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Research Guides

European History: Renaissance to Modern Day Research Guide

An overview of print and electronic resources that will help you get started on your research.

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Historical encyclopedias give general overviews of concepts just like a traditional encyclopedia. In addition to the concise explanations of important historical terminology, a historical encyclopedia includes a bibliography. The bibliography, although short, contains the most important works covering the subject at the time of publication. Historical dictionaries usually do not have a bibliography but do have very brief entries on a historical topic.

Arnold-Baker, Charles. The Companion to British History. London: Routledge, 2001.
Ref D34 .A79 2001
This one volume book is a dictionary-like book detailing a variety of subjects in British history. In addition to individuals, it outlines key concepts, geographic areas, and other important information.
Connolly, S. J. (ed.) The Oxford Companion to Irish History. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002.
Ref DA912 .O94 2002
Like many others in the companion series by Oxford University Press, this edition contains brief dictionary-like entries on a variety of subjects in Irish history. One especially nice feature in this volume is the extensive collection of maps.
Frucht, Richard (ed.) Encyclopedia of Eastern Europe: From the Congress of Vienna to the Fall of Communism. New York: Garland, 2000.
Ref DKJ6 .E53 2000
Finding information about the dramatic changes of Eastern Europe during the twentieth century can be difficult. This one-volume work includes entries covering a broad spectrum of topics. Also included are maps detailing the vast changes in regional boundaries during this time period.
Grendler, Paul F. (ed.) Encyclopedia of the Renaissance. New York: Scribners, 1999.
Ref CB361 .E52 1999
A detailed chronology begins this six volume set highlighting the Renaissance. Included within these volumes are detailed entries with bibliographies and illustrations. Many of the great works of art from the period are included in color plates.
Kinney, Arthur and David W. Swain (eds.) Tudor England: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland, 2001.
Ref DA315 .T753 2001
This encyclopedia contains detailed entries concerning different issues of the Tudor period. Each of these entries has an extensive bibliography highlighting specific resources. Also, the appendix includes bibliographic essays on a variety of different topics.
Kros, Alan Charles (ed.) Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Ref B802 .E53 2003
All aspects of the Enlightenment are covered in this encyclopedia. Not only are individuals highlighted, but also concepts dealing with political thought, intellectual movements and ideas, and geographic trends during the period.
Scott, Samuel F. and Barry Rothaus. Historical Dictionary of the French Revolution, 1789-1799. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1985.
Ref DC147 .H57 1985
This detailed two volume set has in-depth entries covering important topics of the period. Each entry also contains a brief bibliography.
Strayer, Joseph R. Dictionary of the Middle Ages. New York: Scribner, 1982-1986.
Ref D114 .D5 1982
Arranged alphabetically, this 13 volume work has long, detailed entries on various topics dealing with the Middle Ages. The index is a helpful tool for locating entries within the numerous volumes.  
Zenter, Christian, and Friedemann Bedurftig (eds.) The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. New York: Macmillan, 1991.
Ref DD256.6 .G76313 1991
Translated from the German Das Grosse Lexikon des Dritten Reiches by Amy Hackett, this encyclopedia contains a wealth of information covering Germany from 1933 to 1945. There are many photographs and other illustrations throughout the two volume set.