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A Guide to World History

Required Texts

Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History - print or eBook (single-user only; please log out when finished); also available in print through MOBIUS; St. Louis Public Library (SLPL) has copies in print, eBook, Book CD, and streaming audio; the Municipal Library Consortium of St. Louis County has it in multiple formats as well.

Sven Beckert and Christine Desan eds., American Capitalism: New Histories - print and eBook; SLPL has it as an eBook (through Hoopla, so a different format than EBSCO).

Seth Rockman, Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore (John Hopkins University Press, 2009) - WUSTL eBookWUSTL print ed; 2 MOBIUS copies; 1 copy at SLPL

Zieger, Robert H. For Jobs and Freedom: Race and Labor in America since 1865 – WUSTL print and eBook

Zelin, Madeleine. 2005. The Merchants of Zigong: Industrial entrepreneurship in early modern China (New York: Columbia University Press) – WUSTL print ed.; 3 copies available through MOBIUS 

Kindleberger, Charles. The World in Depression: 1929-1939 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978) – WUSTL 1973 print ed.WUSTL 1986 revised & enlarged ed.; MOBIUS 2013 40th anniv. ed.; MOBIUS 1986 ed. (lots of copies); SLPL 

Steven Bryan, The Gold Standard at the Turn of the Twentieth CenturyWUSTL eBook  

Nkrumah, Kwame. (1965). Neo-colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism – WUSTL (2 copies); MOBIUS (6 copies); SLPL

Marc Levinson, The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy BiggerWUSTL print; WUSTL unlimited access eBook ed.

Andreas Malm, Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming WUSTL print; single-user eBook ed.; 2 MOBIUS copies; SLPL streaming audiobook

Jason W. Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital – WUSTL print and eBook; MOBIUS print ed.

Adam Tooze, Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the WorldWUSTL print ed.eBook single-user

Quinn Slobodian, Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of NeoliberalismWUSTL print ed.; eBook (3-user at-a-time)

David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism - WUSTL eBook and print; 2005 ed.

Ching Kwan Lee, The Specter of Global China: Politics, labor, and foreign investment in Africa - WUSTL eBook and print

Reference Works - A Place to Begin

Things Oxford

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History (2005) - international in scope and spanning all time periods of human history, The OEEH includes 900 original articles by noted scholars from more than thirty-five countries. Articles range from 500-word entries on inventors, theoreticians, and industry leaders to overarching, 8,000-word essays on markets, industries, and labor. With coverage ranging from accounting and advertising to zoning and zoos, this landmark works stands at the busy intersection of history and the social sciences. The general conceptual categories of the work are: Geography (entries on cities, countries, and regions); Agriculture; Production Systems, Business History, and Technology; Demography; Institutions, Governments, and Markets; Macroeconomic History and International Economics; Money, Banking and Finance; Labor; Natural Resources and the Environment; and Biographies.

Oxford Bibliographies -  contains annotated bibliographies authored by subject specialists on a variety of academic topics. Written and reviewed by experts, every article in this database is an authoritative guide to the current scholarship, containing original commentary and annotations. Subject areas include: African American Studies, American Literature, Anthropology, Art History, Atlantic History, Biblical Studies, British and Irish Literature, Cinema and Media Studies, Classics, Evolutionary Biology, Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, Latin American Studies, Linguistics, Literary and Critical Theory, Medieval Studies, Philosophy, Psychology, Renaissance and Reformation, Social Work, Sociology, and Victorian Literature.

Oxford Research Encyclopedias - new comprehensive collections of in-depth, peer-reviewed summaries on an ever-growing range of topics (African History, Economics and Finance, Literature, American History, Education, Natural Hazard Science, Asian History, Social Work, Neuroscience, Business and Management, Environmental Science, Oxford Classical Dictionary, Climate Science, International Studies, Politics, Communication, Latin American History, Psychology, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Linguistics, and Religion).

The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World - provides information about major world developments from 1750 to the present, with close attention to social, economic, cultural, and political topics: world events; countries; organizations; regions; ethnic groups; and themes such as social history, demography, family life, politics, economics, religion, thought, education, science and technology, and culture.

