There are many helpful encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks in Widener and other libraries that can give you a general overview of a specific topic. You can try searching in HOLLIS for your subject (see the HOLLIS tab for finding the proper Subject terms) plus the words encyclopedias or dictionaries. Thus: “United States” AND “Intellectual life” AND (encyclopedias OR dictionaries) yields:
The Oxford encyclopedia of American cultural and intellectual history, ed. by Joan Shelley Rubin and Scott E. Casper. Oxford; NY: Oxford University Press, 2 v. Widener | RR 3627.95
Encyclopedia of American cultural & intellectual history, ed. by Mary Kupiec Cayton, Peter W. Williams. NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001, 3 v. Lamont | REFERENCE | E169.1 .E624 2001 Widener | RR 3627.93
To find individual encyclopedia articles in HOLLIS, do a keyword search on your topic and in the results list look for Resource Type under Refine Your Results in the right-hand column. Choose Reference entries.
CQ Press Electronic Library: Political Reference Suite contains many historical sources.
Contemporary Subject Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
Contemporary subject encyclopedias and dictionaries are useful in interpreting primary sources. They can be found by an Expanded Search in the HOLLIS Catalog with, e.g., <Medicine dictionaries> [Keyword search], limited by year range.
Gould, George M. (George Milbry), 1848-1922.
An illustrated dictionary of medicine, biology and allied sciences ...
3d ed. rev.
Philadelphia, Blakiston, 1897, c1894.
These books are usually shelved toward the beginning of each subject class.