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Information Literacy History: Bibliographic databases

Historical abstracts

Historical Abstracts is the most important bibliographic database for the post-medieval period in history. The database contains literature about the history of the entire world, except the United States and Canada, from 1450 up to today. It contains references to articles from more than 1.700 journals; these are all essential historical journals from all over the world but with a certain Anglo-American bias.

The language employed by Historical Abstracts is English.The search screens are in English as is the controlled vocabulary.

The ADVANCED SEARCH in particular offers many search options. You can limit your search to specific search fields in the description, you can use controlled vocabulary, called SUBJECT TERMS in HA. In addition, you can filter by specific publication types, peer-reviewed publications and by year.

For an effective search it is essential to be able to search by the historical period. For each publication HA indicates the historical period the publication is about. On the ADVANCED SEARCH screen you will find an extra feature: boxes for searching by historical period. When you want to search for a time range you type the first and last year of your period in the fields Year and to Year. This way the system can define exactly which publications match your search. This gives a much more precise search result.

Searching for a historical period is NOT the same as searching for the year of publication. Searching for a historical period relates to the topic.

HA has various indexes, but if you want to find out what the relevant controlled vocabulary is for your topic we advise you to to first do a search with your own search words and then to take a look at a relevant article to see which terms are mentioned in the SUBJECT TERMS. Then continue your search using HA's subject terms.

Other indexes used by HA are:

  • Author: author's name
  • Document Type,  i.e. abstract, article, book chapter and more
  • Geographic Term: countries, areas, cities and more
  • People: famous and not-so-famous people in history

Apart from browsing through the various indexes it is also possible in the Advanced Search to search in fields as presented in the image on the right (see image).

Link to Historical Abstracts

If you need more information on searching in HA please use the online help at the top right part of the screen. The online tutorials supplied by the provider (EBSCO) are also very useful.

EBSCOhost Basic Search - Tutorial

EBSCOhost Advanced Searching - Tutorial

International Medieval Bibliography

The International Medieval Bibliography (IMB) is the leading bibliography for the European Middle Ages (c.400-1500). The database contains (descriptions of) articles from journals and contributions to conference proceedings as well as other academic collections.

The IMB contains over 490.000 publications, which are all arranged by period, subject and place. IMB has an Advanced Search option.This enables you to search by subject, persons and family name, place, century.

Using the Browse option enables you to browse the index from any search field.

Clicking on the Coverage button allows you to see which journals have been included in the IMB.

The IMB is linked to the Bibliographie de Civilisation Médiévale database. This is a bibliography of books about the Middle Ages. Both databases are searched simultaneously.

Link to IMB

The IMB has an online help module

One point of criticism: there has not been a contact person from the Netherlands on the editorial staff of the IMB for quite some time now. New Dutch publications are included only very slowly, or not al all. Another possible way of finding titles on the history of the Netherlands is by using the German bibliography Jahresberichte für deutsche Geschichte. This bibliography contains numerous publications about Germany's border regions, including the Netherlands.

America: History and Life

America: history & life is the leading bibliographic database for the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory up to today. The database contains references to literature from over 1.700 journals. Together, America: history & life and Historical Abstracts cover the history of the entire world. Like Historical Abstracts, this database is hosted by EBSCO and its functionality is exactly the same as that of Historical Abstracts.

Link to America: History & Life

America History and Life [Saint Rose Library]

The History LibGuides can help you find relevant databases

The University of Groningen Library offers access to several bibliographic databases that can be used for finding publications. To guide students to the available resources for their field of study the library offers online guides: LibGuides

To find out which database is most suitable for your topic, you can consult the History LibGuides. These libguide lists the most important (bibliographic) databases for your field of study.

There are several period LibGuides for History:


and one specific LibGuide (in Dutch):


Another interesting LibGuide for History students is