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HIST 150: The French Revolution (Fall 2022)

How have history topics changed?

Below are searches from Historical Abstracts, each with French Revolution in their title. 
Compare the scope:


Too detailed for this class, but worth mentioning. If studying the past is History, then the study of historians is historiography. 

These books about the history of history give us an insight into the types of questions historians ask, and how those questions change over time.

Finding Primary Sources in the Catalog

William & Mary has an outstanding collection of rare and special materials, some of which you'll see in a future visit to the library.

Remember, too, that primary sources can be found in the main library catalog by using the "publication date" feature. 

Limit the results to a specific date range to find items from your time period of interest. Example:

Books aren't all the same

There are different types of books, each with a different amounts & type of information. Examples:

  • Reference Books
  • Overviews
  • Bibliographies
  • Argumentative Studies

Reference Books

These are very broad works meant to give you a basic overview of a topic. They are only meant as a starting point.

We keep them in their own section of the library and are really meant to direct us to other books.

Overviews (Edited volumes)

These books, edited to include many authors, provides a top-down discussion of the topic. They are a good place to find academic essays on a topic, especially if you don't need a full book of information on the subject. 

Downside: they are topical and don't usually have a narrative. Great for specific topics but not ideal for a start-to-finish overview.

Overviews (Single Author Narratives)

There are books written by one (or sometimes several) authors who provide a narrative overview of the topic. 

Good for an introduction and overview, though it means the whole books reflects their views & ideas alone.

Argument Books

All books have an argument. Even large narrative books will, perhaps subtly, have an argument. 

Many academic books, however, have a very specific argument and narrow focus. These are not always great for a broad understanding of field but may be useful in higher level research.


For this class you won't use a dissertation, but they are an example of an Extremely focused book-length project.

They are not technically peer reviewed nor published, and are designed to highlight entirely original research. A dissertation is required to obtain a PhD.