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U.S. Social Justice & Reform Movements: Background Resources

Sources of Background Information

Background research is often needed when you are getting started on a topic and need an overview or when you encounter terms or events that you need to learn more about as your research progresses.  Examples of sources for background information are-

  • Encyclopedias
  • Bibliographies
  • Indexes
  • Textbooks
  • Book reviews
  • Other reference resources

Bibliography Mining

If someone has already done research on a topic you are investigating you are encouraged to seek out the same sources. Sometimes you may find an abundant amount of material that wasn't important to them, but is perfect for you. Other times you may find you disagree with their interpretation, which will give you something to write about from a fresh perspective. 

Theses and dissertations are a great place to find bibliographies (sometimes called literature reviews)  Many can be found in this database-

Finding Background Sources- Credo Reference

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Credo Reference helps you start your research in American history with timelines, histories of the US as a whole and by state or region, and introductions to key historical events.

NOTE- Credo Reference has a link to JSTOR database, which is a great source for scholarly secondary sources.


The library subscibes to many other databases which may be useful in finding background information, in addtion to Credo Reference

List of library databases containing resources for background information 

Credo Basic Search Video