Theatre: Encyclopedias & Reference Books

This guide provides links to basic theatre research: history, design, acting, production, scripts, videos, and careers.

Encyclopedia Databases

These are general encyclopedias that will provide cursory background information about nearly any topic.

Types of Reference Books

All reference books can be general or on very specific topics. If you can imagine it, there's probably a reference book about it.

  • Dictionaries: Brief definitions of words, technical terminology.
  • Encyclopedias: Background information about a topic.
    • Articles are written by experts, who often point to other source materials.
  • Almanacs: Tiimelines, statistics, and factual data.
  • Handbooks: Brief information/lists for facts, formulas, technical information, etc.
  • Biographical Dictionaries: Brief background information about a person or named group.
  • Yearbooks: Annual summary of events, awards, and notable changes (including obituaries).
  • Directories: Contact information and list of services/resource provided by organizations, often updated annually.

Some Key Theatre History Reference Books

We have hundreds of encyclopedias in print editions on topics ranging from American Theatre to Zombies! To find them:

  1. Go to Usearch, the library catalog
  2. Search for: Encyclopedias AND ...
  3. Replace the .... with a concept or research topic. For example: Encyclopedias AND Women
  4. If needed, limit your results using the Resource Type and Subject options in the left-hand column.
  5. If you see a tab under the title that says "Location & Request", the encyclopedia is available in print. If you see a link for "Online Access" it's available as an e-book.
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