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American History & Studies

This guide provides resources for courses and programs in American History and American Studies

Primary Sources on the WWW

Primary Source Sites on the Internet


United States

Archives & Primary Sources

 


AMDOCS Documents for the Study of American History  One of several sites listed here that provides full text of documents from the 15th Century on, arranged in chronological order.

American Journeys  American Journeys contains more than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of
North American exploration, from the sagas of Vikings in Canada in AD1000 to the
diaries of mountain men in the Rockies 800 years later.


American Memory: Historical Collections for the National Digital Library.  A rapidly growing collection of documents, photographs, sound recordings, motion pictures and maps. Some of the collections now available are: Pioneering Women; African American Perspectives; California Gold; Civil War Photographs; America in the Great Depression; and many others in the Library of Congress.

American Presidency Project  The American Presidency Project was established in 1999 as a collaboration between John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The archives contain 104,107 documents related to the study of the Presidency., including:

 • The Messages and Papers of the Presidents: Washington - Taft (1789-1913)
• The Public Papers of the Presidents:
Hoover to G.W. Bush (1929-2007)
& Obama (2009)
• The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents:
Carter - G.W. Bush (1977-2009)

• The Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents:
Obama (2009-2012)
 
Atlantic Canada Portal: Virtual Archives: The Atlantic Canada Portal maintains the Atlantic Canada Virtual Archives (ACVA), a virtual archive of primary source material relating to the Atlantic Provinces. Each collection features digitized documents and images, accompanied by learning activities and commentary, of interest to a wide range of readers.
 
Documenting the American South  A collection of sources on Southern history, literature and culture from the colonial period through the first decades of the 20th century. Provides access to digitized primary materials that offer Southern perspectives on American history and culture.


Chronology of US Historical Documents  This site from the University of Oklahoma College of Law provides U. S. Historical documents from the Magna Carta to the present.


Foreign Relations of the United States  This State Department web site is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001. See www.state.gov for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date. Online volumes available cover the Truman through Johnson administrations(1945 - 1968).

Founders Online  The National Archives  has entered into a cooperative agreement with The University of Virginia Press to make freely available online the historical documents of the Founders of the United States of America.  Through this website, you will be able to read and search through thousands of records from George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison and see firsthand the growth of democracy and the birth of the Republic.
 

Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930: Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930, is a web-based collection of historical materials from Harvard's libraries, archives, and museums that documents voluntary immigration to the United States from the signing of the Constitution to the onset of the Great Depression.   Concentrating heavily on the 19th century, this website includes over 400,000 pages from more than 2,200 books, pamphlets, and serials, over 9,600 pages from manuscript and archival collections, and more than 7,800 photographs.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) The National Archives web site includes descriptions of NARA facilities; copies of publications such as finding aids; and some Federal records regulations. The agency is working to improve access to the contents of the archives and this site should become increasingly valuable.


Perry-Casteneda Library Map Collection: Historical Maps of the United States. The categories used by the University of Texas map library are early inhabitants, exploration and settlement, U.S. territorial growth, later historical periods, military history, historical maps of Texas and U.S. cities, and national historic sites. There is a link to other map sites.
 

US Congressional Documents: A Century of Lawmaking, 1774 - 1875: One of the major collections in the American Memory website, this invaluable (but hard to find) site includes all major congressional documents for the country's first century. The four main categories are: The Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention; Journals of Congress; Debates of Congress; and States and Documents.

 

 

ASU Library Primary Sources - US History

 American West  Based on sources from the Everett D. Graff Collection of Western Americana at the Newberry Library, Chicago, a unique resource widely regarded as one of the finest collections of Western Americana in existence, this collection includes a mixture of original manuscripts, maps, ephemeral material and rare printed sources.


American Indian History Online A unique resource that offers fast access to more than 5,000 years of culture, history, and leaders. More than 240 Native American groups are presented through subject entries, biographies, primary source documents, historical maps, and photographs.

American Indians and the American West, 1809-1971 This database includes primary sources which focus on American Indians in the first half of the 20th Century. The two major collections included are Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and records from the Major Council Meetings of American Indian Tribes. In addition to these 20th Century records, American Indians and the American West, 1809-1971 features a number of excellent collections on American Indians in the 19th Century, with a focus on the interaction among white settlers, the U.S. federal government, and Indian tribes.

Archive of Americana( Historical Imprints)  The Archive of Americana, Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker series, offers more than 100,000 early American books, pamphlets, broadsides and rare printed materials. The archives feature extensive indexing and full bibliographic information, together illuminating more than 250 years of American history, literature, culture and daily life. Unique and authoritative, these fully searchable products enable researchers to browse and explore America’s past in unprecedented ways.

