World Religions

This finding tool will help you begin your research on world religions. You may find you want to research a particular religion, like Islam or Buddhism, or perhaps the role of religions in a particular country. Primary sources, like sacred texts, can be important in your research, too.

We can't fit every resource about World Religions on to this list! A topic guide is just the beginning of building your bibliography.

Reference materials

This is the place to start any research project. Reference books offer short, authoritative information on every topic. These books must be used in the library. Most contain bibliographies of important books on your topic. A good first stop would be any of the standard print encyclopedias in the Beaver collection: Encyclopedia Americana, World Book or Britannica. Sacred texts, like the Holy Bible or the Koran, can be found in the reference section.


Breuilly, Elizabeth, O'Brien, Joanne, and Palmer, Martin. (1997). Religions of the world: the illustrated guide to origins, beliefs, traditions and festivals. 160 pages. REF 291.B76 1997 1 volume with index.
Ellwood, Robert S. (2007). The encyclopedia of world religions. 519 pages. REF 200.3.En1 2007 1 volume with index.
Levinson, David. (2000). The Wilson chronology of the world's religions: a record of the development and spread of religions around the world. 688 pages. REF 200.202.L57 2000 1 volume with comprehensive timeline and index.
Melton, J. Gordon and Baumann, Martin. (2002). Religions of the world: a comprehensive encyclopedia of beliefs and practices. 4 volumes. REF 291.R27 2002 Four volumes, with index.
Smart, Ninian. (1999). Oxford atlas of the world's religions. 240 pages. REF 200.At6 1 volume with index.


General Reference Center Gold Use to find full-text articles on immigration, immigration law, and information on opposition to immigration. Search for a specific religion (ex. Islam) or use broad subject terms like world religion.
Routledge Reference Resources This database offers excellent resources on religion.


Most books on world religions can be found in the 290s. For general books on world religions, examine the 291s. Books on specific religions (ex. Buddhism or Judaism) or topics, can be found in the 290s, but check our catalog because these books can be scattered throughout the library. For books on theology and philosophy, browse the lower 200s. For topics on the occult, look in 133.

Corona, Laurel. (2003). Religions of the world: Judaism. 127 pages. 296.C81 2003 with index.
Eckel, Malcolm David. (2002). Buddhism: origins, beliefs, practices, holy texts, sacred places. 112 pages. 294.3.Ec5 2002 with index.
Parrinder, Geoffrey. (1971). World religions: from ancient history to the present. 528 pages. 291.W89 with index.
Smith, Huston. (1991). The world's religions. 391 pages. 291.Sm5 1991 with index.
Wheatcroft, Andrew. (2004). Infidels: a history of the conflict between Christendom and Islam. 427 pages. 261.27.W56 2004 with index.


Expanded Academic ASAP
Ancient and Medieval History: Facts of File Search for topics on religion in early history, like Ancient Greece or philosophy of the Middle Ages.
Issues and Controversies

Internet sites

Many religious groups host their own sites, so be sure to look for these web pages, which have information and links to other resources.

American Religion Data Archive Search and browse for statistics on religions in America, hosted by the Association of Religion Data Archive (excellent quick facts on nations and their religions, gathered from various sources, including the United Nations, US Dept. of State, and CIA World Fact Book).
Religion Facts A site dedicated to straightforward facts on religions around the world. Geared towards students, teachers, and journalists, the site indexes religions alphabetically with charts, symbols, and glossaries.
Religion on the Web A list of comprehensive websites on religion, hosted by Duke University's Department of Religion.
Sacred Sites An anthropologists look at sacred sites around the globe, including overviews of the locations, as well as photographs.
Sacred Texts Online A comprehensive website offering free, electronic versions of hundreds of sacred texts, organized by religion

BPL: electronic resources

ATLA Religion Database: Comprehensive database which specializes in scholarly material about world religions.
JSTOR: More than 600 core scholarly journals focusing on literature and the humanities. Collection spans the last 150 years but does not includes most current 3 to 5 years.
Student Resource Center: Designed for grades 6-12, this database offers easy keyword searching across journals, images, books, and reference materials.
TOPIC Search: A database with access to articles on a wide-range of popular topics, including social, political, and economic issues.

Updated, 9-09