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HIST S431 Yale Summer History Lab: Primary and Secondary Sources and Background Reference

These databases are licensed by the Yale Library for your use and require you to be on the Yale campus or authenticated to the Yale network via CAS or VPN. This guide provides more information about off-campus access to licensed database resources.

The Yale Daily News Historical Archive provides keyword-searchable access to issues of the daily (during the academic term only) Yale student newspaper dating from it's founding (January 28, 1878, the oldest college daily newspaper published in the United States) through the 1994-1995 school year. The Historical Archive is freely available to the public and does not require Yale network authentication.

Selected reference works

Background or "reference" sources are a great place to start your research. They are also incredibly useful for gleaning background information to use in situating your biography subject in a time period or events with which you aren't familiar. 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.

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. 

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. 

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. Titles include A Companion to the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and A Companion to Post-1945 America.

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

Primary sources: Newspapers and Periodicals

Primary sources: Digital Archives