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HIST 300 - Introduction to Historical Studies: Specialized Reference Resources - Definitions

A to Z List

A | B | C | D | E | G | H | IQ | S | T | UY

This is a list of various types of reference sources that can be found on the shelves or electronically at USC Upstate.  If you know of a type of source that is not on the list and would like it to be added, please contact the librarian associated with this guide to make the suggestion.

The definitions below were compiled from the following sources: <>

<, Myrtle & Gayle Poirier. The Research Process Books and Beyond. page 125  Kendall Hunt Pub, 1997.

A - D


  • Abridged Dictionary

This resource defines selected words and terms, confirms spelling, definition and pronunciation, explains how words are used, and helps to locate synonyms and antonyms.

  • Almanac

This usually contains a single volume representing a specified year with a compilation of facts and statistics on a topic.



  • Bibliography

This contains a list of sources (books, articles, and more) about a specific subject or author.

  • Bilingual Dictionary

This defines words and terms used by the two languages represented in the dictionary.

  • Biographical Dictionary

These sources provide a short summary of the lives of people, often with a focus on a particular group of people (women, scientists, historical figures, etc).



  • Chronology

This work presents information that is arranged by date.

  • Concordance

These sources give an alphabetical list of the principal keywords or phrases contained in another book with citations of the passages.



  • Digest

This is a compilation of information or a short account of that information.

  • Directory

This source gives contact information such as names, addresses, and telephone numbers.

E - M


  • Etymological Dictionary

This provides the history of words and how their meanings change.


  • Gazetteer

An alphabetical list of geographic names identifying the nature and location of the thing, or place, named.

  • General Atlas

This is a book of maps along with geographical information about the contents of the resource.

  • General Encyclopedia

These sets provide summaries of information and ideas in a comprehensive manner. They are useful for providing facts and obtaining a broad survey of a topic.

  • Guidebook

These sources provide detailed descriptions of places and are designed primarily for visitors or those unfamiliar with a particular area. Readers will find descriptions of road, places, or objects of interest, geographical facts and occasionally maps.



  • Handbook

These provide a brief survey of a topic.

  • Historical Atlas

This source contains maps and descriptions of the represented areas as they were during the time period that is covered by the atlas.


  • Index

An index lists citations to periodical articles, books, and proceedings and indicates where those resources can be found.


  • Manual

A manual explains how to do something, such as the manner in which something operates or the way in which an organization operates.

N - Z


  • Subject Atlas

These atlases provide maps and information about a specific topic.

  • Subject Dictionary

These sources focus on the vocabulary of a subject or discipline.

  • Subject Encyclopedia

These sources contain articles on topics within a specific subject.


  • Unabridged Dictionary

This source provides a comprehensive listing of words and terms along with definitions and helps to identify synonyms and antonyms.


  • Yearbook

A yearbook covers the trends and events of a specific year. It may be general in coverage or limited to a specific subject or geographical area.