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HIST2220: Technology in World History: Reference Resources

Reference Resources for History

In the earliest stages of a research project, when you are looking for a possible topic or gethering basic information about a topic you have in mind, some of the best tools to use are reference resources: bibliographies, guides to research for specific subjects, specialized historical or biographical enclyclopedias, and related works. These materials are designed to provide you with an introductory overview of a topic. The best reference works:

  • are written by experts in their subjects
  • will suggest many possible paper topics to you (or help you narrow down a topic that is too broad)
  • provide basic facts, background, and contextual information for a subject
  • give you a good idea of the major questions and debates historians have explored in relation to a subject
  • may give you a good idea of the major primary sources available for a subject
  • will provide a brief but carefully selected bibliography of important secondary works about the subject

In sum, reference resources are very efficient tools to use in the early stages of research paper topic selection and topic refinement; they are practical stepping stones to the next stages of your project. They can save you time and should be consulted as you begin your work. We strongly recommend you start your research with the high-quality collection of over 720 full-text reference sources in the Credo Reference Academic Core database.

Looking for a Technology to Research? Try One of These!

Here is a very brief list of some important technologies in world history. All of them have been the subject of significant historical research, so you can be certain of finding sources about them:

The printing press, 1430s The steam engine, 1712 Nitrogen fixation, 1918
Sanitation systems, mid-19th century Refrigeration, 1850s Gunpowder, 10th century
The airplane, 1903 The personal computer, 1970s The compass, 12th century
The automobile, late 19th century Industrial steelmaking, 1850s Electricity, late 19th century
The birth control pill, 1960 Nuclear fission, 1939 The sextant, 1757
The telephone, 1876 Alphabetization, first millennium b.c. The telegraph, 1837
The mechanized clock, 15th century Radio, 1906 Photography, early 19th century
Penicillin, 1928 The moldboard plow, 18th century Archimedes’ screw, third century b.c.
The cotton gin, 1793 Pasteurization, 1863 The Gregorian calendar, 1582
Oil refining, mid-19th century The steam turbine, 1884 Cement, first millennium b.c.
Scientific plant breeding, 1920s Oil drilling, 1859 Semiconductor electronics, mid-20th century
The sailboat, fourth millennium b.c. Rocketry, 1926 Paper money, 11th century
The abacus, third millennium b.c. Air-conditioning, 1902 Television, early 20th century
Anesthesia, 1846 The nail, second millennium b.c. The lever, third millennium b.c.
The assembly line, 1913 Optical lenses, 13th century The combine harvester, 1930s
Paper, second century The internal combustion engine, late 19th century Vaccination, 1796

Subject Guide

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Richard Kearney
Electronic Resources Librarian
Reference and Information Services Office, Room 107g
David and Lorraine Cheng Library
William Paterson University
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