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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

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 16th and 17th 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.

This online dictionary includes definitions for a wide range of terms relating to the visual arts.

Types of material covered: Art materials and techniques

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.

A comprehensive survey of the major concepts relating to the visual arts.

Types of material covered: All aspects of the visual arts

This comprehensive reference work includes entries on architecture, art, and urban planning, as well as neighborhood histories and articles on art societies and organizations. Special features include a biographical dictionary, dictionary of Chicago businesses, timeline of Chicago history, and several interpretive essays. Produced by the Chicago History Museum, the Newberry Library, and Northwestern University, the Encyclopedia was designed as a print and digital publication from the beginning; the print volume is available in the open shelf reference collection in the reading room.

Types of material covered: Brief encyclopedic entries and longer interpretive essays on Chicago's development, history, and inhabitants.
Dates covered: 1820-2000
Access note: Free Access. Available to everyone.

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.

The Getty Research Institute's structured vocabularies provide terminology and other information about art objects, artists, concepts, and places significant to the study of art, architecture, and material culture. They provide preferred names, terms, and synonyms for people, places, and things; serve as knowledge bases that demonstrate the links and paths between concepts; and contain detailed and contextual knowledge on objects, artists, concepts, and places. All of the vocabularies are freely available online.

Types of material covered: Structured terminology for architecture, art, design, and material culture
Access note: Free Access. Available to everyone.

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.

More than 15,000 news, business, and legal sources, including the current New York Times full-text, U.S. Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1790, and international newspapers.

Types of material covered: Regional, national, and international newspapers, wire services, magazines, almanacs, and biographical dictionaries.
Technical tip: This database will replace LexisNexis in 2019.

Provides access to The Grove Dictionary of Art and The Benezit Dictionary of Artists. Comprehensive art encyclopedia that includes extensive artists' biographies. Contains over 200,000 articles and 15,000 images. 

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.