When you find primary sources from a time and place like 19th century Great Britain, there will be things about the time period that you simply don't know. Seeking background information that is succinct, reputable, and easy to access can save you time and increase your knowledge about events, places, and people of the past. Taking this step will make the primary sources you find much more meaningful to you -- you'll understand their context and content better.
The MSU Library provides access to full-text reference sources like encyclopedias and guide books that can provide this information. Work with this page to see some good options like Credo and other resources linked here.
What is Credo? Credo is a vast online reference library, providing access to the full text of hundreds of highly regarded and popular titles. This database also includes images, sound files, animations, videos and much more. Find speedy, simple answers and full in-depth articles. Credo Reference contains dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, thesauri, encyclopedias, quotations and atlases plus a wide range of subject-specific titles covering everything from the arts to accountancy, science to Shakespeare and law to literature.
Search Credo for specific tropics in British history to understand context, dates, names of people involved, political arguments and developments, conflicts, etc. Start with the Basic search but move to Advanced if you need to dig more deeply.
Read the full-text of the encyclopedia and dictionary articles on your topic that you pull up in Credo. Then search for primary sources in Artemis: Primary Sources or British Periodicals. As you read the primary sources, continue to search unfamiliar terms in Credo. You'll understand much more about your topic if you do this.