 Provides essays on the people, events, eras, legal cases, places, and areas of cultural achievement in African American history from 1619 to 1895. Includes a “Chronology of

10 Finding Background Information

African American History, 1619-1895” and a “Topical Outline of Articles” in volume 5. R. Encyclopedia of African American History 973. 1896 to the Present. 2009. 5 vols. 0496 En193 Following the set above, focuses on the events, people, eras, legal cases, places, and areas of cultural achievement in African American history since the end of the nineteenth century. A “Thematic Outline of Entries” and a “Chronology of African American History, 1896 to the Present” are included in volume 5. R. 973.5 En19

Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century. 2001. 3 vols. (also available online at http://ezproxy.greenville. edu/login?url= /vol/493) Alphabetically covers the key issues and events of the nineteenth century. Includes a chronology of events in volume one.

R. 980 En19

Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. 1996. 5 vols. Provides articles on the history and life of peoples in Latin American countries. Long articles on specific countries are included. A list of “Biographies by Category” is included in volume 5.

POLITICAL SCIENCE/LAW R. Encyclopedia of the United States Congress. 328.73 1995. 4 vols. En19 Offers essays describing all aspects of Congress from its history and responsibilities to its unique culture. A “Glossary of Legislative Terms” and a copy of the U.S. Constitution are included in the last volume. R. 363.2 En19

Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment. 2002. 4 vols. (also available online at punishment/) Covers various topics relating to criminal behavior and society’s responses to it.


The Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology.

150.1 En19

2009. 2 vols. Focuses on the field of positive psychology, “the pursuit of optimal human functioning.”

R. Encyclopedia of Human Behavior. 1994. 150.3 4 vols. En188 Includes long articles on topics associated with the study of human behavior. “Glossaries” at the beginning of each article define key terms related to the topic. R. Encyclopedia of Psychology (APA & 150.3 Oxford). 2000. 8 vols. En196 Comprehensive and scholarly encyclopedia covering all aspects of psychology. Articles include useful bibliographies. Volume eight includes a synoptic outline of the contents. R Encyclopedia of Psychology. (Corsini). 150.32 1994. 4 vols. En19a This encyclopedia covers topics and persons related to the many branches of psychology. Author and title references follow major articles. Indexes and a bibliography of books and articles cited throughout the set are listed in volume 4. R. 152.4 En19

Encyclopedia of Law Enforcement. 2005. 3 vols. (also available online at http://ezproxy. Includes articles on law enforcement topics ranging from descriptions of specific agencies to contemporary theories of police work.

R 364


Encyclopedia of Human Emotions. 1999. 2 vols. In addition to some biographical entries, contains articles on specific emotions and concepts, themes, and theoretical issues related to emotions.

R. 155.4 H19a

Handbook of Child Psychology. 6th ed. 2006. 4 vols. Provides detailed and scholarly essays. Each volume focuses on a different aspect of child development and psychology: 1) Theoretical Models of Human Development, 2) Cognition,

Finding Background Information 11

Perception, and Language, 3) Social, Emotional, and Personality Development, 4) Child Psychology in Practice. Each volume contains both an author and a subject index. R. 155.5 H19

Handbook of Adolescent Psychology. 3rd ed. 2009. 2 vols. Divides scholarly essays in the field of adolescent psychology into two topical volumes: 1) Individual Bases of Adolescent Development, and 2) Contextual Influences on Adolescent Development.

R. Encyclopedia of Multicultural Psychology. 155.82 2006. (also available online at http://ezproxy. En19 psychology/ Indexes terms, concepts, and issues related to using culture to understand differences among individuals. R. 302 H19

Discusses terms, events, people, and ideas related to the history of anti-Jewish antagonism throughout the world. R. 306 En19

Lists and describes more than 1,500 world cultures. Volume 10 includes indexes by country, culture, and subject. R. Macmillan Encyclopedia of World Slavery. 306.362 1998. 2 vols. M22 Contains articles on the history and impact of human bondage throughout the world from early times through the late 20th century. R. 306. 803 In85

International Encyclopedia of Marriage and the Family. 2nd ed. 2003 . 4 vols.