Other reference works

Encyclopedia of the Global Economy: A guide for students and researchers (2006) - volume 1 features over 150 entries; topical coverage includes international trade, foreign investment, transnational corporations, and economic and human development, highlighting such contemporary issues as offshore outsourcing, corporate social responsibility, child labor, sustainable consumption, and the digital divide. This volume also includes profiles of prominent economists, business leaders, and policymakers who have contributed to our understanding of globalization, as well as organizations, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, that work to promote it. Volume 2 includes a wide array of primary documents, a data bank of world statistics on demographic and economic trends, and print and Internet resources for further research. Each document is introduced with an explanation of its context and linked to related articles in Volume 1. Examples include the text of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), reports on environmental degradation and poverty reduction from the United Nations, and dozens of tables and graphs reflecting international investment, business activity, productivity, labor, and socioeconomic conditions around the world. 

Early Modern Europe

Encyclopedia of Early Modern History - online English version of the Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit, a fifteen-volume reference work published in print between 2005 and 2012. Over 4000 entries offer a multi-faceted view on the decisive era in European history stretching roughly from 1450 to 1850. The perspective of this work is European, with extensive attention given to the interaction between European and other cultures.

Encyclopedia of the Atlantic World, 1400-1900 "synthesizes a generation of historical scholarship on the events on four continents, providing readers an invaluable introduction to the major people, places, events, movements, objects, concepts, and commodities of the Atlantic world as it developed during a key period in history when the world first started to shrink. The entries discuss specific topics with an eye toward showing how individual items, people, and events were connected to the larger Atlantic world. This accessibly written reference book brings together topics usually treated separately and discretely, alleviating the need for extra legwork when researching, and it draws from the latest research to make a vast body of scholarship about seemingly far-flung places available to readers new to the field." - Publisher's description

The Princeton Companion to Atlantic History "125 entries--all specially commissioned for this volume from an international team of leading scholars--synthesize the latest scholarship on central themes, including economics, migration, politics, war, technologies and science, the physical environment, family networks, canon law, and utopias." -- Publisher's description. 

Europe 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the early modern world (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, c2004) - 6 vols., 1,082 articles, written by eminent scholars, cover major topics in art, government and education as well as providing biographical entries on key figures of the period. 

Encyclopedia of European Social History from 1350 to 2000 (Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001) - 3 vol. print or eBook; "Covering the period from the beginning of the Renaissance to the present, this encyclopedia consists of 209 signed articles and nearly 300 biographical entries. The set is thoroughly indexed, amply illustrated, and a joy to read. Graduate students will find it useful as an introduction to historiography while advanced high school students will enjoy the articles on historical topics."--"Outstanding Reference Sources," American Libraries, May 2001.


The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) - eBook

Encyclopedia of Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010-) - eBook

Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa: Archaeology, history, languages, cultures, and environments (Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, c1997) – print

New Encyclopedia of Africa (Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2008) - print


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

Historical Dictionary of European Imperialism (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991) - print

The British Empire: An Encyclopedia of the Crown's Holdings, 1493 through 1995 -  a print resource; entries include beginning and end dates, location, brief history, and lists of colonial authorities (governors, ministers, etc.)

Latin America

Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary view of Latin American history and culture from prehistoric times to the present. Covers cultural issues and includes numerous biographical profiles of important figures in politics, letters and the arts.


Berkshire Encyclopedia of China: Modern and Historic Views...(2009) - provides insight into Chinese history and culture today in nearly a thousand articles that include everything from "Adoption" and "Banking" to "Wound Literature" and the "Zhou Dynasty." 

MENA (Middle East/North Africa)

Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa - the set covers the modern history of the Middle East and North Africa, with major sections on colonialism and imperialism, the world wars, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the United Nations involvement in the region.


Reference works in Economics

Academic Journal Article Databases

World History

Historical Abstracts (1955- ) contents include world history journals from 1450 to the present

American History

America: History & Life - A complete bibliographic reference to the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present. Published since 1964, the database comprises almost 400,000 bibliographic entries. 


EconLit with Full Text (1969 - ) indexing & abstracts and some full text for 400+ journals

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.


JSTOR - multidisciplinary, a lot of full text articles, but subject headings are too broad

Academic Search Complete (1975-present) - multidisciplinary; subject headings may or may not be LCSH; made by EBSCO, so allows the broadening to all EBSCO databases or narrowing to subject-specific databases like America: HIstory & Life


JSTOR v. Academic Search Complete


Project MUSE - consists of peer reviewed, interdisciplinary journals from leading university presses, not-for-profit publishers and prestigious scholarly societies.

