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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 498F: Nation and the Geographic Imagination

A course guide.


Encyclopedias attempt to summarize the state of knowledge in a field of inquiry. A good encyclopedia can be a valuable starting point for your research.

Three online reference collections that students often find useful are:

Other encyclopedias that might be useful for research in this class:

Guides & Bibliographies


There are many different kinds of atlases that you might find useful, depending on your topics. Below is a selection. In general, to find historical atlases, a good approach is to search in the Online Catalog using the subject terms "historical geography". For example:

  • Macedonia --Historical geography.
  • Israel --Historical geography.
  • North America --Historical geography.
  • Africa --Historical geography.

Or try subject words "history" and "maps". For example:

  • Middle East --History --Maps.

Not all of the books retrieved will be atlases, but many will be and most at least will include maps.


Alamancs are sources of factual information, typically issued once a year. Some titles have been published for over 100 years, making them valuable sources of historical data as well.

We've also included in this section some of the older encyclopedia sets which, while not almanacs, do share with almanacs the quality of being issued regularly over time (sometimes as often as every year).


Gazeteers are dictionaries of geography, typically organized alphabetically by place name.

The library has thousands of gazetteers, geographical dictionaries, and dictionaries of place names. Listed below are some examples. To find gazetteers for a specific place, search in the Online Catalog using subject terms "gazetteers" or "names, geographical". For example:

  • Europe --Gazetteers.
  • China --Gazetteers.
  • Names, Geographical --Montana
  • Names, Geographical--Namibia.

Travel Writing: Bibliographies, Guides, Encyclopedias