Research Guides

LibGuides

United States of America (History)

This Web page provides links to materials that can be used for doing research on the History of the U.S. (American History).  It is not comprehensive. Much useful material for history is found in books. Additional resources (articles, etc.) are identified in the bibliographies of these books. Track these resources down for thorough research. See "identifying books" for subject terms used in library catalogs for the history of the United States of America. That said, there is a growing amount of useful research material, including primary resources, on the Web and through proprietary (a library purchases them) databases; a number of these are linked to here.

Timelines | Summaries, Artifacts & Documents (Primary Sources)| Presidents, First Ladies, White House | Reference Books on US History | Identifying Books | Personal Accounts | Indexes and Abstracts | National Representatives & Politicians | U.S. at War | State Governors | Other

Timelines

Flag Timeline. Betsy Ross. Independence Hall Association. Philadelphia.

From Revolution to Reconstruction: An Outline of American History (1994). Alfa-Informatica. Department of Humanities Computing. Groningen, The Netherlands.

The Invasion of America: How the United States Took Over an Eighth of the World. 1776 to the present. eHistory.org. Claudio Saunt, University of Georgia

A Chronology of US Historical Documents. The University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Timeline. Digital History. S. Mintz& S. McNeil.

Summaries, Artifacts, & Documents (Primary Sources)

America's Story from America's Library. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.

Meet amazing Americans, jump back in time, explore the states, etc. Aimed at a young audience, but it has a lot of information of use to all ages and types of researchers.

American Memory. Library of Congress.

Search for American images by people, places time, topics, and events.  Excellent resource for primary research documents.

American State Papers, 1789-1838. CSU affiliates only.

Government materials. Shows scanned images of printed materials. View page by page.

Serial Set: U.S. Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1980. CSU affiliates only.

Government materials. Shows scanned images of printed materials. View page by page.

Early American Imprints. Series I Evans 1639-1800. CSU affiliates only. . Upkeep paid with Wentworth Funds.
See also the Early American ImprintsSupplement, 1670-1800. Readex.

Evans contains virtually every book, pamphlet and broadside published in America over a 160-year period. It contains more than 36,000 printed works and 2.3 million pages. The type of work has a wide range and includes a wide variety of 17th- and 18th-century imprints, such as advertisements, almanacs, bibles, broadsides, catalogs, charters and by-laws, contracts, cookbooks, elegies, eulogies, laws, maps, narratives, novels, operas, pamphlets, plays, poems, primers, sermons, songs, speeches, textbooks, tracts, travelogues, treaties and more. These are valuable primary research materials.

The online collection may be searched by subject and browsed by genre, subjects, author, history of printing, place of publication and language. Topics covered include agriculture, astronomy, auctions, capital punishment, child rearing, commerce, constitution, diseases, education, foreign affairs, French & Indian wars, geography, Latin, lotteries, masonry, medicine, military operations, missionaries, operas, religious thought, revolutionary war, slavery, suffrage, temperance, trials, witchcraft, women, work, yellow fever and more.

National Museum of American History. Smithsonian.

Virtual exhibitions (flash player required for some exhibits; some exhibits require a browser history to get out of), timelines, more. Most of the site promotes resources at the museum.

National Archives and Records Administration.

Includes copies of various primary and secondary sources along with contextual information (some sources found on linked to pages). For example, there are documents regarding Research in Military Records: Civil War, African American Heritage including Civil Rights, Presidents and First Ladies, Immigration Records (Ship Passenger Arrival Records), and Native American Heritage. Links to Our Documents (separate Web site), a site that has copies of one hundred milestone documents to do with American history.

AMDOCS: Documents for the Study of American History. Lynn Nelson, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Kansas. Maintained by George Laughead Jr.

Letters from the fifteenth century to the present.

Digital Public Library of America.

Exhibititions, map, timeline, bookshelf, and apps. Many items identified by the timeline do not relate to American history, but are found in American libraries and museums. Exhibitions focus on American history topics.