R. 323 C49

Civil Rights in the United States. 2000. 2 vols.

Handbook of Social Psychology. 2010. 2 vols. Arranged topically, covers the field of social psychology with detailed essays written by the top scholars in the field.

R. 303.6 V81

Violence in America. 1999. 3 vols.

R. 305.8 En19

Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society. 2008. 3 vols.

Thirty longer essays, such as the introductory “Overview of Violence in the United States,” are complimented by more than 595 entries describing aspects of violence in America.

Offers essays on racial and ethnic groups, issues of inequality, and other racial and ethnic topics that impact society broadly. R. Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of 305.892 Prejudice and Persecution. 2005. 2 vols. An87

Provides essays and substantial bibliographies on a variety of topics related to marriage and family life.

Following an essay on the Bill of Rights, alphabetical entries explain ways the United States has struggled with civil rights issues throughout its history.

SOCIOLOGY R Encyclopedia of Sociology. 2nd ed. 2000. 301 5 vols. En19a Includes essays on a variety of sociological topics with lists of "References" at the ends of articles and an index in volume five.

Encyclopedia of World Cultures. 1991-1996, 2002. 10 vols. and supplement.

R 326 P72c

The Negro Almanac: A Reference Work on the Afro-American. 5th ed. 1989. Articles cover the history and culture of African-Americans. A select bibliography and index are provided at the end of the volume. Use the detailed table of contents also.

R. Poverty in the United States: An Encyclopedia 339.46 of History, Politics, and Policy. 2004. 2 vols. P86 Begins with five essays describing the history of poverty in the U. S. These are followed by an alphabetical listing of articles related to various aspects of poverty. R. 361 C73

Comprehensive Handbook of Social Work and Social Welfare. 2008. 4 vols. Presents scholarly essays organized topically by volume. Organized with a separate table of contents and index for each volume.

12 Finding Background Information

R. Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive 362.29 Behavior. 2nd ed. 2001. 4 vols. En19 Contains information on the details and effects of many types of addictions. Volume 4 includes an index and several appendices. R. 362.5 En19

Encyclopedia of World Poverty. 2006. 3 vols. (also available online at http://ezproxy. Provides articles on countries and topics related to poverty throughout the world.

R 796 N42

The New York Times Encyclopedia of Sports. 1979-1980. 15 vols. Each volume focuses on a different sport or type of sport (e.g. football, golf, winter sports, water sports).

R. Handbook of Sport Psychology. 3rd ed. 2007. 796.01 H19 Examines the field of sport psychology through in-depth, scholarly essays arranged topically. R. 796. 0973 En19

R. 503 V33 2002

Encyclopedia of Sports in America: A History from Foot Races to Extreme Sports. 2009. 2 vols. Following the first two chapters which survey sports from 1607-1860 and 1861-1889, essaylength chapters chronicle the history of sports in America decade by decade.


Contains short introductions to topics across the broad range of the sciences.

Concise Encyclopedia Biology. 1996. Provides over 7,000 entries in the areas of biochemistry, botany, ecology, genetics, molecular biology, paleontology, physiology, and zoology.

R Cambridge Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. 574.03 1985. C14 Surveys the current state of knowledge in biology. Articles, for example, cover the cell, genetics, ecology, marine environmentalists, the evolutionary process, and paleontology. Species and subject indexes provided. R. 574.5 En19

Encyclopedia of Environmental Biology. 1995. 3 vols. Includes longer articles on areas of environmental interest for students, professionals, and the general public as well as environmental issues of interest to lawyers.

R. 576.5 K58

A Dictionary of Genetics. 7th ed. 2006.

R. 576.8 En19

Encyclopedia of Evolution. 2002. 2 vols.

