HistoryHistory encompasses the academic study of the past of the human race, stretching back as far as the earliest written records. Oxford Reference provides more than 143,000 concise definitions and in-depth, specialist encyclopedic entries that cover notable eras, events, and individuals that have shaped our history, as well as the historical methodology used to research them.

Our coverage comprises authoritative, highly accessible information on the current understanding of historical events and influences, not to mention the very latest terminology, concepts, theories, and techniques relating to all areas of historical study—from periodization, historiography, religious history, and military history, to the study of social history, economic history, and local and family history. Written by trusted experts for researchers at every level, entries are complemented by illustrative line drawings and maps wherever useful.

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                               A Dictionary of World History    The Oxford Companion to British History   The Oxford Classical Dictionary   Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History

See all the History books available on Oxford Reference >

Sample resources

Discover history on Oxford Reference with the below sample content:

Browse timelines of every era in history: from ancient times to post-1945

Quotations about history and the past from Oxford Essential Quotations

The history of the book in Sub-Saharan Africa from The Oxford Companion to the Book

An exploration of Victorianism from The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World

An essay on Native American warfare from The Oxford Companion to American Military History

'The Battle of Trafalgar' from The Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History

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Featured author

Rebecca Lenihan

Rebecca Lenihan

Rebecca Lenihan is an historian of 19th and early 20th Century Scotland and New Zealand. She is the author of From Alba to Aotearoa: Profiling New Zealand’s Scots migrants 1840-1920 (Otago University Press: Dunedin, 2015) and presently (2015-2018) a post-doctoral fellow on the Royal Marsden Fund project ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Settler: Garrison and Empire in the Nineteenth Century’ (see soldiersofempire.co.nz). She has authored a set of quick reference entries spanning dozens of subject areas around the central topic of New Zealand, all of which have been published on Oxford Reference within our Dictionary Plus titles.

Author Q&A

In your opinion, which is the most fascinating entry you have written for Oxford Reference and why?

Probably the one that catches other people’s attention most firmly when I tell them about it is Haast’s eagle. It is a very clear example of the impact of humans on nature, and of the unimagined consequences of actions that trickle down, and it’s sad to think that the world lost such magnificent creatures so, relatively, recently. On the other hand I suppose it would be quite terrifying going for even a gentle day walk in the New Zealand bush if they were still around! With such a wing span you could imagine them quite easily carrying a hobbit away from Lord of the Rings’ Mount Doom!

What do you think is the most commonly held misconception in your subject area?

That New Zealand has no history, or that New Zealand history isn’t worth studying because it is so brief. Not only do such claims entirely ignore the hundreds of years of human habitation of the islands by Maori and Moriori pre-European contact, it also dismisses the equally rich history of the past 250 odd years since European contact. Certainly the comment I hear most often at the end of my third-year university course on New Zealand Social History is ‘I had no idea so much had happened in New Zealand!’

Which figure in your subject’s history would you most like to invite to a dinner party? What would you ask him/her?

That’s a tough decision, but I think I’d choose Thomas Mackenzie. He didn’t just live through some very interesting times in New Zealand’s history but was among those making decisions that shaped New Zealand’s history too, as a local councillor, a Member of Parliament, briefly as Prime Minister, and as a staunch advocate for conservation. Alongside all that he also explored quite a lot of remote bush around New Zealand, so I think he’d have some pretty interesting stories to tell. I’d just start with some very broad question and keep prompting him with other little questions over the course of the evening to encourage him to keep telling his tales until the wee small hours.

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Featured blogs


A timeline of the dinosaurs
April 28th 2016
Take a crash course on the history of the dinosaurs with our infographic.

A history of the International Space Station
February 16th 2016
We've collected together a brief history of this incredible feat in human engineering, politics, and bravery.

For more history blog posts delve in to the OUPblog archives >

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