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Guide to Historical Research (UNH Durham): Databases

Resources and strategies for advanced undergraduate and graduate students in history.

Reference Works

When defining a topic or the direction of research, reference works may be useful in helping one learn basic facts about the topic. In addition, many articles in reference sources include a basic bibliography of sources. There are many print reference works and sets housed on both the main floor of Dimond Library and increasingly in the stacks housing circulating materials. However, the Library also subscribes to a number of online dictionaries and encyclopedias that may enhance the research process.

Why Use?

Good places to gather background information on a topic or get ideas when choosing a topic.

Background information:

  • definitions
  • specific factual information such as dates
  • overviews or summaries of topics
  • recommendations for additional sources

Types of reference sources

  • specialized encyclopedias
  • dictionaries
  • directories
  • statistical compilations
  • handbooks
  • bibliographies


The UNH Library provides access to over 400 databases in virtually every subject area. The may provide indexing and abstracts for periodicals, articles in full-text, book collections, government publications, directory information, and online reference sources such as encyclopedias and dictionaries.

You can access them through the online catalog or through the Databases page. There, you find them by name/title, by subject, or by type or format. If you have difficulties accessing databases, online journals or ebooks, click here for technical support.


Databases for History

There are a significant number of library databases directly and indirectly related to historical research. These include periodicals and newspapers, many of which feature full-text articles, but also digitized early imprints and mongraphs, government documents, and primary sources. In addition to History Databases, researchers might also look at resources listed under:  Art, Art History & ArchitectureBiographyGeneral & MultidisciplinaryCollections,and Primary Sources.


Digital Public Library of America and World Digital Library

One of the newest, most exciting, and open source discovery platforms is the Digital Public Library of America. It includes over 11 million items form America's libraries, archives, and museums. These include digitized books, photographs, and historical documents from the Smithsonian, the National Archives, major research universities, and digital consortia.

In addition, the Library of Congress, with the support of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), and in cooperation with libraries, archives, museums, educational institutions, and international organizations from around the world, is hosting the World Digital Library. To-date, the World Digital Library contains over 10,000 items about nearly 200 countries.

My Profile

Bill Ross's picture
Bill Ross
Special Collections Librarian

Office: Dimond Library 101D
603 862-0346


This library guide was created to support the study of history at The University of New Hampshire.

Please use this guide to help develop your research. If you need additional assistance, please don't hesitate to contact me by phone, email, IM, or Facebook. My office hours during the semester are Monday, 1-4pm and online, Sunday night, from 8-11pm. I can also meet at other times to discuss your research needs or for one-on-one instruction on search strategies and sources.

I also serve as liaison to the History Department, so if you want to purchase or gain access to monographs, periodicals, media, or other resources that are not available at UNH, let me know and we'll determine the best strategy for connecting you with the information you need.

I welcome your suggestions for changes or additions to this guide, as well as those geared towards enhancing services provided by the UNH Library.