Reference tools provide generally agreed upon "facts" or common knowledge -- background information, the who, what, where and when -- and a bit of the how and why -- for any topic. They include subject and biographical dictionaries and encyclopedias, almanacs, chronologies, directories and atlases. Many, especially dictionaries and encyclopedias, are now available online. Many others, especially historical atlases and chronologies are still only available in print.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica online
- American National Biography
- Literature Resource Center
- Oxford Music Online.
- Oxford Art Online.
- Wikipedia can be a great quick help in identifying the "who, what, when and where" of any given issue -- subject to later verification. Librarians use it all the time. However, it can be highly suspect when it comes to "how and why" questions especially those concerning intense conflicts. Use it -- but use it with caution!
Links to online referernce collections that may contain helpful sources depending on your topic.
Selected examples of print reference sources. All titles are located in the General Reference Collection (1st floor, Hesburgh Library). Browsing the reference collection using the examples listed below as starting points can be very effective.
- Dictionary of American History E 174 .D52 2003
- Encyclopedia of American Facts and Dates E 174.5 .C31997
- The Sixties Chronicles E 841 .s59 2004
- Encyclopedia of American Social Movements HN 57 .E594 2004
- Peace movement directory: North American organizations... JZ 5514 .B46 2001
- World Encyclopedia of Peace. JZ 5533 .W67 1999
- A to Z maps online (political, physical, outline & others)
- All the Worlds Maps (detail and type vary)
- Atlapedia Online (regional)
- Blank & Outline Maps (outline only)
- Google Earth (no printing)
Examples of specialized atlases available in the Hesburgh Library Reference Collection. The Libraries also have a collection of large, detailed maps published by various U.S. government agencies.
- The Routledge atlas of African American history E 185 .E125 2000
- Atlas of American Politics 1960-2000 G 1201 .F1 A8 2002
- Historical atlas of the United States G 1201 .S1 H57 2003
Statistics are often divided into to categories, data sets that have not yet been analysed and statistical tables, charts and graphs based on data sets. Sometimes statistical tables will link to the original data sets but more often simply cite them.
- Statistical Abstract (U.S. Census Bureau) (stats with cites)
- Proquest Statistical Datasets (data sets & graphs)
- Proquest Statistical (stats, charts & tables)
- Polling the Nations (public opinion stats)
- Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) (data sets)
- Infonation Advanced (stats and graphs)
- Finding data & statistics (Subject Guide)