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HI 327 - Early Modern France


This guide ties in with the class assignment to research a famous figure from Enlightenment France. For further assistance, visit the Reference Desk at Geisel Library or contact the History liaison librarian.


Background Information

The encyclopedias below contain essays on many of these figures, which will provide you a basic understanding of their lives and their contributions to Enlightenment thought.  Some reference resources provide bibliographies at the ends of each entry or volume, which will point you to additional books and journal articles worth exploring.

Dictionary of the History of Ideas
     Ref CB5 .D52 (print version)
Includes a lengthy article about Enlightenment viewpoints on concepts such as liberty, nature, reason, and happiness.

Encyclopedia of Philosophy
     In Gale Virtual Reference Library

Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment
     Ref B802 .E53 (print version)

Europe — 1450 to 1789:  An Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World
     In Gale Virtual Reference Library

European Writers
     Ref PN501 .E9
Volumes 3 and 4 of this set contain lengthy essays on major Enlightenment thinkers.

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
     Ref B51 .R68 (print version)


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Geisel Library catalog
To find books written by your Enlightenment figure, conduct an Author search on the person's last name.  To locate secondary works about the individual, you can try both Subject and Keyword searching. Start by doing a Subject search on the person's name, typing the last name first. You may also wish to perform Keyword searching on the person's name, since this could unearth additional books in which the name appears in a chapter title.  Finally, you may want to find general books about Enlightenment France and check their indexes for mentions of your person.

Find books owned by other colleges and have them delivered to Geisel Library for your use.  As in the library catalog, you can do both Subject and Keyword searches on the person's name.  When you find a useful-looking book in WorldCat, you can click on the "Request via Interlibrary Loan" link in its WorldCat record. Books requested through WorldCat are usually delivered to Geisel Library in 7-10 days, so be sure to start your research early.


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Journal Articles

This project requires you to locate at least one academic journal article about your Enlightenment figure.  Start by searching the name of your figure as a Keyword in some of the databases below. You may find even more relevant results by searching the person's name as a Subject. To narrow your results, add keywords related to your paper topic, such as politics, freedom, or reason.

If you find a useful article for which no full-text link is available, click on WebBridge to see if the journal is available in Geisel Library or in full-text via another database. If the article isn't available, use the Interlibrary Loan link in the WebBridge window to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Articles requested via ILL will be delivered to your email inbox within about a week.

Historical Abstracts
A great starting point, since this database provides citations and abstracts to journal articles on non-U.S. history from 1450 to the present. Use the Historical Period From/To limiter to specify your time period of interest.

Academic Search Premier
This multi-disciplinary database offers scholarly journal articles and popular magazine articles on a wide range of topics.

Arts & Humanities Citation Index
This index provides citations and abstracts to more than 1,300 of the most significant journals in the arts and humanities.

Search here for full-text articles from major journals in the humanities and social sciences, including a number of important history journals.

Philosopher's Index
Search here if you are researching a philosophical thinker.  This database provides citations and abstracts for scholarly journal articles and books on all subfields of philosophy.

Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
Search here if you are researching a political theorist.  This database provides citations and abstracts to journal articles, books, and book chapters in political science.


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Primary Sources on the Web

The following websites contain online versions of texts written by great thinkers of the Enlightenment era in France. You may also find texts on other websites by searching in Google for the person's name along with keywords like "online books" or "online texts."

ARTFL Project
This is a searchable collection of mainly French-language texts that range from classic works of French literature to non-fiction writing, from the 18th to 20th centuries. Click on the ARTFL — FRANTEXT database to search for your figure as an Author.

These French-language digital archives were created by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and include nearly 100,000 digitized works and a similar number of pictures.  Go to the Advanced Search and search for your figure's name in the Author/Contributor field.

Google Books
Google has digitized several million books and made them accessible through their search engine. Most items published before 1922 can be read in their entirety, making this website a great resource for older primary source material. Go to Advanced Search, limit your search to "Full View" items, and enter your person's name into the Author search box.

Internet Modern History Sourcebook:  The Enlightenment
This website offers a wide array of Enlightenment texts organized by subjects, with key documents from the major French contributors during this time period.

Project Gutenberg
This website offers thousands of non-copyrighted works in online form, often in English translation. Use the Author search to see if there are any books by your Enlightenment figure.


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Citing Sources

See the library's Citing Sources guide for resources on how to properly cite research materials. Always confirm the style required by your instructor. 


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Book cover image for France in the Enlightenment

Silvia Shannon

Library Liaison
Jeff Waller

Background Information
Journal Articles
Primary Sources on the Web
Citing Sources

Subject Guide