Beginning Your Research: Encyclopedias & General Reference Sources
Information about Latin America can be found in a variety of formats and disciplines. Much of what you find will be in Spanish or Portuguese.
An excellent starting place on more general topics related to Latin America is World Scholar: Latin America and the Caribbean. It includes the full text of a combination of contemporary and historical documents designed to reveal a true depiction of the nature, integrity and culture of Latin America, historical and contemporary maps and statistics, and journal articles on a variety of humanities and social science topics.
For current topics (politics, economics, demography, social movements) you will rely more on journal articles and news resources. For historical or cultural topics (history, literature, anthropology) you will find books to be very important. Some of the databases (e.g. Handbook of Latin American Studies) include both books and journals. Much information is available electronically, including primary resource material that has been digitized. A good place to begin to look for electronic information on the web is LANIC (Latin American Network Information Center) from the University of Texas which has reviewed their listings to ensure the information is both current and authoritative.
The Encyclopedia of Latin American History is a six volume work with brief articles that usually include a short bibliography to get one started. It provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary view of Latin American history and culture from prehistoric times to the present. Covers cultural issues and includes numerous biographical profiles of important figures in politics, letters and the arts.
Hunter has the Cambridge Histories Online which are multivolume works on Latin American History and economics. The database contains over 290 volumes published since 1960, equating to around 196,000 pages. There are numerous bibliographic essays on topics suggesting important works by accepted experts in the field.