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History: Background: General

Subject Encyclopedias

Many subject encyclopedias are now available online as e-books, but paper still works!  Use whatever best suits your topic, regardless of medium.    Below are the large collections of e-reference materials we have that cover history:

Why find Background Information

Background information, often found in  subject encyclopedias, can provide valuable information that can save you time.  Subject encyclopedias are encyclopedias dedicated to one theme or subject, and thus the information provided can be more in depth than that found in general encyclopedias, which must cover all subjects.  Subject encyclopedias can provide:

Finding Subject Encyclopedias

You can use any library catalog (Cameo, Worldcat, Pittcat) to find subject encyclopedias.  Just search encyclopedias as a subject term and combine that with a relevant keyword. For Example:


No, not every topic may have a relevant subject encyclopedia, but many do and can save you time and effort.  You can also search  the subject encyclopedia collections listed under "Subject Encylopedias."  Of course reference librarians can help you find relevant subject encyclopedias, too-just Ask a Librarian!

History Librarian

Sue Collins's picture
Sue Collins
Sue Collins
Senior Librarian
109E Hunt Library
4909 Frew St.
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA 15213