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Renaissance & Reformation Europe

About this page

Background reading is an essential starting point to any research project.  The purpose of background reading is to get an overview of your topic, and to begin to become acquainted with the key terms, names and events associated with your topic.

A good place to begin your background reading is to find and read an article in a subject-specific reference book.  The Berntsen Library collects reference books in both print and online formats.

*Note: Reference books are considered tertiary sources and are not typically referred to or cited in research papers.


Reference books for background reading (in print at the library)

These subject-specific reference books are available at the Berntsen Library.  They are worth a trip to the library in order to get a concise, authoritative overview of your History topic as you begin your research.  Search Library Search, the library's catalog, or browse the 900s section of the Reference collection to find more history reference books.

History E-Reference (online reference books in electronic format)

Search an e-Reference book in order to find a brief, authoritative article on your topic.

You can also search for your topic in Library Search and limit to "Reference Entries" under "Resource Type" to locate online reference articles.


*Gasp!* Why is a library guide telling you to search Wikipedia?  Like other reference sources, you might want to consult Wikipedia for background reading and fact gathering, but do not cite it as a source in your paper.  For this particular class, the real value of Wikipedia is the list of links at the end of the article.  These links will sometimes lead you to digitized collections of primary sources on your topic.