Reference Tools

Ask a librarian for the best reference sources for your needs.


Available online through Brandeis Library. Covers religious, classical, and historical themes, figures of moral allegory, and characters from romantic poetry that appeared throughout paintings and sculpture in Western art before and after the Renaissance.


More than 600,000 biographical entries covering international figures from all time periods and areas of study. Includes reference content, videos, audio selections, images, primary sources, and magazine and journal articles from hundreds of major periodicals and newspapers.
Online at; requires free registration to loan. Presents biographical information on more than thirty thousand important, celebrated, or notorious figures from the last five thousand years.
Offers over 60,000 biographies, 72 million words, and 11,000 portraits of significant, influential or notorious figures who shaped British history.

Research Guides & Library Support

This guide provides tips for effective research and information about the different recommended library resources available for locating sources in Brandeis University Writing Seminars.

These discipline-specific guides provide recommended resources and research tips that will also be useful to your students as they develop and investigate their research paper topics.

The Brandeis Library has a wealth of resources to help you and your students begin their research. Check this page for a good overview of what they have to offer.


Contains bilingual dictionaries for English, French, German, Irish, Italian, Latin, Spanish, and Welsh.

Basic online desk reference; also offers word games, quizzes, and helpful blog posts on word usage.
Includes more than 350,000 words, phrases, and senses, and hundreds of explanatory notes.
The definitive record of the English language, complete with timelines and a historical thesaurus.
The most authoritative dictionary of slang from the 20th and 21st centuries; covers over 6,000 English slang words and expressions.
A crowdsourced online dictionary for slang words and phrases. NB: Includes decidedly NSFW expressions, definitions, and examples.


Authoritative encyclopedia that includes a world atlas, country comparison tool, academic database resources, and a world factbook.

Includes reference works for abbreviations, countries, flags, maps, etc.

A crowd-sourced encyclopedia that is a useful first lookup, but not a valid academic source (find out why – external link to Harvard Guide to Using Sources). All information within it needs to be corroborated with acceptable sources.

Global Issues (Gale in Context)

Hub that integrates news, global viewpoints, reference materials, country information, primary source documents, videos, statistics, etc. to help readers explore issues within government, law, health, science and technology, society and culture, and more.

History and Archival Assistance

Reference content, millions of news and periodical articles, and more than 5,500 rare and vital primary source documents that range from slave journals to presidential papers are aligned to curriculum and provide many options for an exploration of U.S. history.

Rare primary sources, reliable reference, and multimedia content are aligned to curriculum and put this vast subject into context for students. A range of topics such as Aztecs, Industrial Revolution, Silk Road, the Buddha, Space Race, and more provide a wide perspective across the globe.

A useful blog post on understanding common terms and abbreviations encountered in historical periodicals.

Oxford Bibliographies

Offers exclusive, authoritative research guides across a variety of subject areas. Combining the best features of an annotated bibliography and a high-level encyclopedia, this cutting-edge resource directs researchers to the best available scholarship across a wide variety of subjects.

Oxford Reference

Spans 25 different subject areas and brings together 2 million digitized entries across Oxford University Press’s Dictionaries, Companions and Encyclopedias.

SAGE Reference

Offers an expansive range of SAGE Book, Business Case, Reference and Video titles within the Social Sciences.

Science (Gale in Context)

Integrating millions of full-text articles that include national and global publications, 200+ science experiments, 300+ interactive simulations, other multimedia, and top reference content, Science is updated daily and offers over 600 pages on topics across the curriculum, covering biology, chemistry, earth and environmental science, physics, and more.