World history: Essentials: starting points
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
- Historical Abstracts from EBSCOhostHistorical Abstracts indexes citations, abstracts, and full text from journals, books, and dissertations that cover the history of the world (excluding the United States and Canada) from 1450 to the present, including world history, military history, women's history, history of education, and more. Full text available as HTML and PDF. The database allows limiting results to specific time periods (not just publication dates). You can limit to peer-reviewed sources. 1800s-present.
- History of Science, Technology & Medicine from EBSCOhostThe History of Science, Technology, and Medicine database indexes citations and abstracts of journal articles, conference proceedings, books, dissertations, maps, and other materials on the history of science, medicine, and technology. 1600s-present.
Academic journal archives (could be primary or secondary, depending on use)
- PAO: Periodicals Archive OnlineComplementing the better-known JSTOR with a more international orientation, PAO is a archive of more than 700 periodicals in the humanities and social sciences since their first issues. More than 150 are in languages other than English. Coverage is from volume 1, issue 1 of each journal, and all issues are digitized from cover to cover.
- JSTORan archive of academic journals in the humanities, social science, and sciences, back to their earliest issues. So for some purposes, it is a collection of secondary sources and for others, primary sources.
If you want to do a comprehensive search of the literature on a topic, don't start in JSTOR; use a discipline-specific database instead and/or Humanities & Social Sciences Index Retrospective: 1907-1984, a simple but historically deep index of academic articles that includes historical headings mapped to current ones:
- Although a few journals in JSTOR include content up to the current issue, in most cases the latest content in JSTOR will be at least two years old.
- While JSTOR journals are among the most reputable in their subject areas, not all subject areas are included.
- JSTOR articles are presented as they were originally published: they will include terms and information that today could be regarded as inappropriate, incomplete, or worse. But if you want to know what scholars in, say, the 1930s said about controversial topics like race, some religious traditions, gender and sexuality, or mental or physical impairments, you will need to use search terms that match those of that time, even though they may offend you deeply.
- HeinOnline Law Journal LibraryIn addition to its library of legal scholarship on all topics, Hein offers large and wide-ranging collections of historical and contemporary primary sources in public law, including legal and administrative codes, treaties, constitutions, organized thematically and by source.
Indexes to popular and specialist literatures
- C19: The Nineteenth Century Index: Periodicals (from ProQuest)C19 will shift to the more robust ProQuest platform in late 2022. Portal to citations in American and British periodical indexes from the "long" 19th century. Search individually or cross-search with several governmental and book indexes. Tech won't necessarily have online or physical access to every indexed item.
Currently on Chadwyck-Healey platform: linking to full-text can be flaky, even to other ProQuest databases; you may want to use the bibliographic information to search Discovery Search by author names or article titles to find in full-text online and/or by publication title for our print or microform holdings of the periodical.
- Readers' Guide Retrospective: 1890-1982 from EBSCOhostReader's Guide Retrospective indexes citations to articles published in popular magazines and newspapers published in the United States.
- Book Review Digest Retrospective from EBSCOhostCollecting nearly eight decades of H.W. Wilson's Book Review Digest, this archive database provides over a million book review citations from 1903 to 1982. It covers adult and juvenile fiction and nonfiction and provides at least one review excerpt per book.
- Humanities & Social Sciences Index Retrospective: 1907-1984 from EBSCOhost Humanities & Social Science Index Retrospective offers the ability to search a wide range of important journals in the humanities and social sciences as far back as 1907. Coverage also includes content from H.W. Wilson’s International Index.1907-1984.
- Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective: 1908-1981 from EBSCOhost The Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective indexes citations to articles and summaries in annual surveys of laws and courts, legal journals, and legal yearbooks. 1908-1981.
Background: overviews and themes in world history
- Gale EbooksGale Ebooks is a collection of searchable ebook reference works, formerly known as Gale Virtual Reference Library. You can search within a particular work or across the entire collection. Individual articles from these sources are presented in HTML and PDF. Illustrations, photos, maps, and multimedia content is often included.
- World History in Context from GaleGale In Context: World History provides curated topic pages with academic journal articles, primary sources, reference works, news sources, multimedia, and biographies on people, countries and cultures, conflicts, organizations, religions, events, periods, and economics. Talk to your instructors about whether using materials from pre-selected sources in this database is acceptable under the Honor Code.
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.
Trials are listed in a sidebar in the main Databases A-Z directory.
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 trials and user survey links 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
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.
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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)
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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.