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American Studies: Gilded Age, Industrialization and Progressivism in the U.S. - Smith: Background Information

A research guide to get you started investigating the era of U.S. industrialization during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Background Information

Background information provides basic facts, history, descriptions, and concepts about your topic. 

Use sources like

  • encyclopedias,
  • dictionaries, and
  • handbooks

to get a general overview of your topic. Use this information to help narrow and focus your research topic.

Look for the big picture
Encyclopedias can be good starting points for information which will introduce you to major concepts on a broad topic. Lengthy articles can outline the subdivisions of a topic, give different perspectives and report recent trends or scholarship.

Get the facts
Important names, dates, places etc. are often mentioned in background sources.

Learn the lingo
Look for key terms, terminology and definitions. Keep these terms in mind when you begin searching for your topic in online databases or the web.