Reference -- dictionary and encyclopedia -- resources are an excellent place to begin research because they provide background information about a subject.
Checking reference resources first will help you
- get an overview of the subject.
- note key concepts/developments.
- identify significant individuals.
- see a chronology/timeline.
- discern connections/interrelationships with other developments.
- develop a list of search terms.
- find bibliographies -- sources for more information.
The library has thousands of reference resources both in print and online. The collections in the list below are often good starting points.