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A Guide to World History

Reference Works - A Place to Begin

Oxford Bibliographies combines the best features of an annotated bibliography and a high-level encyclopedia to guide researchers to the best available scholarship in relevant subject areas such as Latin American Studies, African American Studies, Atlantic History, etc. Each article includes an introduction written by a top scholar in the field. Also includes expert recommendations on the best works available in each discipline – whether it be a chapter, a book, a journal article, a website, an archive, or data set – to streamline the research process. 

Oxford Research Encyclopedia offers long-form overview articles written, peer-reviewed, and edited by leading scholars. This source is regularly updated

Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture 2nd ed. (Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2008)

The Encyclopedia of Caribbean Religions (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013)

Encyclopedia of Cuba: People, history, culture (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2003)

Puerto Rico Past and Present: An encyclopedia 2nd ed. (Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood/ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2015) 

Colonial Wars of North America, 1512-1763: An encyclopedia (New York: Garland, 1996)

Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism since 1450 (Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007)


and Historical Dictionaries for 19 Latin American nations


Book Searching - Keywords & Subject Headings

A keyword search ("Word(s)") in the Washington University Libraries' catalog is similar to a search in any Web-based search engine in that the words you enter could be anywhere in the Web page. For a Web page writ large, this means in the metadata or the text. For a catalog record, your keyword(s) could be in the title, subject, chapter titles, contents, summary, etc.). If you do not know the Library of Congress Subject Heading (LCSH) for the topic you are researching, then a keyword search is a good way to start. However, if you want to find EVERYTHING the library owns on a subject, you will want to discover the proper subject headings and peruse the available titles therein. When you see a title and say to yourself: "Hey, that sounds exactly like what I'm looking for!," click on that item record, then click on the LCSH (labelled as "Subject(s)")for all titles in the library under that subject heading. Keep in mind that the process of creating and assigning subject headings is a human endeavor and prone to error; some subject headings may seem redundant, but a title assigned to one may not be assigned to what appears to be the exact same subject matter. 

Caribbean Area -- History

Africa -- Relations -- America
America -- Relations -- Africa
Slavery -- Caribbean Area -- History

Whites -- West Indies -- History
Whites -- West Indies -- Ethnic identity
Social classes -- West Indies -- History
Plantations -- Jamaica -- History

Peasants -- Jamaica -- History
Indigenous peoples -- Jamaica -- History
Capitalism -- Jamaica -- History
Slavery -- Jamaica -- History

Indentured servants -- Guyana -- History -- 20th century
Women slaves -- Guyana -- History -- 20th century
Women, East Indian -- Guyana -- Social conditions -- 20th century

Jamaica -- Civilization -- African influences
Social classes -- Jamaica
Jamaica -- Social life and customs
Politics and culture -- Jamaica
Social conflict -- Jamaica -- History
Nationalism -- Jamaica -- History

Jamaica -- Social conditions -- History
Creoles -- Jamaica
Jamaica -- Civilization -- British influences

Garvey, Marcus, 1887-1940
Universal Negro Improvement Association

Sociologists -- Jamaica -- Biography
Sociologists -- Great Britain -- Biography
Jamaicans -- Great Britain -- Biography

Rastafari movement
Blacks -- Migrations

Jamaica -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century
Race discrimination -- Jamaica -- History -- 20th century
Jamaica -- Politics and government -- 20th century
Jamaica -- Ethnic relations

Prime ministers' spouses -- Biography.
Jamaica -- Politics and government -- 1962-
Jamaica -- Social life and customs -- 20th century

African Americans -- Suffrage
Black power -- Jamaica
Jamaica -- Race relations

Academic Journal Article Databases

Subject-specific eJournal collections

Historical Abstracts (1955- ) covers world history from 1450 to the present (excluding the US and Canada, which are covered in America: History and Life). Currently over 2,000 international journals are covered.

Hispanic American Periodicals Index (HAPI) indexes article citations about Central and South America, Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean basin, the United States-Mexico border region, and Hispanics/Latinos in the United States. Analyses of current political, economic, and social issues as well as unique coverage of Latin American arts and letters.

Multidisciplinary Academic Journal databases

Google Scholar vs. Primo

JSTOR vs. Academic Search Complete

Primary Sources


Caribbean Newspapers 1718-1876 - the largest online collection of 18th- and 19th-century newspapers published in this region—will provide a comprehensive primary resource for studying the development of Western society and international relations within this important group of islands. This unique resource will prove essential for researching colonial history, the Atlantic slave trade, international commerce, New World slavery and U.S. relations with the region as far back as the early 18th century

Latin American Newspapers (1822-1922) - Over 80 fully searchable newspapers published in the 19th and 20th centuries from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, and elsewhere.

