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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 498D: The Racial Dimensions of Medicine and Public Health

Research Guides

Reference works such as encyclopedias, research guides, and bibliographies are an excellent way to find background information and to get an overview of the current scholarship about a topic. (Because of this, they can also help you identify dominant historical narratives.)

Annotated bibliographies can save you from endless hours of searching: they offer a curated selection of recent or important scholarship on a topic.

Library research guides, created by subject specialists at the U of I Library, can help you locate primary and secondary sources for your research project:

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

You are using an encyclopedia every time your Google search takes you to a Wikipedia article. Wikipedia is an online, crowdsourced encyclopedia. 

Encyclopedia entries summarize the established state of knowledge in a field of inquiry. An encyclopedia entry can be a useful digest of the secondary sources on a topic, but rarely reflects the most recent developments in scholarship. Wikipedia is updated much more frequently than traditional encyclopedias, but still follows the model of trying to present the current, established scholarly opinion on a topic, rather than new research or new approaches. 

Four online reference collections (dictionaries and encyclopedias) that you may find useful are:

Additional encyclopedias that would be specifically relevant for research in this course:

Biographical Information

Indexes to Biography

These databases identify biographical information published in periodicals, books, and encyclopedias.

Encyclopedias of Biographical Information

Like the encyclopedias described above, these encyclopedias summarize what is known about a person, in shorter, article-length entries.


For help finding statistics and other kinds of data, contact Carissa Phillips in the Scholarly Commons. Below are some standard reference sources for locating statistics.