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History: New York State: Reference

Reference sources - what are they?

Materials which are referred to for brief or general information. Examples include:

  • Background or overview synopses (encyclopedia)
  • Definitions (dictionary)
  • Synonyms (thesaurus)
  • Statistics
  • Biographical Details
  • Maps (atlas)

Reference sources - how to search them

Reference resources are organized in an order that aids searching (alphabetically, chronologically, etc).  Most include an index which points users to the appropriate section.  Tips for searching:

  1. Decide on your search terms
  2. Try searching with them
  3. If not satisfied with the results, try searching a synonym or related idea

Things to watch out for:

  • Is the computer searching only the title/header of the entries or the full-text of the information?  You will get more results, but more of them will be irrelabent if you are searching the full-text.
  • Are you searching for a proper noun (name, place,...)?  Make sure that the spelling is correct and try variations if it originated in a foreign language.
  • Searching for something by date?  This is trickier than it sounds.  If possible, search for an event name or topic rather than a date, e.g. civil rights movement or hippies or flower children rather than 1960s.


Atlases and maps

  • Historical Atlas of the United States. (Ref.G1201.S1N3 1988 - in atlas case 4)
  • Richards atlas of New York State. 1959 (Ref. G1250.R5 1959)
  • New York: atlas of historical county boundaries (Ref.G 1251.F7N4)
  • Atlas of Early American History; the revolutionary era, 1760-1790. (Ref. G1201.S3A8 1976 - atlas case 4)

New York History: encyclopedias and handbooks

Bibliographies on New York history

  • New York: a guide to information and reference sources. (Ref F119.A1 L66 1980 w/suppl. 1987)
  • Historical materials relating to Northern N. Y.: a union catalog. 1976 (Ref F 127.N9 H66 1976)
  • A Guide to local historical material in the libraries of South Central New York State. 1976 (Ref F 119.A1 S58 1976)
  • A Bibliography of New York State communities counties, towns, villages. (Ref F 119.A1 N47 1990) annotated, arranged geographically
  • Research and Publications in New York State history. 1968-72,1976-80. (Ref F 116.A1 N5)
  • Guide to historical resources in St. Lawrence County New York repositories. (Ref F 127.S2G84 1987)
  • Reel index to the microfilm collection of New York County and regional histories and atlases. (Ref F 128.3.A1 R44 1977)

Bibliographies on special subjects

  • Official Publications of the State of New York relating to its history as colony and state. 1917 (Ref. Z1009.N56 no. 59)
  • New York State and Federal census records; an inventory. 1957 (Ref. Z1009.N56 no.81)
  • Constitutional Developments in New York 1777-1958. 1958 (Ref. Z1009.N56 no.82)
  • Indian Land Tenure: a bibliographical essay and guides to the literature. 1975 (Ref E 98.L3 S95 1975)
  • New York in the American Revolution; a bibliography 1974 (Ref. F128.44.A13 K58 1974)
  • Adirondack bibliography; a list of books, pamphlets and periodical articles published through the year 1955. 1958 (Ref. F127.A2 A3 1958 and supplements)
  • Adirondack Books, 1966-1992. (Ref. F127.A2 W45 1994)
  • A Bibliography of American autobiographies. 1961 (Ref. CT214.A1 K3 1961)
  • A Directory of oral history and audiovisual local history resources in public libraries of New York State. (Ref. F119.P3 1985)
  • See also the many ethnic bibliographies in Ref E 180s.


  • American National Biography - a massive set. (Ref. CT 213 .A68)
  • Dictionary of American biography, 24 volumes, 1928-1974 (Ref. E176.D562)
  • The National cyclopeidia of American biography, 1898-date. (Ref. E176.N28)
  • The New York Times obituaries index, 1858-1976 (Ref. CT213.N47)
  • Biography index, 1919-date. (Ref. CT100 .B5)
  • Abridged biography and genealogy master index (Ref. CT214.A27)
  • Who's who in New York (1904,1924, 1929, 1938, 1952) (Ref. F 118.W62)

Guides and other NY history sites



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