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A Guide to American History

This page brings together various information resources on the subject of American History.

TImes Square - Then and Now

Required Texts

If you would rather not to buy the required texts, there are free ways to access them. If WUSTL Libraries do not have a copy, you may be able to borrow one through MOBIUS. If MOBIUS does not have a copy, you may be able to borrow one through one of the local, public library systems (St. Louis Public Library - SLPL or the Municipal Library Consortium of participating St. Louis County municipalities - MLC). 

Russell Shorto, The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America - WUSTL * MOBIUS * SLPL * MLC
Jill Lepore, New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth Century Manhattan - WUSTLSLPL * MOBIUS * SLPL print or streaming audiobook * MLC print or streaming audiobook
Jennifer Toth, The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City - WUSTL print or eBook * MOBIUS * SLPL eBook * MLC print or eBook
Tyler Anbinder, Five Points: The 19th Century New York City Neighborhood that Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections, and Became the World's Most Notorious Slum - WUSTL * MOBIUS * SLPL hardcover, paperback, or eBook * MLC streaming audiobook
Steven Fraser, Wall Street: America’s Dream Palace - WUSTL print or eBook * MOBIUS * SLPL * MLC
Robert A. Caro, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York - WUSTL 1st ed. or reprint * MOBIUS 1st ed. or reprint * SLPL 1st ed. or Francis Parkman Prize ed. (2006) * MLC reprint ed.
Suleiman Osman, The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn: Gentrification and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar New York - WUSTL print or eBook * MOBIUS 
Martin Duberman, Stonewall: The Definitive Story of the LGBTQ Rights Uprising that Changed America - WUSTL * MOBIUS 
James Goodman, Blackout - WUSTL * MOBIUS * MLC

Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, Nonstop Metropolis:  A New York City Atlas - WUSTL * MOBIUS  

Samuel R. Delany, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue - WUSTL print or eBook 

Alice M. Greenwald, No Day Shall Erase You: The Story of 9/11 as Told at the September 11 Museum - WUSTL 

Encyclopedia and other Reference Works

Kenneth T. Jackson, ed. The Encyclopedia of New York City, 2nd ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press; New York: New-York Historical Society, 2010) - eBook

Homberger, Eric. The Historical Atlas of New York City: A visual celebration of nearly 400 years of New York City's history (NY: H. Holt and Co., 1994) 


New York City Periodicals

Most New York City newspaper databases in Washington University Libraries are listed under the subject heading: Newspapers--New York--N.Y. However, some that are specific to New York County are found under a different subject heading. Some that are specific to a burrough are categorized like this: "[borrough name] (New York, N.Y.) -- Newspapers." Some of these will be in the Early American Newspapers (1690-1922), some in the Nineteenth Century U. S. Newspapers database, African American Newspapers database, and some in the American Religion: Denominational Newspapers database. If you only wanted to search New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993), you could to that here or just the New York Times hereHarper's Weekly was published in New York but was a nationally circulating news weekly. You can find additional NYC periodicals under the subject heading New York (N.Y.) -- Periodicals. Those specifically related to city government since 1951 can be found here

New York (State) history journals

Publications of the New York State Historical Association
Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association (JSTOR, 1902-1919)
The Quarterly Journal of the New York State Historical Association (JSTOR, 1919-1931).  
New York History (1932-
07/31/2018 in JSTOR Arts & Sciences XI2014 to Present in Project MUSE)

New York History Review (2007-present)

Old New York: A journal relating to the history and antiquities of New York City (Aug. 1889-Mar. 1891) 

print primary source collections

Digital Collections at NYC Colleges and Universities

Bard College - mostly photographs (student life), college archives (presidents' archives), and student newspapers 

Barnard College - digital collection of the Barnard Women’s Center/Barnard Center for Research on Women, 1971-1993

CCNY - includes Antiwar Notices 1934-36, The Free Academy, Harlem Development Archive, the Hatch/Billops Oral Histories of Black Culture, Langston Hughes Festival, Observation Post, The Paper, Ravi Shankar Course Lectures and Papers, Russel Sage, Struggle for Free Speech at CCNY, 1931-42, Student Political Activism, and Townsend Harris: The Japan Connection

Columbia University  - includes "1968, Columbia in crisis," Carnegie Corporation of New York Digital Archive, Frances Perkins collection, Hubert Henry Harrison collection, Herbert Henry Lehman correspondence, and the papers of John Jay 

Hofstra University - civil rights and Hofstra, POTUS debates 2008-16, Lt. Col. Charles Dryden Tuskegee airman and Hofstra alum, '60s student movements, From City to Suburbs on Long Island, Long Island’s Gold Coast era (1890s-1930s), Slavery on Long Island, Superstorm Sandy, etc. 

The New School - includes "Offense + Dissent," which addresses three incidents in the history of The New School: the 1951 and ’53 curtaining of the Orozco murals during the Red Scare ears; the 1970 anti-war exhibition put up by Parsons students; and the 1989 Matsunaga affair; the American Race Crisis Lecture Series Audio Recordings (1964)

NYU - includes the Sylvester Manor Archive (home of the original European settlers on Shelter Island in eastern Long Island, New York, and continually occupied by the Sylvesters from 1652 to the late-20th century); several LGBTQ+ and AIDS activists' papers (Harry Kondoleon, Richard Berkowitz, Gay USA,); "The Soul of Reason" radio program (SoR) hosted by Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., Director of the Institute of Afro-American Affairs (IAAA) at NYU at the time (1971-1986)

Sarah Lawrence College - includes student newspaper archives, Student War Board Scrapbook, 1942-1946

Fordham University - includes Bronx African American Oral History Project, Bronx Italian American History Project, Hudson River collection, Cuban baseball, Harlem Hellfighters photos, 16-18th century map collections of New York and New England, The Ram campus newspaper (1918-2006), oral histories of the first class of women in the history at Fordham and the events and issues of the 1964-68.