 Civil War Collection We have access to Part I-IV of Civil War Collection from ACCESSIBLE ARCHIVES.

  • Part I: A Newspaper Perspective.
  • Part II: The Soldiers’ Perspective
  • Part III: The Generals’ Perspective
  • Part IV: A Midwestern Perspective

Declassified Documents Reference System - US (1941-1992) Includes full text of declassified U.S. government documents. Covers nearly every major foreign and domestic event from the end of World War II through the 1970s: the Cold War, Vietnam, foreign policy shifts, the civil rights movement, etc

 Immigration to the United States, 1789 - 1930  Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930, is a web-based collection of historical materials from Harvard's libraries, archives, and museums that documents voluntary immigration to the United States from the signing of the Constitution to the onset of the Great Depression.   Concentrating heavily on the 19th century, this website includes over 400,000 pages from more than 2,200 books, pamphlets, and serials, over 9,600 pages from manuscript and archival collections, and more than 7,800 photographs.

Nineteenth Century Collections Online It is a global digitization and publishing program focusing on primary source collections of the long nineteenth century. It provide acess to rare primary sources, curated by an international team of experts, and includes important works sourced from leading libraries worldwide. It consists of monographs, newspapers, pamphlets, manuscripts, ephemera, maps, photographs, statistics, and other kinds of documents in both Western and non-Western languages.

ProQuest Congressional Publications, 1789+ U.S. legislative information: hearings; committee reports; bills, bill tracking; Congressional Indexes; Serial Set; Congressional Record; Federal Register; Code of Federal Regulations; U.S. Code; Public laws; National Journal, Congress Daily, & member info.

The Sixties: Primary Documents and Personal Narratives, 1960 to 1974   This database documents the key events, trends, and movements in 1960s America—vividly conveying the zeitgeist of the decade and its effects into the middle of the next. Through letters, diaries, memoirs, and oral histories; accounts from official, radical, and alternative organizations; posters, broadsides, pamphlets, advertisements, and rare materials; and Universal newsreel footage of the times, the collection tells the story of the Sixties.

Women and Social Movements in the United States: 1600 - 2000 This database contains: 52 document projects that interpret and present documents, altogether these document projects provide more than 1,250 documents, 450 images, and 500 links to other websites. 19,000 pages of documents pertaining to Women and Social Movements. These materials have been selected by the Editors for their relevance to the focus of the website.


 

 

Chronologically Arranged

Chronologically: 1600 - 1799

 

Colonial North American Project:  Includes 150,000 images of diaries, journals, notebooks, and other rare documents from the 17th and 18th centuries.  When complete, the project will make available to the world digitized images of all known archival and manuscript materials in the Harvard Library that relate to 17th and 18th century North America.

The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 1610 - 1791  This site contains the entire English translation of the The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, originally compiled and edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites and published by The Burrows BrothersCompany, Cleveland, throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century. Each file represents the total English contents of a single published volume.

Founders Online  The National Archives  has entered into a cooperative agreement with The University of Virginia Press to make freely available online the historical documents of the Founders of the United States of America.  Through this website, you will be able to read and search through thousands of records from George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison and see firsthand the growth of democracy and the birth of the Republic.

Liberty and the American Revolution The Sid Lapidus '59 Collection on Liberty and the American Revolution features more than 150 recently gifted important books, pamphlets and prints representing the major themes of Lapidus' collecting: the intellectual origins of the American Revolution; the Revolution itself; the early years of the republic; the resulting spread of democratic ideas in the Atlantic world; and the effort to abolish the slave trade in both Great Britain and the United States.

Chronological Websites

 

Chronologically: 1800 - 1899

The American Civil War Home Page  Links to hundreds of resources, including timelines, overviews, images, letters, accounts and diaries, bibliographies, state studies, specific battles and rosters. A good place to start any search for Civil War information.

American Civil War Resources: Civil War materials from the Digital Library & Archives, Virginia Tech Libraries containing letters and diaries from both Union and Confederate soldiers, homefront letters, memoirs, and contemporary research files.

Congressional Documents: A Century of Lawmaking, 1774 - 1875: One of the major collections in theAmerican Memory website, this invaluable (but hard to find) site includes all major congressional documents for the country's first century. The four main categories are: The Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention; Journals of Congress; Debates of Congress; and States and Documents.

 Documenting the American South  A collection of sources on Southern history, literature and culture from the colonial period through the first decades of the 20th century. Provides access to digitized primary materials that offer Southern perspectives on American history and culture.

