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COMPSTD (Comparative Studies) 2367

Why Encyclopedias and Handbooks?

Let's say you have to write a paper on the topic of the clothing of the Amish. Encyclopedias can give you background information that looks like this: 

Amish from The Encyclopedia of Religion

For fundamentalist Christians, such as the Anabaptist groups (Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites) whose religious precepts include the requirement that they be uniquely separate from the larger society, dress is used to show that separation. In these ethno-religious sectarian groups, dress is often hyper-conservative or may even be a form of fossilized fashion, where the garments look much like those worn by their ancestors hundreds of years ago.



Among America's sectarian societies is the Old Order Amish, whose dress is used to visually separate them from outsiders. Amish women and girls are known for wearing long, loose dresses made from solid-colored fabric that are pinned rather than buttoned. These dresses are covered with a cape over the bust and apron; in winter a shawl is worn for warmth. Following the perceived biblical mandate of 1 Corinthians 11:2–6, their hair is not cut but is parted and put in a bun; over that a white prayer covering is worn. Differences between Amish communities are seen in the pleating of the prayer covering. Pants, cosmetics, and jewelry are not allowed.

Amish men and boys are allowed to have buttons on their solid-colored shirts, but they often have hooks and eyes on outerwear such as jackets and vests. They wear dark-colored suits, "plain coats" (straight-cut coats without lapels) and broad-fall trousers with suspenders, like those worn centuries ago. Hats are broad-brimmed. In winter, black felt hats are worn, in summer the hats are of straw. Their hair is worn in a bowl cut, and they are not allowed to wear mustaches. Once married, men grow beards.

Source Citation   (MLA 7th Edition) 
Arthur, Linda B. "Clothing: Dress and Religion in America's Sectarian Communities." Encyclopedia of Religion. Ed. Lindsay Jones. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. 1834-1837. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.

This is useful because you can now see that other words RELATED to Amish clothing include, dress and social change or specific religions like Anabaptist.  These types of sources give you background so that you can get more specific (including terms to search with) as you look for books and journal articles.  These are also good for when you stumble across concepts that are unfamiliar to you.

Searchable E-Encyclopedia Collections

These are searchable collections of encyclopedias.  You are searching more than one encyclopedia at a time.

Searching for Encyclopedias or Handbooks

Use these sources to locate encyclopedias or handbooks in OSU Libraries.