Making of America. University of Michigan Digital Library Text Collections. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

"Making of America (MoA) is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. . . . The collection currently contains approximately 10,000 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints." Search by keyword or subject browse, use Boolean operators or proximity search. Browse by broad topic. Search books and/or articles. View results page by page. Two collections, see below.

Making of America. Cornell University. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

"Materials accessible here are Cornell University Library's contributions to Making of America (MOA), a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. . . . This site provides access to 267 monograph volumes and over 100,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints." Search books and/or journals. Browse by journal title. Narrow by year (currently 1815-1926). Do Boolean, proximity, frequency, bibliographic (author or title), or index search. Two collections, see above.

Photogrammar. Yale. National Endowment for the Humanities.

"170,000 photographs from 1935 to 1945 created by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI)." Click on a geographical area and see images from that location.

WWW-VL History. United States. The World Wide Virtual Library. The University of Kansas.

Listing by topic and chronological. Extensive. Links to sites all over. (See also History from all over.)

Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Gary E. Moulton. University of Nebraska.

Annotated text of the journals of Lewis and Clark. Includes related materials and links to other sites that have information about the expedition.

American Civil War: Letters and Diaries. Alexander Street Press. CSU affiliates only.

Primary source materials. 1855-1875. The collection includes approximately 100,000 pages of published memoirs, letters and diaries from individuals.

Civil War Maps. Library of Congress.

Over 2,200 maps are available onilne illustrating places involved in the American Civil War. Maps come from a number of collections, pulled together into this one online location. Many feature military battles and campaigns.

Unknown No Longer. Virginia Historical Society.

A work in progress (so more to be added later), this "database seeks to lift from the obscurity of unpublished historical records as much biographical detail as remains of the enslaved Virginians named in those documents. In some cases there may only be a name on a list; in others more details survive, including family relationships, occupations, and life dates." Currently there are over 1500 names of slaves, names of people not found in other published Virginia Historical Society materials. Search by first name, last name, gender, and/or occupation. The advanced search can be search by date range, location, owners's last name, and record type (account, deed, letter, and many others). Record type and location can be browsed. The related resources links to other online projects as well as providing a list of primary and secondary sources (check library catalog for local holdings).

Documenting the American South. © Copyright 2004 by the University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Site is "a digital publishing initiative that provides Internet access to texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture. Currently DocSouth includes fourteen thematic collections of books, diaries, posters, artifacts, letters, oral history interviews, and songs." Primary resources.

The Gilded Age. Alexander Street Press. CSU affiliates only.

The Gilded Age covers topics that include "[i]mmigration and migration, racism and civil rights, labor and industry, women and universal suffrage, American Indians, and the environment." The collection contains "40,000 pages of full text, photographs, songs for listening online, and other primary materials, along with video interviews and twenty-five critical documentary essays. Each documentary essay poses an interpretive question and then illuminates it with dozens of annotated primary documents, introductions, and essays." Items in this database range from primary sources that were created in 1865 to contemporary (as in 2007) scholarship.

Black Thought and Culture. Alexander Street Press. CSU affiliates only.

Primary source materials. 1700-1975. Non-fiction published works of leading African Americans. "Where possible the complete published non-fiction works are included, as well as interviews, journal articles, letters and other fugitive material. The collection also includes biographical essays by leading scholars and an extensive annotated bibliography of the sources in the database."

Early Encounters in North America; Peoples, Cultures and the Environment. Alexander Street Press. CSU affiliates only.

Primary source materials. 1534-1850. The database includes prints, drawings, paintings, maps, bibliographies, letters, photographs, and original facsimile pages.

North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories. Alexander Street Press. CSU affiliates only.

Primary source materials. Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories.

North American Indian Biographical Database. Alexander Street Press. CSU affiliates only.

Materials from the 17th century to the present. More than biographies, it includes the text of treaties, images, related documents, and more.

North American Women's Letters and Diaries. Alexander Street Press. CSU affiliates only.