Founders Online  The National Archives  has entered into a cooperative agreement with The University of Virginia Press to make freely available online the historical documents of the Founders of the United States of America.  Through this website, you will be able to read and search through thousands of records from George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison and see firsthand the growth of democracy and the birth of the Republic.

Making of America(Cornell University); Making of America( University of Michigan) (1800-1925 ) Full text of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. Particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. This is actually two separate sites with separate resources -- one site is sponsored by The University of Michigan and the other by Cornell University.

Martin Van Buren Papers, 1787 - 1910  The Martin Van Buren Papers contain more than 6,000 items dating from 1787 to circa 1910.  The bulk of the material dates from the 1820s, when Van Buren (1782-1862) was a U.S. senator from New York, through his service as secretary of state and vice president in the Andrew Jackson administrations (1829-1837), to his own presidency (1837-1841).    Included are correspondence, autobiographical materials, notes and other writings, drafts of messages to Congress in 1837 and 1838, and other speeches, legal and estate records, miscellany, and family items.  The collection primarily consists of letters received by Van Buren from other individuals, as well as copies, drafts, transcripts, and photocopies of letters written by him.  

The U.S. Civil War Center (Louisiana State University)  A collection of web links to indexes, letters, diaries, museums, discussion groups, newspapers, university archives, and Web-accessible documents. The 'historic places' portion leads to information on battlefields, cemeteries, forts, and historic sites.

The War of the Rebellion: Both The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (1880 - 1901) and the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion (1894 - 1922) are available full text online at Cornell University'sMaking of America site. These are obviously two of the most significant civil war resources.

 

Chronologically: 1900 - 1949


Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Digital Archives: A growing body of presidential and personal papers related to the FDR presidency. Included are the President's Secretary File(PSF); British & German Diplomatic files; US-Vatican Diplomatic files, Fireside chats; and the Hackett Papers.


HyperWar: A Hypertext history of the Second World War "This project is a collection of material related to the (primarily military) history of the Second World War, completely cross-referenced via hypertext links and enhanced, where appropriate, by various multi-media computer technologies."

Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Digital Archive  This online Archive is based on interdisciplinary academic research conducted by trained observers reporting from “war relocation centers.” The collection includes nearly 100,000 original manuscript items — among them personal narratives never before made public, due to restrictions on their release designed to protect individual internees who shared their experiences.

"Let there be Light" ( John Huston 1946 WWII film): John Huston’s World War II documentary Let There Be Light is so legendary for its censorship controversy that its sheer power as a film has been easy to miss. Produced by the U.S. Army in 1945, it pioneered unscripted interview techniques to take an unprecedented look into the psychological wounds of war.

 World War I Document Archive: This archive of primary documents from World War I has been assembled by volunteers of the World War I Military History List (WWI-L). The archive is international in focus and intends to present in one location primary documents concerning the Great War. Also worth looking at is: World War I: Trenches on the Web.


World War II Resources "Primary source materials on the Web" 

Chronologically: 1950 - 1999


Civil Rights Documentation Project - A Mississippi site which includes transcripts of oral history interviews, a civil rights timeline, and bibliography.

Declassified Documents Reference System - US (1941-1992) (Access through ASU Library)
Includes full text of declassified U.S. government documents. Covers nearly every major foreign and domestic event from the end of World War II through the 1970s: the Cold War, Vietnam, foreign policy shifts, the civil rights movement, etc.


Free Speech Movement Archives. The link takes you directly to a list of pages and primary sources documenting the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley. This is the only way to get an idea of the extent and scope of this site's holdings.

 National Security Archive  An independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University, the Archive collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The Archive also serves as a repository of government records on a wide range of topics pertaining to the national security, foreign, intelligence, and economic policies of the United States.


Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact - provides documentation about the development of NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War. This site and the Cold War International History Project provide materials documenting the activities of the US' partners and adversaries during the long cold war struggle.

The Sixties: Primary Documents and Personal Narratives, (ASU Libraries Database)  This database documents the key events, trends, and movements in 1960s America—vividly conveying the zeitgeist of the decade and its effects into the middle of the next. Through letters, diaries, memoirs, and oral histories; accounts from official, radical, and alternative organizations; posters, broadsides, pamphlets, advertisements, and rare materials; and Universal newsreel footage of the times, the collection tells the story of the Sixties.


The Vietnam Archive "The Vietnam Archive mission is to collect and preserve the documentary record of the Vietnam War.... The Vietnam Archive currently administers two projects, the Oral History Projectand the Virtual Vietnam Archive. More information about both of these project can be found in their respective sections of this website."

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