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A Guide to Religious Studies

Reference Works - A Place to Begin

Religion in the United States

Lippy, Charles H. and Williams, Peter W., eds. Encyclopedia of religion in America (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2010)  -  This authoritative reference work explores the origins, development, influence, and interrelations of the many faiths practiced in North America, including major world religions and emerging sects, cults and movements. The work covers the significant denominations and movements that have originated or flourished in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, from the beginning of European settlement to the present. Includes coverage of religious life among indigenous peoples; specific aspects of religious life; and the relationship of religion to the political, social, economic, and cultural spheres.

Melton, J. Gordon. Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions 8th ed. (Detroit: Gale Cengage Learning, 2009) - covers numerous North American religious groups in the U.S. and Canada. Includes essays and directory listings describing the historical development of religious families and providing factual information about each group within those families. Provides, when available, rubrics for membership figures, educational facilities and periodicals.

Other encyclopedias on religion in the United States (e.g., African-Americans, Evangelicals, and Women in U.S. religion)

U.S. cultural and intellectual history

Rubin, Joan Shelley and Casper, Scott E., eds. The Oxford encyclopedia of American cultural and intellectual history (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2013) offers a record of the nation's values, aspirations, anxieties, and beliefs as expressed in both everyday life and formal bodies of thought. The encyclopedia incorporates popular entertainment ranging from minstrel shows to video games, middlebrow ventures like Chautauqua lectures and book clubs, and preoccupations such as "perfectionism" and "wellness" that have shaped Americans' behavior at various points in the past and that continue to influence attitudes in the present. 

U.S. business and labor history

Dubofsky, Melvyn. The Oxford encyclopedia of American business, labor, and economic history (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013) - concepts, institutions and organizations, events, and individuals that have shaped the history of business, labor, and economics from the origins of what later became the United States in an earlier age of globalization and the expansion of capitalism to the present. It includes entries that: explore the changing character of capitalism from the seventeenth century to the present; cover the evolution of business practices and organizations over the same time period; describe changes in the labor force as legally free workers replaced a labor force dominated by slaves and indentures; the means by which workers sought to better their lives, and government policies and practices that affected economic activities, business developments, and the lives of working people.

U.S. social history

Dumenil, Lynn, ed.The Oxford encyclopedia of American social history (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012) - synthesizes the extraordinary wealth of information uncovered by the inquiry into the experiences of ordinary people over the last forty years. The more than 450 entries in this work examine our shared history "from the bottom up." The Encyclopedia expands and updates the coverage of American social history found in The Oxford Companion to United States History.

Judaism -- Encyclopedias

Fred Skolnik & Michael Berenbaum, eds. Encyclopaedia Judaica 2nd ed. (Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA/Keter Publishing, 2007) -  an exhaustive and organized 22-volume overview of Jewish life and knowledge from the Second Temple period to the contemporary State of Israel, from Rabbinic to modern Yiddish literature, from Kabbalah to "Americana" and from Zionism to the contribution of Jews to world cultures.

Eisenberg, Ronald L. The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions 1st ed. (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2004) - a comprehensive and authoritative resource with ready answers to questions about almost all aspects of Jewish life and practice: life-cycle events, holidays, ritual and prayer, Jewish traditions and customs, and more. Ronald Eisenberg has distilled an immense amount of material from classic and contemporary sources into a single volume, which provides thousands of insights into the origins, history, and current interpretations of a wealth of Jewish traditions and customs. Divided into four sections—Synagogue and Prayers, Sabbaths (p125-54) and Festivals, Life-Cycle Events, and Miscellaneous (a large section that includes such diverse topics as Jewish literature, food, and plants and animals)—this is an encyclopedic reference for anyone who wants easily accessible, accurate information about all things Jewish. Eisenberg writes for a wide, diversified audience, and is respectful of the range of practices and beliefs within today's American Jewish community—from Orthodox to liberal.

Islam -- Encyclopedias

The Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden: Brill, 2002-) sets out the present state of our knowledge of the Islamic World and reflects the great diversity of current scholarship. It is a unique and invaluable reference tool, an essential key to understanding the world of Islam, and the authoritative source not only for the religion, but also for the believers and the countries in which they live. The new scope includes comprehensive coverage of Islam in the twentieth century and of Muslim minorities all over the world.

Encyclopaedia Islamica (Leiden: Brill, 2007- ) - is based on the abridged and edited translation of the Persian Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif-i Buzurg-i Islāmī, one of the most comprehensive sources on Islam and the Muslim world. A unique feature of the Encyclopaedia Islamica lies in the attention given to Shiʿi Islam. 

