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Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Reference

Unless otherwise noted, these resources are available at the Art Institute of Chicago, the SAIC campus, or from other locations with an ARTIC username and password.

This international biographical database of artists contains more than a million artist entries. The database covers painters, graphic designers, sculptors, architects, designers, photographers, calligraphers, craftsmen and many more.

Types of material covered: Biographical information on artists

An online dictionary of artist signatures, which includes photographs of signatures from works of art. Through a unique partnership with police authorities around the world Art Signature Dictionary also is the world's only database of art forgery. Also includes biographies for some artists. Free access to signatures and biographies; auction results require a subscription.

Access note: Free access. Available to everyone.

Allows one to see hand-copied signatures by artist name or do reverse look-ups by initials or monograms. Incorporates the contents of all 10 of John Castagno's signature books as well as additional corrections and unprinted research.

Types of material covered: Artists' signatures
Dates covered: Provides signatures for artists working from 1400 to the present. International in scope.

Benezit is one of the most comprehensive biographical dictionaries in the field of art history, including coverage of artists across all media, from painters and sculptors to calligraphers, ceramicists, illustrators, installation artists, and performance artists. It includes over 190,000 entries from the first English print edition (2006), plus revisions and new biographies exclusively available online.

Also included are artists' signatures, monograms, stamps of sale, detailed museum listings, bibliographies, exhibition information, and auction records

Benezit is updated three times per year to reflect new scholarship, additions to the bibliographies, and corrections. It is bundled with other Oxford databases, like Grove Art, and can be searched in conjunction or on its own.

Provides answers to style, format, and editing questions related to manuscript preparation.

Quick Guide
Chicago Style Q&A

Types of material covered: Includes the 15th and 16th editions of the Chicago Manual of Style, the Chicago Style Q & A resource, and a Quick Guide with examples of citations.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts' database is a unique interactive database containing authoritative information on 18,000 women visual artists of all time periods and nationalities. 

Types of material covered: Full-text biographical information and some images.
Access note: Free access. Available to everyone.

Online thesaurus that provides geographic coordinates for locations worldwide, and links out to related research materials and objects in other DAI catalogs. Supports research in the archaeological sciences and classical studies.

Types of material covered: Books, journals, and images.
Access note: Free access. Available to everyone.

A searchable biographical dictionary of major art historians of western art. This source is intended as a beginning point for learning the background of each art historian included. Each entry includes a bibliography.

Access note: Free access. Available to everyone.

This portal allows users to search freely accessible digital surrogates of works held by libraries, museums, and archives across the country. Contributors include the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives, the Yale Center for British Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Walters Art Gallery, the New York Public Library and others.

Types of material covered: Images, books, and other digitized sources
Access note: Free access. Available to everyone.

Provides access to more than 72,000 articles from the print version of the Encyclopedia, as well as access to more than 225,000 definitions from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

Types of material covered: Encyclopedia articles, timelines, atlases, statistics.
Dates covered: Current edition.

The British Library's electronic theses online service provides access to over 300,000 theses and dissertations. Many UK institutions support Open Access to their theses, so their digital and digitized theses are free to the researcher. A small number of participating institutions may not be able to offer Open Access and in this case the researcher may have to pay for the digitization.

Access note: Some content is fee based.

General encyclopedia written at the popular level. Includes full-text articles and biographies.

Types of material covered: Encyclopedia articles.
Dates covered: Updated annually.

This database provides biographical information for over 400 women artists who worked throughout Illinois between 1840 and 1940. Users can search by keyword or browse by name.

Dates covered: 1840-1940
Access note: Free access. Available to everyone.

Provides access to The Grove Dictionary of Art, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, Oxford's Encyclopedia of AestheticsThe Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, and The Benezit Dictionary of Artists. These can all be searched simultaneously or separately.

Types of material covered: Encyclopedic coverage of all aspects of fine and applied arts and architecture. Also included are biographies, images, and dictionary entries.
Dates covered: All eras
Technical tip: When emailing an article from Oxford Art Online, first save it as a pdf on your desktop and then attach the pdf to your email.

Provides detailed etymologies for nearly every word in the English language.

Types of material covered: Word definitions and etymologies.
Dates covered: Current edition, updated quarterly.

Provides access to Grove Music Online, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, and The Oxford Companion to Music. All three can be searched simultaneously or separately.

Types of material covered: Encyclopedia articles, illustrations, musical examples.
Dates covered: All eras and cultures are covered.

SAH Archipedia is an authoritative online encyclopedia of the built world published by the Society of Architectural Historians and the University of Virginia Press, and contains histories, photographs, and maps for more than 8,500 structures and places