Reference books, either in print or online, are excellent support sources for research. They can be specialized dictionaries or encyclopedias, atlases or compilations of statistics, bibliographies or guides to archival resources.
* Dictionaries--Often interpretations of passages in primary documents revolve around the definition of a word or phrase within its historic context. What was the "Young America Movement" in the antebellum United States? What was a "dustoff" in the Vietnam War?
* Encyclopedias--Specialized history encyclopedias offer relatively short articles on persons, organizations, places, and concepts, usually ending with a short bibliography of additional sources. They are excellent starting points, providing summaries of topics along with ideas for possible areas for more detailed research. They, along with subject dictionaries, are also utilized for clarifying concepts and identifying persons mentioned in passing.
While dictionaries and subject encyclopedias seldom show up in bibliographies of academic papers unless quoted directly, they can still be useful in building the foundation of meaningful research.
All reference books are held in the Robert R. Muntz Library on the 2nd (main) floor. Most history books fall into the C, D, E, and F call number areas, but they may be found throughout the collection. You may also look up reference books online.
Here is a representative selection of useful history reference books:
"A multidisciplinary encyclopedia of Texas history, geography, and culture. It comprises more than 23,000 articles on people, places, events, historical themes, institutions, and a host of other topic categories. The scope is broad and inclusive, designed to provide readers with concise, authoritative, and accessible articles that provide factual, nonpartisan accounts on virtually every aspect of Texas history and culture." Most entries are signed and include short bibliographies. Absolutely essential for anyone researching Texas or Texans.
UT Tyler students and faculty also have access to a number of reference books online, whether through our subscriptions to Gale Virtual Reference Library.
Gale Virtual Reference Library offers approximately 150+ recently published reference books, including 139 in history, most of which we have available in no other format. A list of the history reference books appears in the first link below, followed by a few examples: