The tools suggested below will help you to select secondary sources that support the argument put forth in your historiographical project. Each one of these tools will answer at least one of the following questions.
What was the impact of this book?
How was this work received by the scholarly community?
What approach did the author of this book take?
How does this work related to other publications on the same topic?
Which historians published on this topic?
Book reviews are another way to gauge the impact of a work. Don't expect to find reviews of monographs that were just published. The first reviews by historians generally appear after at least half a year has passed. Pay attention to the number of reviews available for a monograph and the journals that published them. This information will tell you a lot about the impact and reception of a work.
Book Review Digest Retrospective, 1903-1982 (EBSCO)
The Library's databases index book reviews. Note that none of these databases will index all available book reviews. Results are limited to the journals indexed in a database. Below is a small selection of recommended databases.
Historical Abstracts (EBSCO) Tutorial
International Medieval Bibliography (Brepols)
Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index
Articles & More Search
Annotated bibliographies are helpful introductions to the literature of a field. They are, however, a dying breed and only as current as their publication date. Online databases and indexes are a more reliable approach to identifying current scholarship. Nevertheless, printed editions of guides to the literature of a field remain valuable for historiographical projects. Below are two examples. Additional bibliographies may be identified via the Library's catalog and WorldCat.
Presents peer-reviewed, annotated bibliographies and expert commentary on current scholarship in selected disciplines. Villanova University has access to the following bibliographies: African American Studies, Art History, Atlantic History, Biblical Studies, British and Irish Literature, Buddhism, Cinema and Media Studies, Classics, Communication, Criminology, Environmental Science, Geography, International Relations, Islamic Studies, Latin American Studies, Management, Medieval Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Renaissance and Reformation, and Victorian Literature.
American Historical Association's Guide to Historical Literature
The Guide "offers a selective inventory of the best historical literature in all fields, topics, and methods, and was carefully crafted by large teams of bibliographers and historians." Note that the latest edition was published in 1995.
American Foreign Relations Since 1600: A Guide to the Literature
An annotated bibliographic guide published by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.
32 chapters organized by time period, among them a chapter on the cold war and one on the Korean War. Each chapter includes sections on published primary documents, the historiography, and biographies and memoirs.
Available in print only.
Academic journals typically have a section dedicated to the review of new monographs in the field. The Journal of the Civil War Era, would be a good starting point to survey new monographs, if you are planning to work on a Civil War topic. The American Historical Review published by the American Historical Association publishes approximately 1,000 book reviews per year. History Compass publishes historiographical essays "across the entire discipline, with no restrictions in terms of geography, time period or historical methodology."
Handbooks & Companions
The Library has a large selection of handbooks and companions that include literature surveys in any given field. Explore the selection listed below or contact your librarian for additional suggestions.
Blackwell Companions to History
Cambridge Histories Online (Cambridge University Press)
Routledge Companions to History
Cambridge Companions Online (Cambridge University Press)