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World History 

Explore the history of the world, starting with the beginning of civilization as humans began to domesticate animals and engage in agriculture in the Neolithic Era (8000–5000 BCE). The development of agriculture allowed humans to form communities and engage in trade. These communities grew into civilizations, with some of the earliest located in Sumer, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley (Harappa), Andes, China, and Mesoamerica.

Starting around 3100 BCE, empires began to form through military conquest and strengthened through trade, the first being established in Egypt. Major empires to follow included the Persian, Greek, Macedonian, Seleucid, Xiongnu, Han, and Roman empires. The collapse of the Roman Empire around 476 CE introduced the period known as the Middle Ages or Dark Ages in Europe, from which it would not emerge until the Renaissance in the 14th century. Also, in the 5th century, Chinese dynasties were weakened by invaders, while the Mayan civilization in Central America became prominent in that region.


Islam developed in the 7th century and spread rapidly through military conquest in the Middle East and beyond. Major Islamic empires (or caliphates) include Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, and Ottoman. Other important empires from around 600 to 1450 include the Byzantine, Mongol, Song, Mayan, Aztec, and Incan empires.

The Industrial Revolution in Europe began in the 18th century, significantly modernizing technologies and concentrating more people in cities to work in factories. The European powers began a period of colonization that brought much of the world under their control, with the British, Dutch, Spanish, and Portuguese being the most prominent.

The age of empire effectively ended by the mid-20th century as colonies gained their independence. Instead of empires, nations sought to exert their influence globally in trade and diplomacy. Technology continued to shape modern societies as computers and information technology developed and became integrated into everyday life. The 21st century saw increasing globalization but also increasing threats to the environment that could threaten future human progress.

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World History Resources

Gale provides scholarly resources to advance the academic study of world history, including databasesprimary source archives, and eBooks.


Gale databases offer researchers access to credible, up-to-date content from world history databases, including full-text articles from magazines, videos, maps, guides, and more, to support research and teaching a balanced lesson plan in both the academic and high school classrooms.

Primary Source Archives

Gale Primary Sources contains archives and world history collections that provide researchers with firsthand content, including editorials, maps, documents, and more, that can be used to examine and analyze world history over time. 

Gale eBooks

Gale offers a variety of eBooks covering a wide range of world history topics, including Canada, medieval times, the 20th century, and more. Users can add Gale eBooks to a customized collection and cross-search to pinpoint relevant content for virtually any curriculum. Workflow tools help users easily share, save, and download content. 

  • A Concise History of the World, 1st Edition

    A Concise History of the World, 1st Edition

    Cambridge University Press | 2018 | ISBN-13: 9781316413128

    This book tells the story of humankind as producers and reproducers from the Paleolithic to the present. A renowned social and cultural historian, the author brings a new perspective to world history by examining social and cultural developments across the globe, including families/kin groups, social and gender hierarchies, sexuality, race/ethnicity, labor, religion, consumption, and material culture. She examines how these structures and activities changed over time through local processes and interactions with other cultures, highlighting key developments that defined particular eras such as the growth of cities or the creation of a global trading network. Incorporating foragers, farmers, and factory workers along with shamans, scribes, and secretaries, the book widens and lengthens human history. It makes comparisons and generalizations but also notes diversities and particularities as it examines social and cultural matters at the heart of big questions in world history today.

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  • Defining Documents in World History: The 20th Century (1900–1950), 1st Edition

    Defining Documents in World History: The 20th Century (19001950), 1st Edition

    Palgrave MacMillan | 2019 | ISBN-13: 9781682179659

    The first half of 20th century was marked by the death of Queen Victoria, the assassination of President McKinley, and publication of Sigmund Freud’s book on dream interpretation. By 1950, the technological advances of the 20th century were in full swing, and several important social and political reforms were making their mark. This set offers in-depth analysis of a broad range of historical documents, including legal codes, letters, speeches, constitutions, reports, and books that impacted the world throughout the first five decades of the final century of the second millennium. Includes analyses of documents organized into major categories such as conflicts and wars, class and society, and exploration and invention. The document chapters include the primary source document, often reproduced in its entirety, and the following sections: Summary Overview, Defining Moment, Author Biography, Document Analysis, and Essential Themes.

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  • Growing Up Around the World: Growing Up in Canada, 1st Edition

    Growing Up Around the World: Growing Up in Canada, 1st Edition

    ReferencePoint Press | 2017 | ISBN-13: 9781682822081

    Teenagers make up less than 9 percent of Canada’s population of about 35 million. Although Canada has 10 provinces, two-thirds of teens live in either Quebec or Ontario. Whether they live in cities or rural areas, these young people are growing up in a country that has two national languages, French and English; welcomes immigrants; is socially tolerant; and places a lot of emphasis on their education, independence, and happiness. Featured is an overview of the country as well as insights into how Canada’s youth experience home and family, education and work, social life, and more.

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  • Power and Religion in Medieval and Renaissance Times: The Fall of the Roman World and the Rise of Christianity, 1st Edition

    Power and Religion in Medieval and Renaissance Times: The Fall of the Roman World and the Rise of Christianity, 1st Edition

    Britannica Digital Learning | 2017 | ISBN-13: 9781680486261

    Although once regarded as a time of uninterrupted ignorance, superstition, and social oppression, the Middle Ages are now understood as a dynamic period during which the idea of Europe as a distinct cultural unit emerged. This title dives into late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, a medieval time when political, social, economic, and cultural structures were profoundly reorganized. As Roman imperial traditions gave way to those of the Germanic peoples who established kingdoms in the former Western Empire, new forms of political leadership were introduced and the population of Europe was gradually Christianized.

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Resources to Boost Your Research

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