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Historical Fiction

Resources that provide background information about people, places, settings, events and daily life.


As you write your work of historical fiction, you will want to place your story within the actual events of the time, use descriptions of places and settings that are historically accurate, and refer to notable people of that day and age.  This guide directs you to various sources that will help you find such information.  What you find useful in this guide will depend on your story and your time period.  Please note the tabs on the left side of this guide: Subjects, News / Events, People / Daily Life, Places / Settings, Other Resources.  

Background Information

The Find Books box below refers to the resources used to search for books on your topic.  You might also search more specifically for a specialized encyclopedia on your time period.  These can be incredible treasures of background information.  I've listed a few print examples below.  Notice that some have narrower topics than others, so if you don't find an encyclopedia on your event, consider how your event might be within a larger topic.  For example, you can't find an encyclopedia on the shootout at the OK Corral?  Try the Encyclopedia of the West.  

Encyclopedia of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, McCain F592.7 .W68 2004, 2nd floor
American Eras…various subtitles and call numbers, browse at ref E164 .A474, 1st floor
American Decades, E169.12 .A419 1994b, 3rd floor
    also electronic through Gale eBooks

Also, try your topic in one of these online reference databases:

Find Books... and more books

Books are very useful sources of background information.  Try a search in WorldCat Local for your historical topic.  And Google Books lets you search within the content of books that have been digitized... that can sometimes identify useful books that aren't retrieved in a regular book database. 

Searching by Subject for Background Information

To find background information in encyclopedias or dictionaries in the library collection, use Subject Headings similar to:

Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806)—Encyclopedias
United States—History—Revolution, 1775-1783—Encyclopedias