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Research Guides

HSTAA 110: History of American Citizenship: Background Context: Reference Works

  

Encyclopedias help you figure out the who, what & where of a topic. Knowing the who, what & where of a topic is the first step in researching a topic and discovering the "how" and "why".They can provide background information and can be used to identify key people, events and dates which can then be used as search terms for finding additional information. Many also provide a jumpstart on your research by listing important books in the bibliography at the end of the entry.

Two online encyclopedia collections: Gale Virtual Reference  &  Oxford Reference Online 

Why Use Background Info

So you're going to ask grandma what she did during the summer of love. It's going to be helpful to know a bit background info. Sure the wikipedia article is a good start but you probably should know a bit more about the period.

  • What else was happening in 1967? A chronology such as American Decades might help.
     
  • Through the chronology you discover that the Vietnam War was happening. A look at the Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War will give you additional information on specific aspects of the war such as anti-war demonstrations.
     
  • Encyclopedias help you figure out the who, what & where of a topic. Knowing the who, what & where of a topic is the first step in researching a topic and discovering the "how" and "why".
     
  • Plus you can use the who, whats and wheres to to find relevant secondary works (using the sources listed under the tab "Historian's Interpretations & Analyses.") And encyclopedias give you a jump start on your research by listing important books in the bibliography at the end of the entry.
     
  • What was life like in 1967. In addition to Grandma's recollections you may want to get a feel for the period by browsing through magazines and newspapers from the time or looking at old photos. Plus these "old" magazines may help to elicit memories. See the sources under the "What Life Was Like" tabs.