Scopus - The world’s largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature. Contains over 46 million records, 70% with abstracts, and also includes over 4.6 million conference papers.

Google Scholar - articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web. While Google Scholar itself is free on the web, many of the citations it references are not. Accessing Google Scholar via the proxied link will enable you to get full text for all articles for which to WashU community has access  

Primo - is the Washington University Libraries' new search tool. It provides one-stop access to the Libraries’ collections by searching across hundreds of catalogs, indexes, and databases. Primo is a great place to begin your research because it searches multiple library resources through one interface.


Google Scholar v. Primo

Business Library Databases

59 databases including the International Directory of Company Histories.

Primary Sources - Electronic Archives

Newspapers / Early colonial print

Nineteenth Century U. S. Newspapers (1800 - 1900) digital facsimile images of both full pages and clipped articles for hundreds of 19th century U.S. newspapers. For each issue, the newspaper is captured from cover-to-cover, providing access to every article, advertisement and illustration.

Early American Imprints, Series I: (1639-1800) the definitive resource for researching 17th- and 18th-century America. The digital collection contains virtually every book, pamphlet and broadside published in America over a 160-year period

Early American Imprints, Series II: (1801-1819) a comprehensive set of American books, pamphlets and broadsides published in the early part of the 19th century

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. Over 6 million pages from 29,000 works.

Gale NewsVault the definitive cross-searching experience for exploring Gale's range of historical newspaper collections. Users can simultaneously search or browse across newpaper archives from the 17th to 19th centuries

International Women's Periodicals, 1786-1933 historical women’s periodicals provide an important resource to scholars interested in the lives of women, the role of women in society and, in particular, the development of the public lives of women as the push for women’s rights—woman suffrage, fair pay, better working conditions, for example—grew in the United States and England. Some of the titles in this collection were conceived and published by men, for women; others, conceived and published by male editors with strong input from female assistant editors or managers; others were conceived and published by women, for women. The strongest suffrage and anti-suffrage writing was done by women for women’s periodicals. Thus a variety of viewpoints are here presented for study.

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.

American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection the AAS Historical Periodicals Collection contains more than 6,500 historical periodical titles. The collection represents over two centuries of print culture, ranging from early works imported by the colonists to later titles published on American soil on the eve of the Revolution and during the early republic. Subjects covered in the collection reach into every facet of American life, including science, literature, medicine, agriculture, women's fashion, family life, and religion. The five series can be searched simultaneously or individually. Series 1 covers 1691 through 1820.

American Denominational Newspapers historical newspapers covering religious news, and the role religion played in American life and society. Supports research of early American history, religious history, ethnic studies, abolitionism, Civil War, and gender studies. Contains more than 320 rare newspapers from over 30 states published between 1799 and 1900.

Eighteenth Century Journals II rare British newspapers and periodicals from 1699-1812

American Periodicals (1740 - 1940) full-text periodicals published between 1740 and 1940, including special interest and general magazines, literary and professional journals, children's and women's magazines and many other historically-significant periodicals

Chronicling America (open access) - contains smaller circulation and smaller market digitized U.S. newspapers, representing 801 titles from 32 states; though the project initially targeted newspapers from the 1900-1910 period, it has gradually expanded so that papers scanned currently span the years 1777-1963. (SLPL) an extensive online database of historical newspapers from the early 1700s into the early 2000s. It contains a diverse blend of well-known regional and local newspapers in the US and other countries

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) books and other materials published between 1701 and 1800 in the United Kingdom and the Americas.

The Making of the Modern World Presents more than 61,000 books from the period 1460-1850, and 466 pre-1906 serials.

Colonial Trade 
Indian Trade in the Southeastern Spanish Borderlands comprising the papers of the Panton, Leslie & Co., a trading firm, established in British East Florida during the American Revolution. When Spain won title to both East and West Florida in 1783, the company was granted a virtual monopoly. For many years Panton, Leslie & Company dominated trade with the Creeks and Seminoles. They eventually captured much of the trade with the Choctaws and Chickasaws, and were important in the trade with the Cherokees.

