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Dictionaries and encyclopedias like the ones listed on this page are a good place to begin your research. They can provide background or general information on a topic, help to narrow a broad topic to a manageable one for your paper, and suggest other sources you might consult for further information.
Starting points for historical research (print)
American Historical Association's guide to historical literature / general editor, Mary Beth Norton
A great place to start a research project. More than 27,00 annotated citations to publications dating from 1961 to 1992 covering 48 periods in world history.
Timetables of History : a horizontal linkage of people and events / Bernard Grun
Chronological tables of the people , places and events that shaped world history.
Encyclopedia of world cultures / David Levinson, editor in chief
Ethnology studies, organized geographically, with descriptions including history, economy, marriage and family, religion, etc.
Online Encyclopedias and Dictionaries