World history: Essentials: starting points

What's here

This guide focuses on principal research resources in a subfield of history, supplementing the main subject guide for the field and the comprehensive guide to online primary historical sources.

This landing page is organized into these sections: Indexes to scholarly historical literature; full-text journal archives; and Indexes to popular periodicals; background and reference sources; contact information for the history librarian; and tabs identifying addition information.

It identifies selected Primary sources online and reproduces portions of Bruce Pencek's other subject guides: Area studies & comparative politics; Advice for searching/citing/engaging scholarly literatures; and Accessing VT Libraries' resources from off campus.

World history brings a global perspective to the study of historical events anywhere, but information resources tend to treat world history as a catch-all, geographically as history of everywhere-outside-North-America and chronologically as beginning in the European Renaissance. For earlier periods, see the Classical studies and Medieval and early modern studies subject guides.  For prehistory and archaeology, see the guide for anthropology.

Finding the scholarly literature and sources

Academic journal archives (could be primary or secondary, depending on use)

Indexes to popular and specialist literatures

Background: overviews and themes in world history

Temporary, trial access only -- use while you can

The University Libraries at Virginia Tech regularly secure short-term, trial access to online resources in order to gauge their appropriateness to our university's teaching and research missions. These trials run in October, February, and sometimes April.  Most trials run 30 days.

This box highlights some of these opportunities. All active trials are listed in a sidebar in the main Databases A-Z directory and as a tab atop this libguide. 

Each entry includes a link to a user survey. I and other subject librarians invite you to email us your detailed assessments of resources. Responses from the Virginia Tech community are vital to the library's deliberations about whether and when to acquire or enhance databases and the like.

As appropriate I will list all currently active trials and user survey links in a resource trials tab in this and my other libguides.  Entries for trials I may include in the body of my libguides will go away when the trial period ends.

Social Sciences & History Librarian

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Bruce Pencek
Newman Library (MC 0434)
Office #3050
560 Drillfield Dr
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Email is the best way to contact me with questions or appointment requests.

Office hours (walk-in and/or Zoom): T 1-3:00 pm, W-Th 2-4:00 pm (Eastern time), and by appointment.
(540) 231-2140

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Interlibrary Loan Services

All current Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff, regardless of your location, may request through ILLiad for materials:

  • not owned by Virginia Tech (books, articles from journals and conference proceedings, book chapters, standards, and technical papers)
  • owned by Virginia Tech but are unavailable for use (print books)
  • owned by Virginia Tech and available in print (scans of articles from journals and conference proceedings, book chapters, standards, and technical papers)

We ship requests via UPS to users outside the immediate Blacksburg area (Montgomery, Giles and Pulaski counties).

Articles, book chapters, and many technical papers are delivered in PDF format to your ILLiad account. Occasionally, due to copyright restrictions, a paper copy of an article or standard is held for your at the Newman User Services Desk or sent o the mailing address listed on your account.