Primary source materials. Colonial to 1950. Diaries and letters of 1017 North American women.

Media History Digital Library. Also available on MHDL Internet Archive.

Historical printed materials related to cinema, broadcasing, and recorded sound.

Veteran’s History Project. Library of Congress.

Oral histories of veterans. Some material (transcripts, videos) is available online. Check Digitized Collection box in order to find these. If you know specifics, you can search them: name of veteran/civilian, service location, service unit/ship, highest rank, etc. Search by conflict or era (World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, and/or Other); limit by branch of service (Air Force, Army, Army Air Forces/Corps, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Merchant Marine, Navy, Civilian, Other Branches); indicate whether or not prisoner of war, gender, digitized collection, and/or transcript. [This entry repeated below in U.S. at War section.]

Civil Rights Digital Library. © 2009 Digital Library of Georgia. University of Georgia.

Search by: Events (1954-1968), Places (displays interactive map), People (listed A-Z), and Topics. Actual documents are often linked to other sites; specific events, etc. have an introduction. Items include letters, photographs, editorial cartoons, oral histories, and many other media types. Also search by collection name. Site includes secondary sources (such as the educator resources and the introductions).

Television News of the Civil Rights Era 1950-1970. Copyright William G. Thomas, III and Rector and Board of Visitors, University of Virginia. All Rights Reserved. 2005.

Films & Summaries (1955-1969), Primary Documents, and Oral Histories. "No film, image, or text on this site may be reproduced, copied, or duplicated for, any purpose whatsoever,
without the express written permission from the rights holders." Need to run cursor over to see what is a link (e.g. "Page 1" of a document).

Historical Publications of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Thurgood Marshall Law Library.

Covers 1957 to the present. Search material by title, subject, date of publication and SuDocs number. Items are available online in PDF.

The Civil Rights Movement. Oral Histories of the American South. Documenting the American South (linked to above). © Copyright 2004 by the University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, all rights reserved.

"This collection of interviews seeks to make this massive movement local and understandable by reducing it into its smallest parts—the people that participated, in small and large ways. These people were former slaves who taught their children the value of education, or high school principals who insisted on punctuality. Drawing together interviews from a variety of Southern Oral History Program collections, this cluster includes interviews with students and teachers at West Charlotte High School in Charlotte, North Carolina." Interviews available in HTML (transcript), audio with transcript (Requires QuickTime and JavaScript), and audio only (MP3).

See also the Topic: Civil Rights section of the History: African American LibGuide at the University of Washington (scroll down to see; the page also has links to information about slavery). There are a number of links to sources of information on civil rights--run your cursor over the links to see a brief annotation.

Reference Books on US History

All of the materials listed here are available online to CSU affiliates. Some of them have print versions, found in the Morgan Library Reference collection.

American Decades. 10 vols. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994- . E169.12 .A419 1994 Reference (Also online via the Gale Virtual Reference Library to CSU affiliates.) 20th century.

American Decades: Primary Sources. 10 vols. Detroit: Gale, 2004. Online via the Gale Virtual Reference Library to CSU affiliates.

Colonial America Reference Library. 6 vols. Detroit: U*X*L, 2000. Online via Gale Virtual Reference Library to CSU affiliates.

Dictionary of American History. 3rd ed. 10 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003. E174 .D52 2003 Reference (Also online via the Gale Virtual Reference Library to CSU affiliates.)

U*X*L American Decades. 11 vols. Detroit: U*X*L, 2003. Online via Gale Virtual Reference Library to CSU affiliates. 20th century.

