Skip to main content

History - U.S.: Background Information

A general guide for researching U.S. history

Background Information -- Reference Books

Reference Books

King Library, Breckinridge Room

King Library, Breckinridge Room - Find it in Explore UK

Search the content of all electronic and print reference books

Reference Universe

Searches the content of reference resources owned by UK Libraries, both electronic and print titles, linking you to the pages that contain your search terms in the electronic versions and to the location of the print title in the paper collection while also providing page references.

Kentucky-Specific Reference Resources

Notable Kentucky African Americans (NKAA) 

Contains short biographies of notable African Americans with Kentucky roots or ties, organized by profession or subject. Also includes entries for events and locations. Includes links to related resources.

Kentucky Encyclopedia 

Print edition from the University Press of Kentucky. Includes 2,100 entries.

Search Tips for Finding Reference Books

To find reference books at UK Libraries search using InfoKat Discovery

Try starting with a keyword search

  1. Enter words that describe your topic (names, places, events, etc.) and the type of work.
  2. When you find a book on your topic, examine its subject headings for relevance to your topic.
  3. Click on a hyperlinked subject heading to perform subject heading search and retrieve related books.

Example keyword searches: 

  • United States history reference
  • United States social history encyclopedia
  • United States history military encyclopedia
  • Vietnam War historiography

You can also try performing a subject heading search in InfoKat Discovery, if you know a Library of Congress subject heading such as:

  • United States -- History -- 1783-1815 -- Encyclopedias
  • Immigrants -- United States -- Social conditions -- Encyclopedias
  • Women -- United States -- History -- 18th century -- Encyclopedias
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- 1933-1945 -- Historiography

Once you get a list of results, you may want to select the Resource Type --> Books to further filter the list (left hand side of the page).

Small Sample of General Reference Books

Blazek, Ron., Anna H. Perrault, and NetLibrary, Inc. United States History : A Selective Guide to Information Sources. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1994.

Perrault, Anna H., and Ron. Blazek. United States History : A Multicultural, Interdisciplinary Guide to Information Sources. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2003.  Young Library   Reference   Z1236 .P45 2003  

Kane, Joseph Nathan. Famous First Facts : A Record of First Happenings, Discoveries, and Inventions in American History. Seventh ed. 2015.  Young Library   Reference   AG5 .K315 2015  ​

Small Sample of Subject-Specific Reference Books

Aguila, Emma, Alisher R. Akhmedjonov, Ricardo Basurto-Davila, Krishna B. Kumar, Sarah Kups, and Howard J. Shatz. United States and Mexico. RAND Corporation, 2012.

Blewett, Daniel K., and NetLibrary, Inc. American Military History a Guide to Reference and Information Sources. Reference Sources in the Social Sciences Series ; No. 7. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1995.

Tanenhaus, David Spinoza, and Gale Group. Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Detroit, Mich.: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008.

Oboler, Suzanne, Editor, Gonzalez, Deena J., Editor, and Gale Group. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States. Gale Virtual Reference Library. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Alexander, Leslie M., Leslie M. Rucker, Rucker, Walter C., and Gale Group. Encyclopedia of African American History. American Ethnic Experience. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2010.

Palmer, Colin A., and Gale Group. Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History the Black Experience in the Americas. 2nd ed. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Detroit, Mich.: Macmillan Reference USA, 2006.

Cayton, Mary Kupiec., Elliott J. Gorn, and Peter W. Williams. Encyclopedia of American Social History. New York: Scribner, 1993.  Young Library  Reference   HN57 .E58 1993