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ENGL 101: Kavaloski: Historical Background

This guide will help you during your research process for your paper on Art Spiegelman's Maus I and II.

Subject Guide

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Sarah Lane
Contact:
Southworth Library Learning Commons
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Using historical background information

Using historical background information

For what reasons would you need to find historical information for an English paper?  How can you use historical information to support your argument? This section details some important points about using historical information in your research. 

  • Background knowledge: Before you can make an argument about the setting of the story, it's important to understand the setting. Do you have a solid understanding of the Holocaust, including dates, key figures, causes and effects? Beginning with strong background knowledge will help you understand and appreciate the story and help you make strong arguments. 
  • Citations: It's important to back up your claims with citations. If you're referring to historical events, citing specific sources helps strengthen your argument. If you need help creating MLA-style citations, refer to the Citations tab. 
  • Secondary Source: Remember, historical background information comes from secondary sources. Secondary sources retell, explain, or analyze events after they have happened. Historical background is helpful for preparing you with the overview of a topic like the Holocaust but does not give you firsthand information the way an interview with an eyewitness would. 

Recommended Databases

Encyclopedias are excellent sources of historical background information. SLLC gives you access to Britannica Online, a comprehensive encyclopedia with a strong collection of articles related to the Holocaust. 

  • Britannica Online: An encyclopedia containing videos, interactive timelines, statistics on every nation in the world, country comparisons, world atlases, notable quotations and a gateway to the classic books.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library: A reference database that contains thousands of encyclopedia articles, including articles from the Encyclopaedia Judaica.

In addition to Britannica Online, SLLC also has many print books and electronic books about the history of the Holocaust. You can use ROOsearch to find these books. 

Finally, you can find helpful background information on reputable, academic websites. It's important to carefully evaluate the reliability of websites when using them for research. If you need help, check out the Evaluating Online Sources tab.