Ethnic Newswatch - full-text newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic and minority press from 1959-1989. Together these resources presentan unmatched, comprehensive, full-text collection of more than 2.5 million articles from over 340 publications

Hispanic American Periodicals Index (HAPI) (1970-) Article citations about Central and South America, Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean basin, the United States-Mexico border region, and Hispanics/Latinos in the United States. Analyses of current political, economic, and social issues as well as unique coverage of Latin American arts and letters.

U.S. International Relations & Other U.S. Government Documents 

Foreign Relations Between Latin American and the Caribbean States, 1930-1944 - This collection includes U.S. State Department documents on matters pertaining to political relations between states, including diplomatic and consular representation and bilateral treaties, conventions, and agreements. It sheds light on the foreign relations between the United States and Central and South American countries. Argentine Republic, Bolivia, Brazil, Central America, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, and the West Indian Republics. are represented. This collection includes cables, memoranda, correspondence, reports and analyzes, and treaties.

De-Classified Documents Reference System (DDRS) - Selected previously classified government documents ranging from the years immediately following World War II, when declassified documents were first made widely available, through the 1970s. Search by name, date, word, or phrase, or focus on document type, issue date, source institution, classification level, date declassified, sanitization, completeness, number of pages, and document number. Nearly every major foreign and domestic event of these years is covered: the Cold War, Vietnam, foreign policy shifts, the civil rights movement, and others.

Liberation Movement in Africa and African America - Composed of FBI surveillance files on the activities of the African Liberation Support Committee and All African People’s Revolutionary Party; this collection provides two unique views on African American support for liberation struggles in Africa, the issue of Pan-Africanism, and the role of African independence movements as political leverage for domestic Black struggles.

Federal Surveillance of the Partido Independentista Puertorriqueno - This collection highlights the FBI’s efforts to disrupt the activities of the largest of the Puerto Rican independence parties, Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño, and compromise their effectiveness. In addition, these documents provide an insightful documentary history and analysis of why independence was the second-largest political movement in the island, (after support for commonwealth status), and a real alternative. These documents provide invaluable additions to the recorded history of Puerto Rico.


Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive - Scholarly study and understanding of slavery from a multinational perspective. 

Black Abolitionist Papers covering the period 1830-1865, the collection presents the massive, international impact of African American activism against slavery, in the writings and publications of the activists themselves. The approximately 15,000 articles, documents, correspondence, proceedings, manuscripts, and literary works of almost 300 Black abolitionists show the full range of their activities in the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Germany.

Sabin Americana - Works about the Americas published throughout the world from 1500 to the early 1900's. Included are books, pamphlets, serials and other documents that provide original accounts of exploration, trade, colonialism, slavery and abolition, the western movement, Native Americans, military actions and much more.

World Scholar Historical Archive: Latin America - Full text, searchable access to primary (and secondary) source documents about Latin America and the Caribbean. The scope ranges from the colonial period to the present and includes monographs, manuscripts, pamphlets, letters, expedition records, journals, periodicals, reports, maps, diaries, descriptions of voyages, newspaper accounts, news feeds, audio and video, and more

Feminism in Cuba: Nineteenth through Twentieth Century Archival Documents - This collection, compiled from Cuban sources, spans the period from Cuban independence to the end of the Batista regime. The collection sheds light on: Cuban feminism; women in politics; literature by Cuban women; and the legal status of Cuban women. Learn more about this database

European Views of the Americas: 1493 to 1750 - A comprehensive guide to printed records about the Americas written in Europe before 1750

Making of the Modern World: The Goldsmiths'-Kress Library of Economic Literature (1450 - 1945) Full-text and full-page-image access to books from 1450-1945, and pre-1906 serials. It focuses on economics interpreted in the widest sense, including political science, history, sociology, and special collections on banking, finance, transportation and manufacturing.

Communism & Socialism

World Communism: Pamphlets from McMaster University - This collection contains un-catalogued pamphlets pertaining to communism, socialism, and class struggle. The pamphlets are global in scope, although they are all in English unless otherwise noted. The bulk of the collection originates from China and Soviet Russia during the post-WWII period, although Cuba and Britain are strongly represented as well.

Socialism on Film: The Cold War and International Propaganda, Module 1: Wars & Revolutions - Sourced from the British Film Institute (BFI) archives, Socialism on Film documents the communist world from the Russian Revolution until the 1980s. All the films in this collection have been digitized from the original 16mm and 35mm film reels. The films cover all aspects of socialist life from society, war, culture, the Cold War, memory and contemporaneous views on current affairs. Footage includes documentaries, newsreels and feature films. Geographically the films deal with the Soviet Union alongside significant groupings of material on Vietnam, China, Korea, the German Democratic Republic and Eastern Europe, Britain, Spain, Latin America and Cuba.