What is background information?
Background information, or reference information, is the type of information you could get from Wikipedia. These resources will give you trustworthy overviews of a topic and provide you with basic things like dates, events and facts about your topic. Generally, you can think of this information in terms of the who, what, where and when of a topic.
Where to Find Background Information
- Gale eBooks This link opens in a new windowA database of full-text encyclopedias, almanacs, and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research. Gale
- MasterFILE Complete This link opens in a new windowDesigned specifically for public libraries, this multidisciplinary database provides full text for more than 2,000 general reference publications with full text information dating as far back as 1922. Covering virtually every subject area of general interest, it also contains full text for more than 1,000 reference books and over 164,400 primary source documents, as well as an Image Collection of over 502,000 photos, maps & flags. EBSCO
- Digital Sanborn Maps This link opens in a new windowProduced for over a century, more than 660,000 Sanborn maps chart the growth and development of more than 12,000 American towns and cities. Sanborn maps are large-scale plans of a city or town, drawn at a scale of 50 feet to an inch. They were created to assist fire insurance companies as they assessed the risk associated with insuring a particular property. The maps list street blocks and building numbers including numbers in use at the time the map was made and previous numbers. Proquest
- Gazetteer FilesThe U.S. Gazetteer Files provide a listing of all geographic areas for selected geographic area types. The files include geographic identifier codes, names, area measurements, and representative latitude and longitude coordinates.
- LOC Digital Collections: MapsHistorical map collections from the Library of Congress from the 16th century through the Revolution, Civil and and World War I
- Perry-Castaneda Library Map CollectionSite prepared by the University of Texas Perry-Castaneda Library as a guide to their map collection. Rich with links to online maps
- ArcGISArcGIS.com is a Web site for working with maps and other types of geographic information. Visit the site to create maps; find and use maps, applications, and tools; and share your maps and applications with others. Within the site, you will find applications for building and sharing maps. You will also find useful basemaps, data, applications, and tools that you can view and use, plus communities you can join
- National Geographic MapsOnline access to National Geographic's extensive collection of world maps. Also has map puzzles and interactive maps for education
- Old Maps OnlineThe OldMapsOnline Portal is an easy-to-use gateway to historical maps in libraries around the world. It allows the user to search for online digital historical maps across numerous different collections via a geographical search. Search by typing a place-name or by clicking in the map window, and narrow by date. The search results provide a direct link to the map image on the website of the host institution.
- Global Road Warrior This link opens in a new windowPractical business travel guide to over 175 countries. In addition to basic geographical information such as climate and demographics, has great information about doing business in the selected country. Information includes business ethics, how meetings are conducted, proper business attire & attitudes toward time and punctuality. Social and cultural information such as education, language, music, and food are included. Technical information about internet connections, communications, health and medical for the traveler is also included. World Trade Press
- World FactbookThe U.S. government's complete geographical handbook, featuring full-color maps and flags of all nations. Each country profile tracks such demographics as population, ethnicity and literacy rates, as well as political, geographical and economic data. Provided by the CIA
- Country Studies: Area HandbooksThe Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world and examines the interrelationships of those systems and how they are shaped by cultural factors. Provided by the Library of Congress