The American Historical Association's guide to historical literature /

Corporate Author: American Historical Association.
Other Authors: Norton, Mary Beth., Gerardi, Pamela, 1956-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Oxford University Press, 1995
Edition: 3rd ed.
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Review by Choice Review

Norton and Gerardi, working with more than 400 contributors, have produced a monumental work of historical bibliography. It is composed of 26,926 annotated entries in 48 sections that cite books, articles, and chapters in books primarily in English published from 1961, the date of the last edition, through 1992. The 1st edition appeared in 1931. More than a decade in the making, this project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities with support from the Rockefeller, Mellon, and Luce foundations, sets out to identify "the finest and most useful books and articles in every field of historical scholarship" and "combines qualitative selectivity, inclusive breadth, and intellectual integration." The editorial board identified three user needs that governed the selection of items: "the need for reliable syntheses and reference works that provided entry into a historical field, the need to know the most highly esteemed works that set the standard of excellence ... and the need to explore major alternative interpretations represented in current scholarly debate." Although most sections relate to geographical areas, some are subject-oriented (e.g., "Science, Technology, and Medicine," "International Relations"), still others relate to such specialized topics as "Theory and Practice in Historical Study" or "Native Peoples in the Americas." Each section begins with an introductory essay followed by a guide to the arrangement of that section. Within a section, reference works and general studies precede entries arranged to suit the materials in that field. Citation to a given work generally appears only once, and the most recent American edition is preferred. In addition to standard bibliographical information, entries include series titles associated with scholarly institutes, societies, and associations, and ISBN or ISSN. Annotations average 30 words and are signed. Some sections have see also references at the end. Following the last section is a list of journals grouped by section name. The second volume concludes with a 118-page author index and an extremely detailed, useful, and accurate subject index of nearly 300 pages. The set is worth much more than its price and deserves to be in all but the smallest libraries. J. D. Haskell Jr.; College of William and Mary

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

It has been 34 years since the last Guide to Historical Literature appeared, years that have seen significant developments in the field of history. The old guide, long a standard bibliography, has joined the ranks of those works rarely consulted because they are too dated for the purpose for which they were created. In this case the purpose was to guide the beginning researcher to the most significant literature on any historical topic. This new edition has been 10 years in the making, and it is worth the wait. The new guide's 48 sections, covering the different areas of history, are each edited by a senior scholar in the field, with the assistance of additional scholars. In all, more than 400 historians were involved in the making of this work. Each section has an introduction that briefly summarizes developments and issues in that field. Then follow the bibliographic entries, nearly 27,000 in all by the publisher's count, each with brief signed annotations that vary between the purely descriptive and the evaluative. The entries are grouped into classification schemes within each section, often beginning with a list of reference works. In some cases this scheme is very detailed, while in other sections the editors have opted to use a small number of broad categories. An effort was made to avoid listing an item more than once, though there are a number of cross-references. Consequently, items of interest to a particular user may be listed in several places, and users will often need to browse the classification schemes, which are given at the head of each section, or use the remarkably detailed subject index, in itself nearly 300 pages in length. An author index and list of historical periodicals by field are also included. Even with 27,000 entries, this is a selective bibliography and consequently aimed not at the advanced researcher, but at someone beginning research in a particular area. Works in English are strongly emphasized, though major titles in other languages do appear, particularly in French and German. Monographs also predominate over articles. The guide, however, is obviously aimed at fairly serious students and will be used to best advantage by advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate students, though an effort is made to include reputable popular treatments. Allied areas such as archaeology and the history of art, literature, and philosophy are covered, and an entire section is devoted to the history of science, technology, and medicine. Notable, of course, is the increased treatment over the second edition in areas of social and cultural history; the history of women, virtually unknown as a field in 1961, is well represented in nearly every section. Full sections on medieval and modern Jewish history, or on the history of Native Americans, would not have been possible in 1961 but are included here. There doubtless will be disagreements about what works are included or excluded, or about specific fields represented. But the new edition remains a splendid achievement and is sure to be heavily consulted for years to come. It is difficult to imagine an academic library without this title; medium-size to large public libraries will also want to seriously consider purchase. (Reviewed Apr. 15, 1995)

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

This Guide is in a class all by itself. The third edition concentrates "on works published since 1961," when the second edition was published. Like its predecessors, it aims to list "the finest and most useful books and articles available in every field of historical scholarship," but this is a brand-new edition, not just an update. Entire subject areas no longer have their own separate sections (e.g., "History of Religion"), while others are new ("Science, Technology, Medicine"). Sections are generally much more detailed: U.S. history, for instance, moved from one 34-page section to six sections totaling 265 pages. The subject index provides excellent access to the material, and the annotations, averaging 30 words in length, are lucid. Though as in previous editions the Guide is often too general for the specialist, it is still invaluable for the nonspecialist. This superb new edition belongs in every library whose users want to identify the best historical scholarship.-Peter Dollard, Alma Coll. Lib., Mich. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.