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?
WorldCat is a catalog of library collections worldwide. It offers a wealth of information on the publication history of monographs such as the number of libraries that own a copy, the number of editions that were published and the number of translations if any. Multiple editions and translations into other languages are indicators for a work's impact. WorldCat is by far the best tool to assess how much has been published on a particular topic by academic presses as well as popular presses.
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 Plus (EBSCO)
Indexes book reviews published in U.S., Canadian and British periodicals, covering over 7,000 adult and children's books each year. Includes English-language fiction and nonfiction. Book Review Digest Retrospective: 1905-1982 (EBSCO)
This database includes records for more than 1.5 million book reviews. JSTOR
A searchable and browsable archive of full-text core journals and books in the humanities, social sciences and mathematics. Search results can be limited to book reviews. H-Net Reviews
H-Net Reviews are part of the H-Net online academic discussion network.
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.
America: History and Life (EBSCO)
Historical Abstracts (EBSCO)
A complete bibliographic reference to the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present. The database also includes citations and links to book and media reviews.America: History & Life is a self-paced interactive tutorial for students new to this resource.
An annotated reference guide to the history of the world (excluding the United States and Canada) from 1450 to the present. Provides indexing of more than 2,300 academic historical journals in over 40 languages back to 1955 as well as book reviews and dissertations.A Short Introduction to Historical Abstracts is a self-paced interactive tutorial for students new to this resource.
A searchable and browsable archive of full-text core journals and books in the humanities, social sciences and mathematics. International Medieval Bibliography (Brepols)
The International Medieval Bibliography (IMB) is a current, comprehensive bibliography of articles in journals and miscellany volumes (conference proceedings, essay collections or Festschriften) worldwide. Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index
Covers journal articles, book reviews, and essays in books about women, sexuality, and gender during the Middle Ages. Articles & More Search
This page enables you to search millions of full text articles and other electronic resources available through the Falvey Memorial Library. While it doesn't provide access to everything the library has to offer, it is an excellent starting point for your searches.
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.
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.
Oxford Handbooks Online (selected works)
In-depth, high-level articles by scholars at the top of their field. Blackwell Companions to History Cambridge Histories Online
Cambridge Histories Online brings the familiar and well respected history reference works from Cambridge University Press to your desktop. This new digital collection includes 300 histories published since 1960. Among the titles currently available online are the Cambridge History of the Bible (3 vols.), the Cambridge Ancient History (19 vols.), the Cambridge History of the English Language (6 vols.) and the New Cambridge Modern History (14 vols.) to name but a few. Routledge Companions to History Cambridge Companions Online
Cambridge Companions are a series of authoritative guides, written by leading experts, offering lively, accessible introductions to major writers, artists, philosophers, topics, and periods.