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Michigan State University

European American Studies Research Guide: Reference Tools

Reference Tools

Reference books include dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, directories, manuals, handbooks, and much more. Reference books can help you

  1. explore a topic (find out what has been said about a topic, trends, issues, etc.
  2. identify unfamiliar terms or people in your reading
  3. find references to other books and articles on the topic, and
  4. find keywords to use in online searches.

This page pulls together a sample of both electronic and print reference tools.

Basic Reference Tools (Online)

If you don't know where to start, you may want to try one of the following online compilations of reference tools:

Gale Virtual Reference Library : Includes encyclopedic articles on historical and contemporary Natie American research topics.  Note;  It may be necessary to click on Gale products more than once before they open!

Oxford Reference Online : Contains online versions of dictionaries and encyclopedias previously published in paper by the Oxford University Press.

Sage Reference Online : Includes numerous encyclopedias and handbooks, primarily in the Social Sciences.

Recommended Reference Tools

Discovering the Peoples of Michigan series by the Michigan State University Press.  Titles in this series include:

Albanians in Michigan / Main Library F575.A3 T75 2001

Amish in MichiganMain Library F575.M45 H86 2001

Belgians in Michigan / Main Library  F575.B2 C66 2007

Cornish in MichiganMain Library  F575.C6 M34 2007

Discovering the Peoples of Michigan Reader / Main Library F575.A1 D57 2008

Dutch in MichiganMain Library  F575.D9 T46 2002

Ethnicity in Michigan : Issues and People /   Main Library F575.A1 G57 2001

Finns in Michigan /  Main Library F575.F5 K38 2009

French Canadians in MichiganMain Library F575.F85 D85 2001

Germans in MichiganMain Library F575.G3 K45 2002

Greeks in MichiganMain Library  F575.G7 F73 2004

Hungarians in Michigan  /   Main Library F575.H95 H87 2003

Irish in Michigan / Main Library F575.I6 M47 2006

Italians in MichiganMain Library F575.I8 M34 2001

Jews in Michigan / Main Library F558.2.J5 C36 2001

Latvians in Michigan / Main Library and Faculty Book Collection  F575.L4 M45 2005

Lithuanians in Michigan / Main Library F575.L7 G73 2009

Norwegians in Michigan / Main Library F575 .S2 D38 2010

Poles in Michigan / Main Library F575.P7 B33 2002

Scandinavians in Michigan / Main Library F575.S18 H36 2006

Scots in Michigan / Main Library F575.S3 F67 2003

South Slavs in Michigan / Main Library F575.S6 C48 2003

Yankees in Michigan / Main Library F575.A1 W55 2008

Detroit's Corktown / Armando Delicato.   Charleston, SC : Arcadia, c2007.  Main Library F574.D46 C673 2007  : the 21st century, this community has beckoned to the restless of spirit, the adventurous, and those who have sought to escape poverty and oppression to make a new life in America. While the city of Detroit has undergone tremendous change over the years, Corktown has never forgotten the solid working-class roots established by brave pioneers in the mid-19th century. Many of their shotgun homes are still occupied, and many commercial buildings have served the community for decades. Today the neighborhood is the scene of increasing residential and commercial development and has attracted attention throughout the region. No longer exclusively Irish, the community has also been important historically to the large German, Maltese, and Mexican populations of Detroit. Today it is a diverse and proud community of African Americans, Hispanics, working-class people of various national origins, and a growing population of young urban pioneers. It is still the sentimental heart of the Irish American community of metropolitan Detroit, and the Irish Plaza on Sixth Street honors the city’s Irish pioneers and their 600,000 descendents living in the region.

Detroit's Polonia / Cecile Wendt Jensen.  Charleston, SC : Arcadia, 2005.  128pp.  Main Library E184.P7 J46 2005  : More than a century has passed since the first Poles settled in Detroit. The first communities were established on the east side of Detroit, but the colony expanded rapidly to the west neighborhoods, and Poles in Detroit still identify themselves as East- or Westsiders. The pioneers left Poland for freedom of language and religion, and to own property. They replicated village life in the big city, living in close-knit neighborhoods anchored by the parish church. Polish immigrants made cigars, built railroad cars, molded stoves, established businesses and breweries, and moved into the political arena. The struggles and triumphs of these early settlers are on display in the pages of Detroit Polonia, a photographic history that links future generations with their Polish heritage.

