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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Specialist Reference Works for Researchers

A guide to library resources for students in Professor De Lorenzi's courses

Why Should I Start with Encyclopedia Articles?

The first step in your research project involves encyclopedias. Encyclopedia articles are valuable to historians for two reasons. 

First, they give you a succinct, reliable, and informed introduction to your topic, with lots of basic information about whatever it is that interests you.  If you know nothing—or almost nothing—about your topic, this basic introduction is particularly helpful. 

Second, encyclopedias give you leads. This is because the author of an encyclopedia article will usually identify the most important works related to a topic. Sometimes he or she does this by listing these works in a bibliography; other times this information comes via footnotes, endnotes, or links. Wherever these leads appear, you need to find them. They will guide the next stage of your investigation, ensuring that you are on the right path rather than a detour or a dead end.

This guide is organized by regions and themes. Choose the tab for the part of the world or topic you are studying, and then consult the print and online encyclopedias listed. If you see a call number listed, this means that the book is only available in print, and that you must find it in the Reference section of the John Jay Library.  You can access online encyclopedias off campus with your John Jay user name and password.

A big thank you to Professor Marta Bladek, who designed and maintains this resource guide.