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Spotlight on U.S. Political History

2010 saw the publication of two important new reference works on American political history: The Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History, published in seven volumes by CQ Press, and the Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History, published in two volumes by Princeton University Press. Both encyclopedias are available online through the library’s catalog.

The Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History is organized in chronological order from the colonial period to the present. The chronological organization belies the print origin of this reference work and results in multiple entries for different time periods on topics such as woman suffrage and civil rights. However, a reader interested in the early republic may choose to browse the e-Table of Contents of the second volume only.

A Reader’s Guide brings together entries on broad topics such as Elections & Electoral Politics, Wars & Foreign Policy, and Domestic Policy & Policy Issues to give some examples. Entries are between three and six pages long and can be downloaded as PDF files. Each entry includes a persistent URL for easy sharing with colleagues and students. Other options include citation tools, export links to RefWorks and EndNote, as well as email, print and download icons. Cross references are highlighted as Related Entries. Each entry includes a bibliography and suggestions for further reading. In some instances the bibliographies include web links. One such link took me to A New Nation Votes, a digital collection of election returns from 1787 to 1825, a collaborative project of the American Antiquarian Society and Tufts University. Illustrations such as photos, maps, graphs, and cartoons are part of some entries.

Explore the variety of topics covered in the Encyclopedia. Here are some sample entries to whet your appetite: public opinion polling, third parties, conservation policy, reconstruction, Election of 1928, suffrage.

Although much smaller in size, the Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History edited by Michael Kazin holds its own next to the Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History. Its entries tend to be broader in scope and are in some cases split up to cover different time periods. The entries on Women & Politics are divided into five time periods: up to 1828, 1828-1865, 1865-1920, 1920-1970, and 1970 to the present. Available through the Gale Virtual Reference Library, the Princeton Encyclopedia has the same features as the Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History. I invite you to take a closer look at the selected sample entries below: cartooning, Catholics & politics, environmental issues & politics, television & politics.

Other reference titles at Falvey, both online and in print, include The Encyclopedia of American Parties, Campaigns, and Elections, The Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, The Encyclopedia of U.S. Campaigns, Elections, and Electoral Behavior, and many more.  Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments that you may have.

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Last Modified: November 2, 2011