Reference works - like encyclopedia, handbooks, or companions - are often a good place to start your research. Not only will entries give you a broad overview of a subject, they may, depending the depth of the entry, provide some outlines of the academic discussion on the topic and frequently provide a bibliography, which can lead you to more sources. While Wikipedia is fairly accurate and contains citations as well, the encyclopedia listed below and others you can find through the WUSTL Libraries' catalog are written by academic professionals and point to the most important works in the field.
Oxford Companion to United States History - eBook With over 1,400 entries written by some 900 historians and other scholars, it illuminates not only America's political, diplomatic, and military history, but also social, cultural, and intellectual trends; science, technology, and medicine; the arts; and religion. It covers everything from Jamestown and the Puritans to the Human Genome Project and the Internet—from Columbus to Clinton. Written in clear, graceful prose for researchers, browsers, and general readers alike, this is the volume that addresses the totality of the American experience, its triumphs and heroes as well as its tragedies and darker moments.
Women in U.S. History
Encyclopedia of Women in American History examines the unique influence and contributions of women in every era of American history, from the colonial period to the present. It not only covers the issues that have had an impact on women, but also traces the influence of women's achievements on society as a whole. Divided into three chronologically arranged volumes, the set includes historical surveys and thematic essays on central issues and political changes affecting women's lives during each period. These are followed by A-Z entries on significant events and social movements, laws, court cases and more, as well as profiles of notable American women from all walks of life and all fields of endeavor. Primary sources and original documents are included throughout.
Encyclopedia of African American history, 1619-1895 documents the full range of the African American experience during that period—from the arrival of the first slave ship to the death of Frederick Douglass—and shows how all aspects of American culture, history, and national identity have been profoundly influenced by the experience of African Americans.
Encyclopedia of African American history, 1896 to the present traces the transition from the Reconstruction Era to the age of Jim Crow, the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Movement, and the ascendant influence of African Americans on the American cultural landscape. With coverage up to and including the 2008 election of Barack Obama, the Encyclopedia contains approximately 1,200 fully cross-referenced entries all signed by leading scholars and experts, offering the most reliable and extensive treatment to be found on African American history in this era.
Subject Specific Databases
U.S. History - America: History & Life
Business - Business Source Complete
ecomomics EconLit with Full Text
Education - Education Full Text
Film Studies - Film & Television Literature Index
Military - Military & Government Collection
Sociology - SocINDEX with Full Text
Social Sciences - Political Science Database, Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts (ASSIA) and International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, Social Science Database, Sociology, Sociological Abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
Criminal Justice - Criminal Justice Database
Education - Education Database
Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies - GenderWatch
Finding Images - see Art & Architecture Librarian Jennifer Akins' guide