Skip to Main Content
Michigan State University

History of the Family Around the World: Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

This is a guide to researching the history of the family around the world using reference works, bibliographies, periodical indexes, and primary sources. Last updated 06-08-2023

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Encyclopedia of Family Studies

4 volumes. Information useful for people in psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, history, law, medicine.  Entries address a wide scope of societal processes and pressures that influence families across time and space, paying particular attention to cross-cultural perspectives.  Further reading references.  Deals with global problems in family studies.

# International Encyclopedia of Marriage and the Family Main Library Reference HQ 9 .E52 2003 v. 1-4

Focus is on the current state and panoramic diversity of marriage and family life in an international context.

# Encyclopedia of Love, Courtship, and Sexuality through History Reference HQ 21 .G67125 2008 v. 1-6

# Dictionary of American History Remote Storage  E174 .D52 2003

Classic, in 10 volumes, gives an earlier perspective.

# Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups Main  E184.A1 H35

Dated now, but was a classic when published in 1980, so gives a perspective of scholarship at that time.

# Oxford Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History 

# Encyclopedia of African American History 1619-1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass

# Encyclopedia of African American History: 1896 to the Present 

# Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States Main E184.S75 O97 2005

Signed entries, by scholars, with further reading references. Entries for places, organizations, topics, persons, etc.

# Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean Greece and Rome Remote Storage  DE59 .C55 1988

Signed chapters, by specialists, with further reading references. This work is older; be sure to use other, newer sources as well. Historical summaries of Greece and of Rome. Chapters on land and sea, population, agriculture and food, technology, government and society, economics, religion, private and social life, women and family life, literary and performing arts, classical scholarship. Private and social life is in v. 2. Women and family life is in v. 3. There are many sub-parts to each of these chapters, on Greece and on Rome,: on attitudes towards sex, marriage, childhood, houses, birth control, etc.

#Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages Main D117 .O92 2010

Intended to replace the following; does so with varying degrees of success.

# Dictionary of the Middle Ages Main  D114 .D5 1982

Signed entries, by scholars, with further reading references. This is an older work; be sure to look for more recently written items also. Articles on topics, persons, events, places, etc. Has several articles on different families: Byzantine, Islamic, Western European, and Jewish. Also articles on family and family law, and family and marriage, Western European. Various other related topics have entries: annulment of marriage, antifeminism, betrothal, concubinage, consanguinity, contraception, courtly love, domesticity, inheritance, marriage.

# Europe 1450-1789, Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World Main Library Reference D 209 .E97 2004 v. 1-6

Covers the early modern period, between the end of the Middle Ages and the French Revolution. Signed articles, by scholars, with further reading references. Some articles are extensive. Has biographical as well as topical articles. Some black and white illustrations, especially of people. Generous cross references.

# Encyclopedia of European Social History from 1350-2000 Main Library Reference HN 373 .E63 2001 v. 1-6.

Link here goes to volume 4.  Other volumes have their own entries in Books and Media.  Extensive topical and period articles by scholars with further reading references, covering European social history from 14th c. to the present. Volume one covers methods and theoretical approaches, periods, and places. Volume two covers processes of social change, population and geography, cities, urbanization, rural life, state and society. Volume three covers social structure, protest, problems, reform, and crime. Volume four covers gender, family, age groups, sexuality, body, mind, work. Volume five covers culture, recreation, leisure, religion, education, everyday life. Volume 6, index. Within each of these categories are several chapters on aspects of the topics. No biographical entries.

Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World

Covers 1750 to the present, providing special attention to social, economic, cultural and political topics applicable to the time. Articles on countries, regions, and ethnic groups; themes involving social history, demography, family life, politics, economics, religion, thought, education, science and technology, and culture; events such as major wars; and extensive coverage of the United States.  50 maps. Provides information about and interpretation of major developments across particular regions both salient events and regional perspectives on common themes such as politics, demography, social class, and gender.

Workhouse Encyclopedia Main HV 8749 .G7 H54 2012

British Isles.  The poor went into the workhouse to live, where accommodation, food, and work were provided.  A form of public assistance used until the 1930s.

# Encyclopedia of Eastern Europe Reference DJK 6 .E53 2000

Coverage is from 1815-1989. Signed entries, by scholars, with further reading references. Covers Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania, not the former East Germany. Lengthy articles on these countries. Entries also on geography, history, government, economics, culture, trends, ideas, outside forces, individuals.

# Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History Main HC 15 .O94 2003 v. 1-5

Signed articles, by scholars, with further references. Both topical and biographical entries. Tries to be world inclusive, but a western emphasis predominates. Articles that deal with family life will focus on the economic dimension.

# Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society Reference HQ 767.84 .E53 2004 v. 1-3

Signed articles, by scholars, with further reading references. Concerned with history of childhood in the western world but also has articles on the present day, for example, interscholastic athletics and international organizations. A good place to check if you know you want to write about the experience of childhood in the west.

# Infancy in America; Boyhood in America; Girlhood in America; Adolescence in America Main and Faculty Book Coll. HQ 774 .I528 2001 v. 1-2; Remote Storage HQ 775 .B635 2001 v. 1-2; Main HQ 777 .G5745 2001 v. 1-2; Main HQ 796 .A33247 2001 v. 1-2

These volumes "offer a revitalizing new take on U.S. history, surveying current culture from the perspective of the family and incorporating insights from psychology, sociology, and medicine." Further reading references that also include web sites!

# Family in America: an Encyclopedia Main HQ 536 .H365 2001 v. 1-2

# Parenthood in America: an Encyclopedia Remote Storage HQ 755.8 .P3783 2000 v.1-2

# Greenwood Press Daily Life through History Series Main Library Reference cat. seps.

Not, strictly speaking, either an encyclopedia or dictionary, this is a series of books, each cataloged separately (meaning, each one has its own call number). In Books and Media, do a title search for the name of the series exactly as it appears here, then click on the link in the catalog for your title of choice.  This pulls up a list of the volumes we own. Searching in E Books and Journals will take you to links for the volumes that we have electronically.  Examples: Daily Life during the American Revolution, and Daily Life during the Black Death. Maybe there will be a volume suited to your needs.

# Encyclopedia of Asian History Reference DS 31 f.E53 1988 v. 1-4

Covers the areas we typically think of as Asia, including Iran, and Central Asia, but not the Middle East or Russia east of the Urals. Signed articles, by scholars, on topics and people, with minimal further reading references. Prepared under the auspices of the Asia Society, an American organization dedicated to educating Americans about Asia. Emphasizes the political, social, intellectual, and economic dimensions of history.

# Encyclopedia of Modern Asia  Reference DS 4 .E53 2002 v. 1-6

Signed articles, by scholars, with further reading references. East to west ranges from Japan to Turkey; south to north from Indonesia to Kazakhstan. Not much on Caucasia, Siberia or the Middle Eastern countries. Focus is from 1850 onwards. Typical dictionary arrangement, with topics, persons, places, events, and concepts arranged in one alphabetical sequence. Extensive index in v. 6 points to references about "marriage and family" in many entries. See v. 6, p. 393.

# Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World Main DS 35.53 .O96 2009 v. 1-6

Signed articles, by scholars, with further reading references. Designed to complement the Encyclopaedia of Islam by concentrating "on the ways Muslims have expressed themselves in the modern period [end of the 18th century onwards] through political and social action...", drawing "heavily on the insights of the social sciences as well as religion, history, and literature."

# Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa Area Studies 2 East DS 43 .E53 2004 v. 1-4

Signed entries, by scholars, with further reading references, in English. Entries for people, topics, concepts, institutions, groups, events, twenty-three countries, from 1800 to the present. This edition increased coverage of individual women and topics about gender.

Area Studies 2 East has a number of encyclopedias and dictionaries in the DS 102.8 area on Jewish history and life. Before and after this there are works on individual Middle Eastern countries.

# Mexico, an Encyclopedia of Contemporary Culture and History Area Studies 2 East  F 1234 .C67 2004

Signed articles, by scholars, with further reading references. Focus is on 20th-century Mexico.

Area Studies 2 East has many reference works on individual Central and Latin American countries near this book on Mexico.

# Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures, the Civilizations of Mexico and Central America Reference F 1218.6 .O95 2001 v. 1-3

Signed articles, by scholars, with further reading references. Entries for people, topics, events, concepts, from ancient times onwards, driven by anthropological perspectives.

# Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture Main  F 1406 .E53 1996 v. 1-5.

Online version is 2008.  Annotation is for 1996 ed. Signed entries, by scholars, with further reading references. Entries for persons, places, things, topics, events.