Start your research With Background Sources! Learn basic facts about your topic using encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other book sources.
Best Places to Start
Gale EbooksFormerly: Gale Virtual Reference Library. Includes subject encyclopedias, reference sources, and other ebooks.
SAGE Knowledge5100+ e-books in the social sciences. Includes scholarly monographs, reference works (encyclopedias & handbooks), professional development titles, and textbooks.
World GeographyComprehensive information on countries worldwide, including geography, politics, socioeconomics, & culture
Biography In ContextAuthoritative biographies of both contemporary and historical figures. Continuously updated, find people based on occupation, role, historical period, nationality, and other characteristics.
A primary source (also called an original source) is an eyewitness account, diary, article, or any other source of information that was created at the time. For example, if you are studying the American Revolution, an article from a newspaper written during the 1770s would be a primary source on the topic, as would a diary entry from a soldier at one of the battles. Historical documents are often our best sources for primary information.
Primary Sources Databases and Books
American Decades Primary Sources by Cynthia Rose (Editor)Cross-disciplinary source spanning the 20th century. Each volume in the set includes full or excerpted primary sources representing the seminal issues, themes, movements and events from a decade. Includes oral histories, songs, speeches, advertisements, TV, play and movie scripts, letters, laws, legal decisions, newspaper articles, cartoons, recipes, and more.
Publication Date: 2003-12-05
American Decades Primary Sources, v. 11: 2000-2009 by Matthew Joseph Bruccoli (Editor); Richard Layman (Editor)This is the 11th volume in the American Decades Primary Sources series, covering the first decade of the 21st century. This is a cross-disciplinary source for researchers who need a single, consistent reference to explore and analyze the events, people and social trends that have impacted contemporary history. It covers world events, the arts, business and the economy, education, fashion, government and politics, law and justice, lifestyles and social trends, media, medicine and health, religion, science and technology, and sports.
Publication Date: 2013-06-15
Historic DocumentsPublished since 1972, each annual edition contains primary sources covering the most significant events of the year, including presidential speeches, international
agreements, Supreme Court decisions, U.S. government reports, scientific
findings, & cultural discussions.
GovInfoA service of the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) that provides free public access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. Replaced the FDsys website.
Statistical Abstract of the United StatesComprehensive statistical work published annually by the U.S. Census Bureau from 1878 to 2012 covering social, political, and economic conditions in the U.S. ProQuest, a private company, took over its publication, requiring a subscription.
UN dataProvides access to a large number of statistical databases compiled by United Nations member countries for 70+ years covering a wide range of themes, including crimes, education, employment, energy, health, industry, refugees, tourism, trade, and more. Has country and regional profiles.