Esposito, John L. ed. The Oxford encyclopedia of the Islamic world (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009) -  a comprehensive encyclopedia dedicated to the institutions, religion, politics, and culture in Muslim societies throughout the world. Offers extensive comparative and systematic analyses of Islamic beliefs, institutions, movements, practices, and peoples on an international scale. The articles range from brief 500-word essays to major interpretive and synthetic treatments of topics such as the Islamic state, pilgrimage, law, marriage, and foreign relations. Related entries cover areas of general interest such as social and political movements, women, Muslim minorities, human rights, Islam in the West, and interreligious affairs.

Leaman, Oliver, ed. The Qurʻan: An encyclopedia (London: Routledge, 2006) - authored by forty-three international experts, the objective is to present this diversity of thought, approach and school without priority, in order to give a strong appreciation of the range of response that the text has provoked throughout its history and providing students and researchers with a powerful one-volume resource covering all aspects of the text and its reception.

Catholicism -- Encyclopedias

New Catholic Encyclopedia 2nd ed. (Detroit, MI: Gale, 2003) - this 15 volume, second edition features revised and new articles. Among the 12,000 entries in the encyclopedia are articles on theology, philosophy, history, literary figures, saints, musicians and much more.

Sikhism -- Encyclopedias

Dogra, R. C. The Sikh world: An encyclopaedic survey of Sikh religion and culture (Delhi: London: UBSPD, 2003) - the author received his MPhil at the University of London, servied as their Librarian of South Asian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies until his retirement, and has written eleven books on many South Asian topics, particularly in the fields of Indology, Sikhism and Bhutan.  

Buddhism -- Encyclopedias

Robert E. Buswell, Jr., ed. Encyclopedia of Buddhism (Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson/Gale, 2004) - the author is the Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies in the UCLA Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. He describes the Buddhist world view, basic teachings and practices of Buddhism, as well as its different schools and sects. In addition to containing entries on Buddhist scriptures, art, architecture, divinities, monastic orders, festivals, rites and ceremonies, this encyclopedia explores the history of Buddhism, the different forms it has taken in different parts of the world, and how Buddhism has blended with other religions.

G. P. Malalasekera, ed. Encyclopaedia of Buddhism (Colombo: Govt. of Ceylon/Sri Lanka, 1961-2010) - The compilation of an Encyclopaedia of Buddhism in the English language was one of the several undertakings of the Buddhist Council of Ceylon and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Cultural Affairs.  

Subject Headings

Economics -- Religious aspects

        "          --              "                   -- [religion name, e.g. "Christianity" or "Islam]

[Religion name] -- economic aspects


Academic Journal Article Databases

Subject-Specific Databases


American Theological Library Association's (ATLA) Religion (EBSCO) - journal, essay, and book review index. Contains thousands of citations from international titles and multi-author works in the field of religion. Other collections within the EBSCO suite include SocINDEX with Full Text and others. 

Political Science

Political Science Database (ProQuest) - full-text of 430 political science and international relations journals, many of which are indexed in Worldwide Political Science Abstracts. Covers the literature of political science and international relations, including such topics as comparative politics, political economy, international development, environmental policy, and hundreds of related topics. Other social science databases within the ProQuest suite include: Social Science Database; Public Affairs Information Service (PAIS); Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts (ASSIA); International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, et. al.

Economics & Business

EconLit with Full Text (1969 - ) contains indexing and abstracts, some full text for 400+ journals. The database provides indexing and full text for articles in all fields of economics, including capital markets, country studies, econometrics, economic forecasting, environmental economics, government regulations, labor economics, monetary theory, urban economics, and much more. Updated monthly.

Business Source Complete (1965-) full text articles from scholarly business journals and other sources, including financial data, books, monographs, major reference works, conference proceedings, case studies, investment research reports, industry reports, market research reports, country reports, company profiles, SWOT analyses and more. Updated daily. 


HeinOnline - more than 900 searchable full-text law journals and many legal resources, including the Code of Federal Regulations, United States Code, and U.S. Statutes at Large. 

Nexis Uni - contains more than 15,000 news, legal and business sources, including journals, television and radio broadcasts, newswires and blogs; local, regional, national and international newspapers with deep archives; extensive legal sources for federal and state cases and statutes, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 1790.


PhilPapers is a comprehensive index and bibliography of philosophy maintained by the community of philosophers. They monitor all sources of research content in philosophy, including journals, books, open access archives, and personal pages maintained by academics. We also host the largest open access archive in philosophy. Their index currently contains 2,713,240 entries categorized in 5,845 categories. PhilPapers has over 310,000 registered users.

Multidisciplinary Databases

JSTOR - a digital library containing digitized archival and current issues of academic journals, eBooks, and other primary sources in the humanities and social sciences. It provides full-text searches of almost 2,000 journals.

Google Scholar - the world's largest, freely accessible web search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of peer-reviewed online academic journals and books, conference papers, theses and dissertations, preprints, abstracts, technical reports, and other scholarly literature, including court opinions and patents across an array of publishing formats and disciplines. 

Primary Sources