Virginia Company Archives documents the founding and economic development of Virginia as seen through the papers of the Virginia Company of London, 1606-1624.

American Fur Company - the papers include original letters received from factors, foreign and domestic agents, mainly to Ramsey Crooks, president of the Company; copies of letters sent by the Company; records of furs received from the Indians, and orders for goods to be shipped to the factors in exchange for furs.

Law & Governance
Making of Modern Law: Foreign, Comparative and International Law, 1600-1926 the Making of Modern Law provides historical resources previously found in repositories. It gives libraries online access to foreign and international legal literature. FCIL includes pre-1926 treatises and similar monographs, sourced from the collections of the Yale, George Washington University, and Columbia law libraries, in the following areas: International Law; Comparative Law; Foreign Law and others.

Making of Modern Law: Trials, 1600-1926 based on holdings of the law libraries of Harvard and Yale, and the Library of the Bar of the City of New York, the product offers online access to these important collections.

U. K. Parliamentary Papers includes Bills and Acts, Command Papers, Commons and Lords Papers, Journals, and Debates from the 18th century through 2005.

Actes Royaux Francais, 1256 – 1794 approximately 16,000 pamphlets covering this important period in French history are available in this collection. One of the largest collections of its kind, it offers a wealth of information on the legislative history and governance of France, as well as other aspects of French life.

Empire Online digital collection of manuscripts and printed material, 1492-1962. The main document types in the resource are: exploration journals and logs; letter books and correspondence; periodicals; official government papers; missionary papers; travel writing; slave papers; memoirs; fiction; children’s adventure stories; traditional folk tales; exhibition catalogues and guides; maps, and marketing posters.

India, Raj and Empire sourced from the Manuscript Collections of the National Library of Scotland, and documenting the history of South Asia from the foundation of the East India Company in 1615 to the granting of independence to India and Pakistan in 1947.
Governing Africa this electronic archive includes 13 collections, 131 volumes, 2,680 documents and 1,105,477 pages in the form of reports to the British government by their governors in the African colonies. The statistical reports cover 13 colonies, with some data that pre-dates the abolition of the slave trade. These reports reveal how colonial laws were used to control citizens during wars, uprisings, and everyday life, and notices of land sales reveal how land changed hands between 1808 and 1966. The colonial reports for each colony explain how the statistics in the Blue Books were intended to be interpreted by colonial readers.

South Asia Open Archives includes more than 350,000 pages of content, and will continue to grow. It includes important Colonial-era administrative and trade reports and newspapers dealing with themes of caste and social structure, social and economic history, women and gender, and more. 

Et cetera

Electronic Enlightenment the most wide-ranging online collection of edited correspondence of the early modern period, linking people across Europe, the Americas and Asia from the early 17th to the mid-19th century — reconstructing one of the world's great historical "conversations."

Brazilian and Portuguese History and Culture: The Oliveira Lima Library contains the rare and unique pamphlets from the personal library of the Brazilian diplomat, historian, and journalist Manoel de Oliveira Lima. Database allows users to visualize results and term frequencies over time and to limit their search by dates, illustration types, and languages.

Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture (1790-1920) contains over 2 million pages from manuscripts, books, broadsheets, and periodicals, reflecting the widespread impact of the changes in crime and its policing during the long nineteenth century. The archive unites a number of geographic areas and disciplines, from law, criminology, and history to studies of popular culture and fiction.

International Historical Statistics - a collection of statistical data from around the world, collected between 1750-2010 and covering a wide range of socio-economic topics. The collection includes data on the Americas and Europe, but also hard-to-find data on Africa, Asia and Oceania.

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

Biodiversity Heritage Library - A consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize and make accessible the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections and to make that literature available for open access and responsible use as a part of a global “biodiversity commons.” BHL also serves as the foundational literature component of the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL).

Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 - 79 document projects with more than 2,400 documents, 32,000 pages of additional full-text documents, and 1,700 primary authors. It includes as well book, film and website reviews, notes from the archives, and teaching tools.

Latin American Travelogues The goal of this project is to create a digital collection of Latin American travel accounts written in the 16th-19th centuries at Brown University. Digitized books are linked to essays written by undergraduate students. Select a book chapter of interest as a primary source.