dcsimg History Study Center - More about Study Units
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More about Study Units

Study Units provide in-depth introductions to over 500 historical topics. Each Study Unit begins with a short, illustrated introduction to a topic followed by a page of links to reference works, biographies, maps, primary sources, journal articles, images, video clips and Web sites, making it easy to find relevant content and set it in historical context.

Every Study Unit brings together a range of between 30-150 primary and secondary sources carefully selected by our team of editors for their relevance to the topic. Study Units include both secondary reference material from books and journals, and also primary source documents, images and video clips. This helps to reveal differing contemporary accounts and academic interpretations of history, providing a wider historical context and enabling a fuller understanding of topics. Study Units are periodically updated with new content.

For example, a researcher studying the Great Depression can find reference articles providing a factual introduction, primary sources including Hoover's presidential missives on the state of the nation, foreign reports on the American situation and original video footage of the Bonus Army March.

Study Unit contents


The introduction is an outline of the topic, introducing key issues, events and personalities. Editors either select a suitable article from the available reference sources or write the introduction themselves.

Topic Overviews

If there is a topic overview relevant to the Study Unit available in History Study Center , it will be linked at the top of the Study Unit.


This section contains articles from the reference works in History Study Center which illuminate key themes, events, and places. Reference articles offer students a quick source of key factual information and provide the essential background knowledge for those new to a topic.


Most items in this section are articles profiling relevant personalities, selected from the reference books available in History Study Center . Contemporary obituaries of historical figures may also be included. Each entry is given a brief caption.


Articles in this section include historiographical surveys of the topic and profiles of relevant historians, selected from the reference books available in History Study Center .


Static and animated maps are included wherever possible in Study Units in order to illustrate specific events relevant to the topic and provide geographical context. They are selected from the variety of historical atlases available in History Study Center .

Primary Sources

There are many different primary source collections drawn upon in History Study Center , from archives of historical periodicals to subject-specific sourcebooks. Editors select a broad range of material from the available collections. Available key sources for a particular topic are always selected, but as well as these core documents editors are encouraged to select more unusual material which brings the subject to life (and which users are unlikely to have access to from other sources). Sources should normally be written as soon as possible after the events they describe. Captions are created when necessary to explain the title or put the source into context. Many of the primary sources are selected from the historical sourcebooks included in History Study Centre and can also be found using the Documents search, while others are only available via the Study Units.


Images are chosen from the collections of Getty Images, the Bridgeman Art Library, and Magnum Photos. All the images in Study Units are also included in the Multimedia search. One image should be chosen to go at the top of the page; this is intended to be as representative of the topic as possible. All images are given short introductory captions and a longer caption to put them in context. Most images in Study Units are selected for their value as a historical resource, for example photographs and contemporary cartoons. However, captioned images can also be used to supplement reference material in order to ensure that all key areas of the topic are covered. The captions should indicate if an image was created significantly later than the people and events they portray.


Video clips are selected for suitable topics from the WPA Film Library. The available footage dates back as far as the late nineteenth century. A caption is written describing each clip and placing it in its historical context. The clips range from footage of the Second World War and other major historical events, to television commercials and public service broadcasts from the 1950s.

Journal articles

This section presents articles relevant to the topic selected from over 300 journals that license their content to ProQuest. Many articles are drawn from the journals for which complete issues can be searched and browsed in History Study Center, but there are also numerous articles selected from other titles and from journal backfiles. Both up-to-date articles on a topic and important backfile articles are included. Study Units are regularly updated to include recent articles.

Web links

Editors choose a selection of links to other pages on the Web with value to historians interested in a particular Study Unit. Unlike the Web sites which are included in the Multimedia search, the links in Study Units will point to the most relevant pages on a site rather than indexing sites at homepage level. Sites should be accurate, objective and not overtly commercial. Sites from academic institutions, museums and respected media organisations are preferred, though other sources are not excluded if our editors consider them to be of sufficient quality.

Document Based Questions

Document Based Questions have been included for some of the most widely-studied topics. These provide between five and ten sources on a topic and ask a question which students could attempt to answer with reference to the documents.


Roughly five items are selected as highlights for each Study Unit. These items should be taken from a variety of resources and be suitable as a starting point for students. They might include reference or journal articles which provide a good overview of the topic, key documents or pieces of scholarship, biographies or images of central personalities, as well as unusual items which may be of particular interest. All highlighted items are given captions.