On this page you'll find links to some important subject encyclopedias on women and women's issues. Not all subject encyclopedias in our collection are online, though. If you need help finding background info, Ask a Librarian!
A basic principle of research:
Go from the general to the specific.
Imagine that you're interested in the experiences of Appalachian women during the Depression of the 1930s. That's a very big topic for a single paper, but a great starting point.
You could begin by checking an encyclopedia for a brief history of the Appalachian region, and for an overview of the Depression.
You might learn, for example, that the Tennessee Valley Authority was established in 1933 to create jobs and generate electricity by building dams on the Tennessee River. Jobs and electricity were badly needed, but TVA projects also displaced thousands of families who lived near the dam sites.
This background info suggests one way to narrow your topic: You could research how women and families were affected by the building of dams on the Tennessee River. Did the rate of poverty change? Were extended families affected by displacement? ...and so on.
In high school you were probably advised not to use encyclopedias for research. That is still true. Encyclopedia articles should not be the major sources for your paper.
However, checking an encyclopedia can help you understand context and background, and focus your topic to a manageable size.
Historical Dictionary of the Lesbian and Gay Liberation Movements. Scarecrow, 2013.
LGBT: Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History in America. Thomson Gale, 2004.
The Sage Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies. SAGE, 2016.
Encyclopedia of Domestic Violence and Abuse. ABC-CLIO, 2013.
Historical Dictionary of Women's Education in the United States. Greenwood, 1998.
Encyclopedia of Women in the American West. SAGE, 2003.
Gender (New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, vol. 13) University of North Carolina Press, 2009.
Historical Dictionary of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
Historical Dictionary of Women in the Middle East and North Africa. Scarecrow, 2013.
Women in Developing Countries: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO, 2011.
Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. Oxford University Press, 2005.
Black Women of the Harlem Renaissance Era. Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.
Enslaved Women in America: From Colonial Times to Emancipation. Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.
Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia. Indiana University Press, 2006.
On This They Stand: An Overview of Black Women's Studies. ProQuest, 2006.