Identifying Books in SAGE, the library catalog

Do a Subject search for these terms in SAGE (and Prospector). Note the divisions by years and major events. Social conditions are an important part of any historical research. After doing a search for the terms, also look at their subdivisions (i.e. United States History 1933-1945 Sources):

  • Civil Rights United States
  • Civil Rights United States History
  • Civil Rights United States History Sources
  • Civil rights movements -- United States
  • Collective settlements United States History.
  • Depressions 1929 United States.
  • Farm Life
  • Farm Life -- [state]
  • Farm Life -- United States
  • Frontier and Pioneer Life -- [state]
  • Frontier and Pioneer Life -- West (U.S.)
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition 1804-1806
  • Presidents United States.
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks 2001
  • Spanish American War 1898
  • United States Description and travel
  • United States Economic Conditions.
  • United States Economic Conditions 1865-1918.
  • United States Economic Conditions 1918-1945.
  • United States Economic Conditions 1945-
  • United States Social Conditions.
  • United States Social Conditions 1865-1918
  • United States Social Conditions 1918-1932.
  • United States Social Conditions 1933-1945.
  • United States Social Conditions 1945-
  • United States Social Conditions 1960-1980.
  • United States Social Conditions 1980-
  • United States Social Conditions 20th Century.
  • United States History
  • United States History 1783-1815.
  • United States History 1783-1865.
  • United States History 1797-1801.
  • United States History 1801-1809.
  • United States History 1809-1817.
  • United States History 1815-1861.
  • United States History 1849-1877.
  • United States History 1865-
  • United States History 1865-1898.
  • United States History 1865-1921.
  • United States History 1901-1953.
  • United States History 1919-1933.
  • United States History 1933-1945.
  • United States History 1945-
  • United States History 1961-1969
  • United States History 1969-
  • United States History Chronology
  • United States History Civil War 1861-1865
  • United States History Revolution 1775-1783
  • United States History 19th Century.
  • United States History 20th Century.
  • United States Korean War 1950-1953
  • United States Vietnam War 1961-1975
  • United States World War 1914-1918
  • United States World War 1939-1945
  • Vice-Presidents United States.
  • West (U.S.) History.
  • West (U.S.) History 1848-1860.
  • West (U.S.) History 1860-1890.
  • West (U.S.) History 1890-1945.
  • West (U.S.) History 1945-

To find items on a specific aspect of U.S. history, do a Keyword search for United States and that topic or United States and history and that topic. For example:

  • United States and slavery
  • United States and suffrage
  • United States and history and agriculture
  • United States and history and children
  • United States and history and music

Items may be requested from other libraries in Prospector, the Colorado Union Catalog, by Colorado State University affiliates (establish a PIN in SAGE first).

Personal Accounts of Events (Primary Sources)

Personal accounts (primary sources) of events can be identified with the subdivision "Personal Narratives." Some of these are diaries or other forms of journals. Some are memoirs. For example:

  • United States History French and Indian War, 1755-1763 Personal narratives
  • United States History Revolution, 1775-1783 Personal narratives
  • Mexican War, 1846-1848 Personal narratives
  • United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Personal narratives
  • United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Personal narratives, Confederate Side
  • Gettysburg, Battle of, Gettysburg, Pa., 1863 Personal narratives
  • [state] History Civil War, 1861-1865 Personal narratives
  • Indians of North America Wars 1866-1895 Personal narratives
  • Little Bighorn, Battle of the, Mont., 1876 Personal narratives
  • Wounded Knee Massacre, S.D., 1890 Personal narratives.
  • Spanish-American War, 1898 Personal narratives
  • World War, 1914-1918 Personal narratives
  • World War 1939-1945 Personal Narratives
  • World War 1939-1945 Personal Narratives American
  • Korean War, 1950-1953 Personal narratives, American
  • Vietnam War 1961-1975 Personal Narratives American
  • Persian Gulf War 1991 Personal Narratives American
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001 Personal narratives
  • Iraq War 2003 Personal Narratives
  • Iraq War 2003 Personal Narratives American

Many diaries are found under the name of the individual diarist, but they can also be identified collectively by profession, religious group, or geographical area. For example:

  • Adams John Quincy 1767 1848 Diaries
  • Pioneers West U S Diaries
  • Prisoners of War United States Diaries
  • Sailors United States Diaries
  • Soldiers United States Diaries
  • Washington, George, 1732-1799 Diaries.

