Resources for History Research

Image of the Santa Barbara Mission c. 1910 from the collections at the Library of Congress.

About this Guide

This guide provides students with recommended resources for conducting research on topics related to History. Use the tabs above to navigate through the pages of the guide.

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Online Reference Sources

Reference books are a good place to begin your research. The library subscribes to some online reference sources, including the following general reference books and history-specific books. When accessing these resources off campus, you’ll be prompted for your pipeline username and password:

Topic Pages from Credo Reference

Explore the topic pages listed below or try searching other keywords in Credo Reference:

Print Reference Sources

These print resources are available in the Luria Library Reference section:

  • World History Encyclopedia – R 903 A556w 2011
  • Encyclopedia of American History – R 973.03 N249e
  • Encyclopedia of African History – R 960.03 S556e
  • Encyclopedia Latina: History, Culture and Society in the United States – R 973.0468 S798e


Search the library catalog (books+) for books on your topic. The library’s collection includes both print books and online ebooks. Search for books on your topic by keyword. String multiple keywords together with the word “and,” as in some of the examples below:

    United States and 19th century and history
    African Americans and slavery and history
    Egypt and women and history


Articles from periodicals (journals, magazines, and newspapers) often provide current information on a topic. To find articles on your topic, search by keyword in these recommended library databases.

  • Academic Search Complete: A great starting point for research on any topic.
  • JSTOR: Provides access to the full text of articles from hundreds of scholarly journals covering a wide range of subjects in the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences.
  • Project MUSE: Provides complete, full-text versions of scholarly journals in subject areas such as: ethnic studies; art and architecture; literature; education; history; language; philosophy; religion; and more.
  • America, History and Life: Covers the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present.
  • History Reference Center: This resource covers all time periods of U.S. and World History.
  • Nexis Uni: Provides the full text of more than 15,000 news, business and legal sources. News sources include: current and back issues of local, regional, national, and international newspapers; television and radio broadcast transcripts; newswires; and blogs. Business sources include: information on more than 80 million U.S. and international companies and more than 75 million executives. Legal sources include: law reviews and journals; and the Shepard’s® Citations Service for all federal and state court cases and statutes back to 1789, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions back to 1790.

Primary Sources

Primary sources are the evidence of history. They are first-person accounts or direct evidence of the topics or events you are researching. There are many types of primary sources: letters, diaries, photographs, autobiographies, speeches, interviews, oral histories, and more.

Use the following library resources and internet resources to find primary sources related to your topic. Consult this Primary Sources Guide for a more extensive list of resources:

Library Databases

  • ARTstor: This database provides images (prints, posters, maps, photographs) in a variety of subject areas. Use the advanced search to limit your results by date to find works from a particular time period.
  • History Reference Center: Primary source material in this database includes treaties, photos, maps and videos. Use the advanced search and select “primary source document” in the “publication type” menu.

Internet Resources

  • American Memory — Library of Congress: Includes “written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience.” Check out the other Library of Congress digital collections as well.
  • Calisphere — University of California: Includes over 150,000 digitized primary sources.
  • The Internet Classics Archive — MIT: Almost 400 English translations of classical Greek and Roman texts.
  • Internet Ancient History Sourcebook— Fordham University: Provides online primary source texts of time period and includes links to visual and aural material, since art and archeology are far more important for the periods in question than for later history.
  • World Digital Library — Supported by UNESCO: This resource makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.


Finding good websites for college research can be difficult and time-consuming. Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Test for Evaluating Sources to determine whether the sources you find are credible.

Below are recommendations for exploring history topics on the web

    PBS History Videos: Browse a comprehensive selection of videos produced by PBS.
    California Historical Society: “The CHS Collection represents the environmental, economic, social, political, and cultural heritage of the entire state, including materials from outside California that contribute to a greater understanding of the state and its people.”
    Cold War International History Project: A comprehensive source of information, both historical and present-day, regarding the Cold War Era.

Professional Organizations

How to Cite

Double check with your professor about which citation style is required for your assignments.


Chicago citation style is commonly used in the humanities, especially for history research papers. The following resources will help you construct Chicago-style citations:


MLA citation style is often used when writing papers in the liberal arts or humanities. The following resources will help you construct MLA citations: