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HIST 193J Seances & Spirits: Science & the Occult in the Long 19th Century: Secondary Sources and Background Reference

Selected reference works

Background or "reference" sources are a great place to start your research. Reference works include bibliographies, scholarly encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, and other sources that provide overviews of topics and suggestions for further reading.

Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History

A scholarly encyclopedia of potentially great use in the early stages of your research project. Each article has a discussion of the literature, including primary sources. A great starting point for finding more sources and arranged into browsable subject areas. Here is a good example of 5 articles returned on the keyword search for the term spiritualism.

Gale in Context: U.S. History

This resource brings together reference articles, along with selected primary and secondary sources for getting started on your research.

Oxford Bibliographies

This is an extensive collection of annotated bibliographies that are keyword searchable and can also be browsed by subject and geographic areas. These bibliographies are a great starting point for finding resources, primary and secondary, for your research topic. A good example is these results from a keyword search on the term mesmerism, which retrieves 30 bibliographic articles and 47 citations. 

Oxford Handbooks Online
Lengthy chapters in the Oxford Handbooks usually provide helpful overviews of scholarly topics and historical literature, along with suggestions for further reading. A number of the handbooks may be helpful depending on your research topic. A general keyword search on the term occult retrieves over 550 articles.

Wiley Online Library

Includes scholarly journal articles and monographs as well as reference works. Often a single chapter or two within a reference work can provide a helpful starting point for research. Thousands of articles in this reference database touch on topics relating to eugenics. Titles include Victorian Psychology and Victorian Science Fiction.

Secondary sources

The following bibliographic databases will be helpful for finding secondary sources, especially scholarly/peer-reviewed journal articles, magazine articles, book reviews, and citations to book chapters and edited collections of books. Please note: the full text of articles will not always be available in these databases. If you see the "YaleLinks" icon instead of a PDF, click on the icon to discover whether we have online access to the article: 

And, don’t forget, Orbis, Books+ and Articles+ are all useful tools for locating secondary sources!

Guides to Historical Research & Writing