Letters are found under correspondence. For example:

  • Abolitionists United States Correspondence
  • Adams Abigail 1744-1818 Correspondence
  • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962 Correspondence.
  • Presidents Spouses United States Correspondence
  • Presidents United States Correspondence
  • Soldiers United States Correspondence

Do a subject search for American letters and American diaries for collected works with commentaries.

Indexes and Abstracts

Identify articles by topic in these sources (these indexes are Step 1 of how to find articles).   Some indexes have citations only and others have full text materials.

America, History & Life. 1954- . 1964- online via "Databases." Only six CSU users at a time.
Z 1236 .A48 Reference South (1954-1994).

          America: History & Life is a useful index for identifying articles and books to do with U.S. history.

Congressional Publications. CIS. Legislative Histories (1969-present). CSU affiliates only.

Has information on U.S. and state government laws, codes, and statues.  Find publications, bills, laws, regulations, members, committees, etc.  Links to all kinds of governmental information. 

Historical Abstracts. 1954- . Only six CSU users at a time. Printed version D 299 .H5 Reference South (covers history in years 1775-1945).

History of Asia, Europe, Africa, Oceania after 1500. Subject term for United States is: USA.

Humanities Index. 1974-March 1999. AI 3 .I495 Reference

Abstracting for core journals in the humanities, including many history titles.

JSTOR. Articles at least 3-5 years old. CSU affiliates only.

Full text articles from broad range of subject areas, including history. Search for words in title, author, abstract, or full text. Be certain to select area(s) of journals to complete a search. (E.g. History, African-American Studies.)

Project MUSE. Various starting dates. CSU affiliates only.

Full text articles from the humanities and social sciences, including over forty history journals.

See also The History Cooperative. You must be on a CSU computer to access reviews (or via your own library's computer--if it has purchased access). CSU affiliates may validate remotely via one of the title's SAGE record. Otherwise you will not be able to see the reviews.

Presidents, First Ladies, White House

POTUS (Presidents of the United States). Internet Public Library.

This site has "background information, election results, cabinet members, notable events, and some points of interest on each of the presidents. Links to biographies, historical documents, audio and video files, and other presidential sites are also included."

The American Presidency Project. University of California at Santa Barbara. © 1999-2011 - Gerhard Peters - The American Presidency Project.

"Our archives contain 90,672 documents related to the study of the Presidency." "Our archives . . . contain thousands of other documents such as party platforms, candidates' remarks, Statements of Administration Policy, documents released by the Office of the Press Secretary, and election debates." The document archive has: • Executive Orders 4824 • State of the Union Addresses 91 • Proclamations 5930 • State of the Union Messages 138 • Press Conferences 1966 • Inaugural Addresses 59 • Saturday Radio Addresses 1306 • Addresses to Congress (non-SOU) 48 • Fireside Chats (FDR) 27 • Addresses to Nation 245 • Veto Messages 1141 • Addresses to the United Nations 42 • Radio & TV Correspondents Dinners 35 • Addresses to Foreign Legislatures 69 • Party Convention Addresses 36 • College Commencement Addresses 149

Portraits of Presidents and First Ladies.

Images of presidents and their families.

The First Ladies. The White House.

Set of biographies.

The First Ladies at the Smithsonian.

Timeline with images. As of May 2016, on 8 separate pages (link is to first page).

First Ladies Research. National First Ladies Library.

In chronological order. Biographies and other resources.

White House.

Official home page of the first family residence.

The President's Desk. John F. Kennedy Library.

Image of the desk given to President Rutherford Hayes in 1878, shown as in John F. Kennedy's administration (and used by President Barak Obama today). Click on objects on the desk to listen to secret recordings of conversations about Civil Rights, the Space Program, and more, with links to other primary sources, and background information about some of the objects themselves, for example video with Kennedy talking about his love of the sea after clicking on the scrimshaw. Then find information about scrimshaw and places Kennedy sailed in Cape Cod.

