Your AP teacher may require a short research assignment, or you may decide to tackle one of the limited research papers listed earlier. In any event, AP students should be familiar with the basic reference sources in American history.
The most important reference work is America: History and Life. Published since 1964 by the American Bibliographical Center (ABC-CLIO), this is a comprehensive bibliographic index to articles, book reviews, and dissertations in American history. It provides short abstracts (summaries) of articles in hundreds of history journals. It’s well worth your time to look over America: History and Life and learn how to use its indexes. Reading the abstracts of the articles on a particular topic will save you considerable time The reference section of the college library is the best place to find sources of information on people, places, and events in American history. In addition to America: History and Life, you should be familiar with the Harvard Guide to American History. Originally published in 1954 and revised in 1974, the guide includes general works and specialized monographs on the major topics and periods of American history. There are also sections on historical sources, methodology, and historiography (the history of historical writing). Interpreting maps and statistical data are important skills for doing well on the AP exam. You should look over a good historical atlas such as James Truslow Adams’s Atlas of American History to supplement your ongoing review of the maps in your text. Many of the charts, tables, and graphs in textbooks and on the exam are based on the data in Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970. Published by the Bureau of the Census, it contains statistical tables from 1610 covering important economic and social developments. Other useful reference works include:
The American Heritage Encyclopedia of American History, edited by John Mack Faragher.
Dictionary of American History, edited by James Truslow Adams.
Encyclopaedia of American Facts and Dates.
Encyclopedia of American History, edited by Richard B. Morris.
Great Events from History, American Series, edited by Frank N. Magill.
The Reader’s Companion to American History, edited by Eric Foner and John A. Garraty.
This list is far from exhaustive. Your AP teacher or the reference librarian can suggest other sources specifically on your research topic.