Useful Reference Books for Background and Context
- . . . On American Literature
- American Writers
This series gives lengthy analyses of the life and work of major American writers, arranged chronologically and with an alphabetical index. There are similar series for British writers (Ref PR 85 .B688), Latin American writers (Ref PQ 7081 .A1 L37 1989), Ancient writers: Greece and Rome (Ref PA 3002 .A5 1982) and European writers (Ref PN 43 .B65 1981) put out by the same publisher.
Location(s): Ref PS 129 .A55 (4 vols. + supp.)
- American Nature Writers
Offers lengthy biocritical sketches on writers from Edward Abbey to Ann Zwinger. The second volume also contains essays on topics such as African American nature writing, nature poetry, and the literature of mountaineering. Lengthy selective bibliographies are included.
Location(s): Ref PS 163 .A6 1996
- Dictionary of Literary Biography
This set provides lengthy articles of biographical information and some critical appraisal of literary works. The volumes are arranged thematically, with a cumulative index in the last volume. Though emphasis is on American and British literary authors, there is some coverage of journalists, historians, and critics, as well as writers from other countries.
Location(s): Ref PS 221 .A5
- Columbia Literary History of the United States
The most recent in a series of standard literary histories, this work emphasizes contemporary approaches to literature and the rediscovery of literatures previously marginalized. Arrangement is thematic and chronological.
Location(s): Ref PS 92.C64 1987
- . . . On American History and Culture
- Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History
Provides in-depth articles on American thought and culture. Topics covered include historical approaches, cultural groups, major cultural regions, and political thought.
Location(s): Ref E 169 .E624 2001 (3 vols.)
- Encyclopedia of American Social History
Filling in the holes left in conventional political/biographical history sources, this set covers topics such as religion, class, gender, race, popular culture, regionalism, and everyday life from pre-Columbian to modern times in lengthy and well-documented articles.
Location(s): Ref HN 57 .E58 1993 (3 vols.)
- Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century
Covers major ideas and issues in American social, political, and military history with articles as specific as "The Chinese Exclusion Act" and as broad as "Domestic Life."
Location(s): Ref E 169.1 .E626 2001 (3 vols.)
Finding Books and Articles
- Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism
Offers short essays on the major philosophical concepts, antecedents, genres, institutions, movements, periodicals, events, and places associated with Transcendentalism. Topics such as nature, orientalism, landscape aesthetics, and conversation are among the 145 topics covered. See also the Biographical Dictionary of Transcendentalism, shelved under Ref B905 .B56 1996.
Location(s): Ref PS 217 .T7 E53 1996
- MLA International Bibliography
The major research resource for information on English literature, foreign languages and linguistics. Includes references to scholarly articles, books, book chapters, book reviews, and dissertations from 1963 to the present.
- America: History and Life
Indexes literature related to the history of the United States and Canada from prehistorical times to the present. The emphasis is on history rather than on literary criticism.
This resource is popular among students because the articles included are scholarly and in full text. However, current issues of the journals are not included and, because it is a historical archive, many of the articles are dated and do not reflect current critical approaches. You can resort your results to show them in a newest to oldest order, which may help in filtering your results.
- New York Times Historical (1851-4 years ago)
The full text of the New York Times from 1851 to 2005 - covering the entire publishing history of the newspaper back to the first issue. The newspaper text is fully indexed and searchable and the database also contains full-page images, including graphics.
Web Sites of Interest
Explore the contents of libraries around the world using this enormous shared catalog. This is especially easy to use if you already know a particular author or title. To request a book from another library, click on "find it," fill in your ID card barcode number and your last name to log in, then check off the copyright statement and submit your request.
- American Memory
A database containing full text documents, spoken word and sound recordings, still and moving images, maps, and sheet music as a digital record of American history and creativity. From the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions.
- American Transcendentalism Web
Links to primary texts, background information, and essays on the transcendentalists.
- NYPL Digital Library
If you are looking for visual materials, NYPL Digital Gallery provides access to over 550,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the collections of The New York Public Library. These images may be used for educational purposes.
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