National Representatives & Politicians

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

Summary biographical information on Congressional politicians from 1774 to the present. Search by name, position, party, state, and/or year/congress. Bibliography.

U.S. House of Representatives.

Includes summaries of floor and committee actions for last 3 legislative days, floor schedule for the week, directory of e-mail addresses, links to member and congressional member organization home pages.

U.S. Senate.

Links to committee and member home pages, a directory of e-mail addresses, Daily Calendar of Business, and general information about the Senate and the legislative process.

Political Graveyard: A Database of Historic Cemeteries. Lawrence Kestenbaum.

Includes biographical information as well as "where they are buried." Politicians, judges, diplomats. Many ways to search--alphabetical, year born/died, awards, religion, how died/killed, etc.

U.S. at War

This section on the US at war has a mixture of free Web sources and proprietary resources available only to CSU affiliates (so noted).

See also World War I and World War II, which have a large number of materials specifically related to that war (subject headings, Web sites, reference materials, links to primary documents, etc.).

American Civil War Reference Library. 5 vols. Detroit: U*X*L, 2000. Online via Gale Virtual Reference Library to CSU affiliates.

The American Civil War Homepage. George H. Hoemann. University of Tennessee.

Numerous links to a wide variety of Web sites. Arranged into broad categories such as general, state/local, battles and campaigns, documentary records, etc.

Civil War Timeline. Gettysburg. National Military Park.

Entries begin November 6, 1860 and end May 26, 1865.

American Home Front in World War II. 4 vols. Detroit: U*X*L, 2005. Online AJFWWII to CSU affiliates.

American Revolution Reference Library. 5 vols. Detroit: U*X*L, 2000. Online ARRL to CSU affiliates.

Americans at War. 4 vols. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. Online AatW to CSU affiliates.

Cold War Reference Library. 6 vols. Detroit: U*X*L, 2004. Online CWRL to CSU affiliates.

Encyclopedia of the American Revolution: Library of Military History. 2 vols. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006. Online EARLMH to CSU affiliates.

Korean War Reference Library. 2 vols. Detroit: U*X*L, 2002. Online KWRL.

Mexican-American War. Julie L. Detroit: U*X*L, 2003. Online M-AW to CSU affiliates.

United States Civil War Center.

Links to materials about U.S. Civil war and other research-related links.

U. S. Army in World War II: Series.

Reader's Guide. Links to items that discuss general war history. Not all items online yet.

War of 1812. Detroit: U*X*L, 2002. Online W1812 to CSU affiliates.

World War I Reference Library. 4 vols. Detroit: U*X*L, 2002. Online WWIoneRL to CSU affiliates.

World War II Reference Library. 5 vols. Detroit: U*X*L, 2000. Online WWIItwoRL to CSU affiliates.

Veteran’s History Project. Library of Congress.

Oral histories of veterans. Some material (transcripts, videos) is available online. Check Digitized Collection box in order to find these. If you know specifics, you can search them: name of veteran/civilian, service location, service unit/ship, highest rank, etc. Search by conflict or era (World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, and/or Other); limit by branch of service (Air Force, Army, Army Air Forces/Corps, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Merchant Marine, Navy, Civilian, Other Branches); indicate whether or not prisoner of war, gender, digitized collection, and/or transcript. [Repeat entry from above in Summaries, Artifacts, and Documents.]

State Governors

NGA Online.

National Governor's Association site.  Gives names of governors of U.S. states and territories

Other

Library Resources For Political Science. Rob Sica. Colorado State University Libraries.

Indexes, Web sites, recommended books. Links include sites that have links to political news, opinion and commentary, political parties, campaigns and candidates, United States (Executive, Legislative, Judicial), foreign governments, international organizations, interest groups, state and local governments, policy issues, etc.

History of Colorado see Colorado History.

See also The American West to 1900 and The American West since 1900.

See also Women's Suffrage for information of this topic in American (and England and a bit of worldwide) history.