Dutch Heritage in Kent and Ottawa Counties / Norma Lewis and Jay de Vries. Charleston, SC : Arcadia Pub., c2009.  127pp.  Main Library F575.D9 L49 2009 : On February 9, 1847, Rev. Albertus C. Van Raalte chose a site on Michigan’s Black River and founded what became Holland. Motivated in part by a potato famine and crop failures, the settlers also sought religious freedom. Other countrymen followed, leaving an indelible mark on the character of southwest Michigan. Jan Douma and Matteus Notier, Union soldiers from Graafschap, guarded the bier of slain president Abraham Lincoln. Newbery Medal–winning children’s author Meindert DeJong came from Grand Rapids, as did Caldecott Medalist Chris Van Allsburg. The legacy includes Hope, Calvin, and Kuyper Colleges, the world-class Fredrik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, the Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center at Spectrum Hospital, DeVos Performance Hall, Van Andel Arena, the DeGraaf Nature Center, Windmill Island, Dutch Village, and Veldheer’s Tulip Gardens. The Dutch forefathers passed their values on to their progeny to make the area what it is today.

Italians in Detroit / Armando DelicatoCharleston, SC : Arcadia, c2005.  128pp. Main Library F574.D49 I83 2005  : People of Italian descent have been present in Detroit since Alfonso Tonti, second-in-command to Antoine Cadillac, participated in the founding of the city in 1701. By the close of the 19th century, the trickle of Italian immigrants had become a torrent, as thousands rushed to the growing industrial center. Settling on the lower east side, the community grew rapidly, especially north and east into Macomb County. Italians in Detroit did not remain in a "little Italy," but mingled with the diverse population of the city. Through a combination of hard work and strong family and community ties, the Italians of Detroit have achieved their dreams of a better life. They have met the challenges of living in a new land while nurturing the culture of the old country. The challenge that remains is to nurture a love of heritage among young Italian Americans as the immigrant generation fades.

Modern Journeys: The Irish in Detroit.  Ed Marman.  United Irish Societies, 2001.  Volume 1, 237pp.  Volume 2, available at the Library of Michigan.  Main Library E184.I6 M64 2001  : Volume 1 contains 248 pages and includes twenty-three oral histories of Irish and Irish-Americans, each telling of his or her (or the family's) coming over and of their lives here. Included are Neal Shine, former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley, Supreme Court Justice Michael Cavanagh, singer Charlie Taylor, Chris Murray, Tim and Mike O'Hare, and a host of others spinning out their tales of personal and family experiences. The book also includes a history of the Irish in Detroit from the Encyclopedia of the Irish in America, a short history of Corktown, a few short biographies, and a bibliography. Finally, the book contains a large section about the various Irish organizations around Detroit, their histories and purpose....Volume 2, with 295 pages, expands on Volume 1 with 26 additional oral histories, stories of three Orders of nus who taught the Irish in the early days, and a fascinating history of Detroit’s Irish pubs and publicans....Both books are illustrated and are fully indexed.

My Detroit : Growing Up Greek and American in Motor City / Dan Georgakas.  New York : Pella Publishing, c2006.  310pp.  Main Library F574.D4 G744 2006 : Born in Detroit's Eastside in 1938, Dan Georgakas gives voice to the Greeks of Detroit and share their true stories, those that depict the early period of Detroit's industrial renaissance and the struggle of this pioneer generation to assimilate." Georgakas' accounts of Detroit are poignant, filled with contrasts and comparisons from his vast grasp of Greek literature, poetry and history, as well as, his personal experiences. The pages are crafted to draw the reader into the story to such an extent that one finds personal memories, though forgotten, become once again vivid and bright. His recount of his visits to Delmar Grocery in Detroit's Greektown force the abrupt recall of the sounds and scents so familiar, you could almost taste the dark pungent vinegar laced Kalamata olives that were stored in barrels beneath the cramped cheese display case, and hear the warm greeting of its proprietor, "kalo sorisete paidia".

The Right Place at the Right Time : the Volga-Germans of Michigan's Thumb / by Bill Pickelhaupt. Fort Gratiot, MI : Flyblister Press, 2009. 329pp.   Main Library  F575.R85 P53 2009

Rough Seas : An Immigrant's Journey from Holland to Holland.  Klaas de Boer.  Holland, MI ; Klaas de Boer, 2008.  213pp.  Main Library F575 .D9 B647 2008 ; This memoir is the bittersweet story of well-known former professional soccer coach and author Klaas de Boer, an inductee into the Cleveland State University Hall of Fame, who emigrated with his parents, Lammert, a baker, and his wife Elizabeth, and their family in 1956. They settled in the former Dutch enclave of Holland, Western Michigan. The story of leaving the Netherlands is told from de Boer’s perspective as a young teenager. The book starts with a brief overview of the pre-war years and ‘the Idyllic Years’ of his youth, before tackling the subject of the Great Emigration and becoming American. In an engaging style, he examines the internal conflict that many immigrants feel toward their new country and their country of origin – the sense that they belong to both, ‘yet fully to neither.’ Considered a successful immigrant, the author also reflects on the merits of immigration and how he made a new life for himself in America and how he positions himself differently from mainstream Western Michigan.

