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HIST 586 - Advanced Seminar in History

Historiographies, Guides, & Companions

Trying to place your topic within the topic of how other historians have written about it?

Look for books or journal articles written for students or a researcher exploring new content and needing an overview of the existing scholarship. These works discuss themes, changes in commonly held beliefs, and seminal (commonly referenced) works.


Locate historiographies and research guides or companions in Search It in a couple of ways:

1. Locate titles by searching for:

2. Search for your topic and the term: historiography. You may need to broaden the search from your topic to a time period or concept, like: religion AND historiography

Below are a sample of titles relevant to the Middle Ages.

Journal Articles

To locate scholarly journal articles with historiographies, add the term historiography to your search.

For example: (convents OR nuns) AND historiography

Book Reviews

Book reviews help gauge how other historians receive a new book. Typically, a book review will highlight how the book contributes to existing scholarship and critique the quality of the research in the book. Read several reviews of a book; all historians may not agree on the value of the new work.

Locate book reviews in most databases by limiting your search results to Reviews.


Dissertations include a review of the literature, including a discussion of the historiography relevant to the research. It typically appears in the introduction, but can also be integrated throughout the dissertation.

Journal Articles

These databases are your best starting points for scholarly journal articles.

Each has a different strength; use the descriptions to learn more. Develop the habit of searching multiple databases to ensure you are covering both current and older journal articles.


Locate books relevant to your research using the sources below.

Always search WorldCat in addition to Search It to find all possible resources. If we do not own a title, or a title is checked out, request a copy using Interlibrary Loan.

Primary Sources

Locate relevant primary sources as soon as possible; they will inform your research and argument. If you wait until after you have determined your argument, you may not find supporting sources.

Below are a sample of primary source resources. If you cannot find relevant primary sources, contact Sara K. Kearns.


Some books include primary sources such as legal documents, letters, and diaries. When searching in Search It or WorldCat, add any or all of these terms to your search:

sources OR papers OR letters OR diaries OR narratives OR records


Dissertations identify the collection at an archive, museum, or library, or a digitized collection that the researcher consulted. We can then find out options for accessing that archive. (Travel and copying costs may limit your ability to access the materials.)

Some dissertations include photographs, scans, or other materials as appendices.


Art, maps, and photographs of cultural objects, like clothing, can support your research, particularly if you cannot read Latin, Greek, or medieval French.



Universities and other research institutions are digitizing primary sources from their collections. Below are good starting points.