R. 610.3 B56

Black’s Medical Dictionary. 41st ed. 2006. (2010, 42nd ed. available online at

GENERAL R. Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and 503 Ethics. 2005. 4 vols. En197 Brings together many aspects of the emerging relationships between ethics and the scientific and technological worlds.

Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia. 9th ed. 2002. 2 vols.


Encyclopedia of Sports Science. 1997. 2 vols. Includes articles on the history of sport as well as the scientific and physiological principles governing motion and performance.

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. 1992. 20 vols. Provides basic factual information in the physical, natural, and applied sciences.

R. 574 C74

SPORTS R. 613.7 EN19

R 503 M17

Contains definitions for nearly 7,000 terms related to the rapidly changing field of genetics.

Opens with several overview essays; then scholarly articles follow alphabetically covering a wide range of topics related to evolution.

Finding Background Information 13

Classic medical dictionary with more than 5,000 medical definitions and descriptions. R. 610 Ox2a

R 611 G79b

R. 612. 003 EN19

R. 615.1 M53

R. 540 V33

The Oxford Medical Companion. 1994. Covers standard medical definitions but also includes biographies of prominent medical personages and other related topics such as “Environment and medicine” and “Ethical issues in modern health care.”

Concise but detailed classic reference source on general chemistry. R. 540 C85 2007

CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. 88th (2007-2008) ed. 2008.

Ref. 540.3 D34

Lange's Handbook of Chemistry. 14th ed. 1992.

Gray’s Anatomy. 38th ed. 1995. Provides a detailed description of the human anatomy with many illustrations. Organized into sections by different body system and function.

The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals. 14th ed. 2006.

COMPUTER SCIENCE R Encyclopedia of Computer Science. 3rd ed. 004.03 1993. (2003, 4th ed. available online at En19 http://

Includes over 10,000 brief descriptions of chemical substances and small groups of closely related compounds. R. 616 H24

For more up to date information, consult the 4th ed. online. This print 3rd edition provides a broad “snapshot” of the computer science world as of 1993. Organized into chapters by topics. A detailed index as well as several useful appendices appear at the back.

Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. 1998. 2 vols. Presents a comprehensive view of the different facets of the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders. Arranged by subject into chapters with an index at the end of the second volume.

Ref Encyclopedia of Environmental Science and 628.03 Engineering. 1992. 2 vols. En19 Provides technical articles on a wide variety of subjects related to environmental science and engineering.

EARTH SCIENCES R. Energy for the 21st Century: A Comprehensive 333.79 Guide to Conventional and Alternative N35 Sources. 2007. Gives an overview of the history and status of the primary sources of energy in the world today. R. 550.3 M11


Covers a broad range of topics of interest to physical scientists. Includes many tables and diagrams.

Contains factual information related to all aspects of chemistry. Consult the Contents page at the front of the book or the Index at the back.

Encyclopedia of Human Biology. 2nd ed. 1997. 9 vols. Provides scholarly essays on human biology ranging from public health to genetics and cell biology.

Van Nostrand’s Encyclopedia of Chemistry. 5th ed. 2005.

Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences. 2 vols. 1996. Contains over 350 basic articles on the earth sciences. Includes illustrations.

Concise Encyclopedia Chemistry. 1993. PHYSICS Offers approximately 12,000 entries on topics related to general, organic, inorganic, physical, and technical chemistry.

R. 530.3

Encyclopedia of Physics. 2004.

14 Finding Background Information


Includes short definitions with eleven longer essays scattered throughout the work to provide an overview of the world of physics.

R. 540 C85 2007

CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. 88th (2007-2008) ed. 2008. Covers a broad range of topics of interest to physical scientists. Includes many tables and diagrams.

Remember, the background sources listed above are only a few examples. Many more sources are available in print in the Reference Area of the Library and electronically on the Library website at y/ If you need assistance in finding other background information sources, remember you can always CONSULT A REFERENCE LIBRARIAN!

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