Tolerated But Never Accepted : Polish American Officials In Michigan and Polonia in a world political perspective  / Don Binkowski.  [Philadelphia, PA] : Xlibris, c2009.   793pp.  Main Library  F575.P7 B46 2009 : Don Binkowski traces the long and tortuous history of the Polish peasant's struggle to participate in America's democracy and election of officials in Michigan and elsewhere in America. Successful in their efforts to establish a 1919 independent Poland, the second-generation Poles gradually focused on all political levels culminating in the election of three Michigan congressmen and other officials during the New Deal. Binkowski documented their successes and failures in Michigan's and the nation's executive, legislative, and judicial branches while Polonia supported the eventual independence of Poland from the communists.

Ukrainians of Metropolitan Detroit / Nancy Karen Wichar. Charleston, SC : Arcadia Pub., c2009. 127pp.  Main Library  F574.D49 U58 2009 :Ukrainians have contributed to the diverse ethnic tapestry in Detroit since the arrival of the first Ukrainian immigrants in the late 1800s. Bringing their history, culture, and determination to achieve, they established a foundation for the resilient community that would continue to emerge during the decades to come. Ukrainian neighborhoods formed on both the east and west sides of the city. This is where they constructed the churches, schools, cultural centers, and financial institutions that would allow them to maintain their cherished ethnic identity while integrating into the American way of life. This book is a pictorial history of the people and events that created a community that would come to be known as the Ukrainians of metropolitan Detroit. 

American Immigrant Cultures : Builders of a Nation / David Levinson and Melvin Ember, editors in chief.  New York : Simon & Schuster Macmillan, 1997.  2 vols.  Main Library E184 .A1 A63448 1997 : A two-volume reference work published by Macmillan Reference covering nonindigenous cultural groups currently living in the United States. It discusses both European groups that have been components of American culture for centuries, and those groups who have arrived recently and are therefore less assimilated and more culturally distinct. From the Acadians to the Zoroastrians, each of these alphabetically arranged articles answers several key questions essential to understanding American immigrant cultures.


(1) What aspects of their culture do these groups hold dear?
(2) To what extent have they assimilated into mainstream America?
(3) What forms of discrimination and prejudice must they overcome?
(4) What cultural characteristics define these groups?

European Immigrant Women in the United States : A Biographical Dictionary / Judy Barrett Litoff, Judith McDonnell, editors.  New York ; London : Garland Pub., 1994.  Main Library E184.E95 L58 1994 :  With the controversy surrounding immigrants to the U.S., this work is a timely look at the accomplishments of a particular group of them. A book of this type helps illustrate the important contributions that immigrants have made to the U.S Arranged alphabetically by last name, the book features 239 women. A summary of the life and career of each subject, 200 to 500 words in length, is followed by an annotated bibliography of published and unpublished source materials for further research. Black-and-white portraits are included for 31 women. The 96 contributors of the signed entries are professors and graduate students. An appendix arranges the women by career. The index includes names, titles, and subjects The women selected for inclusion are deceased and made their contributions after the American Revolution. Not all of them became American citizens or resided in the U.S. for a long time. The selection process attempted to provide a cross-section of women immigrants. Famous women, such as Emma Goldman, Helena Rubinstein, Hannah Arendt, and Greta Garbo, are found along with mathematician Charlotte Scott, labor-activist Rose Pesotta, and midwife Hanna Porn. One can learn about the original "Tugboat Annie," the inventor of packaged crackers, and the female producer of "Our American Cousin" for Ford's Theater Information on many of these women can be found in "Notable American Women" and other standard reference works. But there are some unique biographies, and bringing these women together based on their immigrant status is a useful idea. Recommended for women's studies collections and for immigrant studies.

The Gale encyclopedia of multicultural America / Thomas Riggs, editor.  Detroit : Gale, Cengage Learning, 2014.  3rd edition, 4 volumes.   E184.A1 G14 2014 : This third edition has been thoroughly reorganized and has 23 new entries, each covering an immigrant or indigenous group in the U.S. Although the writing on cultural history and political activity is well done, the information highlighted in separate boxes is what truly fleshes out each culture. Students will find population maps, Sioux proverbs, and a Salvadoran recipe for chili-lime mango.

Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups. Stephan Thernstrom, editor ; Ann Orlov, managing editor, Oscar Handlin, consulting editor.  Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press, 1980.  1076pp.  Oversize Collection (Basement, Center) E184.A1 H35  : Provides long, scholarly essays on all the ethnic groups in the United States, not only the immigrants and refugees who had come voluntarily but also those already in the New World when the first Europeans arrived, those whose ancestors came involuntarily as slaves, and those who became part of the American population as a result of conquest or purchase and subsequent annexation. Extensive bibliographies follow all major essays.

Immigration in U.S. History. edited by Carl L. Bankston, III, Danielle Antoinette Hidalgo ; project editor, R. Kent Rasmussen.  2 vols.  Main Library JV6450 .I565 2006 : This book "places special emphasis on the many ethnic communities that have provided American immigrants. For example, readers will find 17 articles treating African Americans; 56 articles about Asian immigrants, including articles specifically on Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Pacific Islander, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Tibetan, and Vietnamese immigrants; 25 articles on Latino and West Indian immigrants, including articles specifically on Cubans, Dominicans, Haitians, Jamaicans, and Mexicans; 10 articles on Middle Eastern immigrants, including articles specifically on Arabs, Iranians, and Israelis; 37 articles on European immigrants, including articles on German, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Polish, Russian, and Scandinavian immigrants."

Multicultural America : a multimedia encyclopedia / Carlos E. Cortés, editor, University of California, Riverside.  Thousand Oaks, California : SAGE Reference, A Division of SAGE Publications, Inc., 2013.  E184.A1 M8145 2013 Online via Sage Knowledge.  : This comprehensive title is among the first to extensively use newly released 2010 U.S. Census data to examine multiculturalism today and tomorrow in America. This distinction is important considering the following NPR report by Eyder Peralta: “Based on the first national numbers released by the Census Bureau, the AP reports that minorities account for 90 percent of the total U.S. growth since 2000, due to immigration and higher birth rates for Latinos.” According to John Logan, a Brown University sociologist who has analyzed most of the census figures, “The futures of most metropolitan areas in the country are contingent on how attractive they are to Hispanic and Asian populations.” Both non-Hispanic whites and blacks are getting older as a group. “These groups are tending to fade out,” he added. Another demographer, William H. Frey with the Brookings Institution, told The Washington Post that this has been a pivotal decade. “We’re pivoting from a white-black-dominated American population to one that is multiracial and multicultural.”  Pedagogical elements include an introduction, a thematic reader’s guide, a chronology of multicultural milestones, a glossary, a resource guide to key books, journals, and Internet sites, and an appendix of 2010 U.S. Census Data. Finally, the electronic version will be the only reference work on this topic to augment written entries with multimedia for today’s students, with 100 videos (with transcripts) from Getty Images and Video Vault, the Agence France Press, and Sky News

Multiculturalism in the United States : A Comparative Guide to Acculturation and Ethnicity. edited by John D. Buenker and Lorman A. Ratner.   Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2005.  Rev. and expanded ed., 435pp.  Main Library E184.A1 M85 2005 : Contents -- Introduction / John D. Buenker and Lorman A. Ratner -- African Americans / Cynthia Greggs Fleming -- American Indians / Vine Deloria, Jr. -- Arab-Americans / Gregory Orfalea -- Asian Indian Americans / Karen I. Leonard -- Chinese Americans / George Anthony Peffer -- Dominican Americans / Silvio Torres-Saillant -- Filipino Americans / Augusto Espiritu -- German Americans / James M. Bergquist -- Haitian Americans / Marc Prou -- Irish Americans / Lawrence J. McCaffrey -- Italian Americans / Dominic Candeloro -- Jewish Americans / Edward S. Shapiro -- Korean Americans / Kyeyoung Park -- Mexican Americans / Matt S. Meier -- Polish Americans / Edward R. Kantowicz -- Scandinavian Americans / John Robert Christianson -- Vietnamese Americans / Hien Duc Do -- Bibliographical essay / John D. Buenker, Joseph D. Buenker, and Lorman A. Ratner.  Interest in ethnic studies and multiculturalism has grown considerably in the years since the 1992 publication of the first edition of this work. Co-editors Ratner and Buenker have revised and updated the first edition of Multiculturalism in the United States to reflect the changes, patterns, and shifts in immigration showing how American culture affects immigrants and is affected by them. Common topics that helped determine the degree and pace of acculturation for each ethnic group are addressed in each of the 17 essays, providing the reader with a comparative reference tool. Seven new ethnic groups are included: Arabs, Haitians, Vietnamese, Koreans, Filipinos, Asian Indians, and Dominicans. New essays on the Irish, Chinese, and Mexicans are provided as are revised and updated essays on the remaining groups from the first edition.

Subject Guide

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