Getting Started

The Library has a large number of subject-specific online encyclopedias, companions and handbooks with introductions to and state-of-the-art reviews of history topics. These essays can save you time by assisting you with defining and focusing your topic. They generally include bibliographies which list important historians who have published on the topic.

Gale eBooks
Search multiple encyclopedias simultaneously. GVRL includes the Dictionary of American History, the Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History, the Encyclopedia of U.S. Indian Policy and Law, and U.S. Environmental Policy and Politics: A Documentary History.

Companion to American Environmental History
Presents a comprehensive collection of over 30 essays that examine the evolving and diverse field of American environmental history with a complete historiography of the field.

Oxford Handbook of Environmental History
Includes essays that address most aspects of environmental history including climate, disease, flora, fauna, race, gender, consumption, borders, and cultural landscapes.

Encyclopedia of American Social Movements
This encyclopedia includes an essay about U.S. environmental movements of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Oxford Bibliographies (Oxford University Press)  Tutorial
Includes two recent literature reviews of the field by Robert Wilson and Stephen Mosley along with many other bibliographies on more specific environmental topics.

Oxford Research Encyclopedias (Oxford University Press)
Presents overview essays on a wide range of topics related to environmental history ranging from environmental pollution to working class environmentalism and environmental and conservation movements. Essays on infrastructure deal with water and sewers, roads and highways, and mass-transit. The University community has only access to the American and Latin American history files. Each essay includes a section on primary sources and a bibliography with recommended readings.

Books & Book Chapters

Much of the scholarly literature in the field is published in books which are often referred to as monographs. Find books in the Library’s collection with a Books & Media search. For a more comprehensive review of the literature consult WorldCat and use the integrated Borrow from other libraries feature to request books which are not locally available.

Falvey Library Catalog (Books & Media)
Keyword and subject searches in the Library's catalog are good starting points when first exploring a topic. Search results can be narrowed with facets such as topic, era, language or region. Facets are located on the right hand side of the results screen.

WorldCat (FirstSearch)
Offers comprehensive indexing of books published world-wide and highlights those available at Villanova University. Other items can be requested with an online request form. Look for the Borrow from another library link.

Presents an archive of selected core journals and books in the humanities, social sciences and mathematics.

EZBorrow and Interlibrary Loan
Requests books that are not available on campus from other libraries.

Primary Sources in Print

Falvey Library Catalog
Use the local catalog to search for primary sources in print books. Books in the library’s digital collections are also indexed in the catalog.

WorldCat (FirstSearch)
A catalog of library holdings worldwide. WorldCat will indicate any local library holdings and also offers an inter-library loan request option.

Here are a few tricks which will help you to locate primary sources in the catalog:

  • Search by author to find autobiographies, collections of letters, speeches, diaries and more.
  • Official subject terms that generally describe primary sources include diaries, correspondence, personal narratives, speeches, description and travel, sources, manuscripts, "early works to 1800".
  • Keywords that describe primary sources include all of the above plus memoirs, journal, travel narratives, documents.
  • Use keywords that describe classes of people to find primary sources by unknown subjects. Examples include lawyers, soldiers, nurses, African Americans, Indians of North America, children.
  • Newspapers can be tricky, because they are published continuously over many years and may change their names repeatedly. Look them up in a catalog and check whether the paper was published in your period of interest.
    Example: A subject search for Ireland and newspapers will result in a list of locally available Irish newspapers.
  • Ask a librarian for help if you have any questions.

Selected Digital Primary Source Collections

All books and pamphlets available through the Library’s digital collections have records and links in the catalog.

New York Times: 1851- (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)
Complete coverage from 1851 to the present with the exception of the most current two years.

Washington Post (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)
Complete coverage from 1877-1996.

Black Historical Newspapers (ProQuest)
Offers access to the major African American newspapers of the 20th century.

American Indian Newspapers (Adam Matthew Digital)
An archive of selected American Indian newspapers published between 1828 and 2016.

Readers' Guide Retrospective: 1890-1982 (EBSCO)
Indexes popular U.S. magazines from 1890-1982.

Readers' Guide Full Text Mega (EBSCO)
Indexes popular U.S. magazines from 1983 to the present.

U.S. Congressional Serial Set: 1817–1994 (Readex)
Reports, documents and journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives from the 15th Congress through the 103rd Congress.

Electronic archives to leading journals of opinion including The New Republic, The Nation, NACLA, Commonweal, and The National Review.

Alternative Press Index (EBSCO)
Indexes journals from the alternative, radical and left presses, newspapers and magazines covering cultural, economic, political and social change.

Ethnic NewsWatch (ProQuest)
Offers access to newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic, minority, and native press.

CQ Press Library (CQ Press)
Provides a combined search interface and access to selected CQ Press publications including the CQ Almanac (1945-), the Political Handbook of the World (2005-), and the Supreme Court Yearbook (1989-).

 Citing Your Sources