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Civ Research 2020 Cultural Centers: Reference



Getting started

A reference source is a great place to get an overview of your topic. By carefully reading a detailed reference article you can get a solid grounding on the facts or background of an event, person, or time period, gather keywords, names, and dates for further searching, and use the Selected Bibliography to start gathering your secondary sources. Start by looking for information about art or music in your region and time period; then get some historical context:

  • In the column on the left below you will find many links to Oxford Art and Oxford Music - this is the place where everyone should start.
  • The middle column has historical encyclopedias from different regions.
  • The right hand column gives you some general tips about using reference articles, has a print and digital version of the note-taking guide that will walk you what you should be looking for in your reference article to get the most out of it, and an example citation

Finding an art or music reference article

Oxford Art and Oxford Music (sometimes referred to as Grove) are absolutely the best place to start to find out about art or music in your region and country.

The first thing you should do is look up the name of your city. For example if you have Paris, 19th century, art, go to Oxford Art Online (link below) and search Paris. That's it! 

If there's no entry, or just a short entry, try searching your country eg Cuba.

Don't forget, there might be more than one entry. We have print copies in the Library, or you can access the online version by clicking on the links below. 

General reference sources

Encyclopedia Britannica has good entries on the history of many cities.

Gale eBooks has reference works on many topics including religion, politics and social history. 


Historical reference sources

Look for historical background about your city/country in the region-specific encyclopedias below. If you don't find anything, try the general sources in the box at the bottom. Once you find your article(s), look in the box on the right for suggestions about how to get the most out of the information.

Finding a historical reference article - United States

Finding a historical reference article - Europe

Finding a historical reference article - rest of the world

Using reference articles to build background knowledge

Now you have reference articles on your city in the appropriate Oxford and a relevant history encyclopedia (and don’t forget, there may be more than one entry), here's some ideas about how to get the best information out of them:

  • Email yourself the article or save a pdf so you can easily access it.
  • Read the introduction to the entries.
  • Navigate to the appropriate time period
  • Read the section on your time period making notes of the names of composers/artists and their works (Oxford).
  • Read the section on your time period making notes of historical events (history encyclopedia):
    • Make a brief timeline of events that were happening at the time
    • Note any major changes or shifts in politics, religion, or wealth
    • Consider how any shifts or events are reflected in art or music.
  • Make a note of other keywords.
  • Be aware that there are multiple types of music and art.
    • Music: art music, folk music, rock music, jazz, liturgical, secular, classical, etc.
    • Art: painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, drawing, etc.
  • Don’t forget you will need to cite these sources, so create a project in Noodletools and start a bibliography (Chicago advanced). Make sure you have all the relevant information, or have a way to be able to get back to it.
    • In long entries there will likely be multiple authors and bibliographies. Make note of the authors of the sections you are using.

Reference Source Notetaking Tools

Example: reference book citation

Atonicek, Theophil. "Vienna: The Baroque Era." In The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie, 549-54. Second ed. Vol. 26. New York: Grove, 2001.

Online reference citation examples

Bibliograpy (should have a hanging indent)

Stevenson, Robert, and José Iges. "Madrid." In Grove Music Online. 2001. Oxford Music Online. 

Full footnote

1. Robert Stevenson and José Iges, "Madrid," in Grove Music Online (2001), Oxford Music Online.

Short footnote

  2. Stevenson and Iges, "Madrid."