St. John's University - The Torch (student newspaper); political, cultural, and religious student publications, a diary kept by the priests at St. John's from 1865-1892, etc.

Concordia College The Drone student literary arts magazine (1964-1969), Blue & Gold student newspaper (1913-1940), the Looking Glass student literary arts magazine (1996-1998)

Wagner College - Edwin Markham archive (Charles Edwin Anson Markham was born in Oregon, spent the early part of his career in California, but moved to Staten Island in 1901. Markham was a Christian Socialist and prolific letter writer and had correspondence with many important figures of his time, including Ambrose Bierce, Jack London, Carl Sandburg, Herbert Hoover, Amy Lowell, and Throdore and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Markham is best known for his spirited protest against the exploitation of poor laborers; Wagnerian student newspaper, and Nimbus student literary magazine

Hebrew Union College - some of its special collections can be viewed online, but they don't have a separate page for digital collections, so it's difficult to determine what of it can be accessed via the Web

Yeshiva University - Bialystoker Maggid, Cantorial Manuscripts, Henry Morais Papers, New York Synagogue Bulletins, Rabbi Doctor Norman Lamm collections Soviet Jewry Movement Oral History Project, Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry Poster Collection, Yeshiva University Libraries Manuscripts, Yeshiva University Yearbooks

Cornell University - Cornell Hip Hop Collection (Joe Conzo, Jr., "The man who took Hip-Hop's baby pictures," photographic archive of the South Bronx between 1978 and 1983; party and event flyers ca. 1977-1984); Cornell Daily Sun (1880-1986), publications from the Cornell University Archives 1868-1945, Ezra Cornell papers, etc.


Online Primary Source Collections

New York State Library (Regent Joseph E. Bowman Jr. Research Library) was established by law in 1818, to collect, preserve, and make available materials that support NY State government work. The Library’s collections include over 20 million items, and are utilized by researchers on-site, online, and via interlibrary loan. In addition to New York state publications, born digital since 1995, their Digital Collections include some historical materials from the 18th through the early 20th century in many subject areas, including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, Native American materials, New York State laws and natural history. While books make up the core collection, Digital Collections also include primary source materials such as letters, diaries and rare manuscripts as well as maps, music scores, and other visual materials.

The New York Academy of Medicine Library is one of a handful of libraries in the U.S. and the only one of its kind in New York to provide open, public access. The library holds over 550,000 volumes, including a rare book collection of approximately 32,000 volumes; 275,000 portraits and illustrations; approximately 400,000 pamphlets; and over 1,600 linear feet of manuscripts and archives. Its two digital collections that could be useful to students of this class are the Robert Matz Hospital Postcards and New York Milk Committee Ephemera Collection.

Tenement Museum - this museum "explores the uniquely American story of immigration through a dilapidated tenement building at 97 Orchard Street that served as apartments from 1860s through the 1930s. 
Archive - "the Museum maintains an institutional archive containing...research projects and exhibitions, and interpretive content including biographical material about former residents...and other people associated with 97/103 Orchard Street or the Lower East Side and their descendants...Our historical document collection focuses on...copies of primary sources obtained from archives and libraries, including ship manifests, census records, city directories and newspapers, as well as personal documents like report cards. The Museum’s archives are available for research by appointment in advance only. Generally, appointments are available Monday – Friday between 10am and 5pm, and must be confirmed two weeks in advance of the requested date. Further instructions for accessing the archives are listed [on the website]." - Website
Photographs - "the Museum holds a collection of over 1,400 photographs, featuring images of 97 and 103 Orchard Streets, both as a residence and a Museum and is available and searchable online from our website" - Website  

Algonquin Round Table - a website entirely devoted to a group of New York City writers, critics, actors, and wits (regulars included Beatrice Kaufman, Franklin Pierce Adams, Heywood Broun, Harold Ross and Alexander Woollcott) whose daily luncheons at the Algonquin Hotel in midtown Manhattan (59 West 44th St) during the 1920s influenced their nationally syndicated newspaper columns. The site contains an extensive reading list.

Daily News NYC history (1600-1989) article archive -  articles published in the NY Daily News about NYC history; a good place to get research topic ideas; also includes a collection of photos 

Museum of the City of New York
MCNY is an art and history museum located in Manhattan's Upper East Side. Onsite collections access requires an appointment, and scheduling is based on staff availability. MCNY strongly encourage researchers to contact the Museum at least one month prior to when you would like to visit. Onsite Collections Access Request must be completed before the visit.
Collections Portal: explore New York’s past through nearly 205,000 objects from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York   
Museum of the City of New York catablog: The catablog is a research tool, providing information online that is not yet available in the Collections Portal

New York Historical Society's Museum and Library Digital Collections - includes Revolutionary Era broadsides, Civil War collections, Manuscripts related to slavery, ephemera, New York African Free School collection, etc. 

New York Public Library's digital collections - includes Crime in New York 1850–1950, Five Points Site, Harlem history, LaGuardia and Wagner archives, New York City collection of digitized historical books, etc.

New York Heritage - is a collaborative project of eight Empire State Library Network and a portal to hundreds of free digital collections about New York State's people, places, and institutions contributed by libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions.

9/11 Museum Collection - "is an online catalog with a searchable database of selected objects from the Museum’s permanent collection. The database is continually being expanded to include more of the Museum’s rich holdings. The permanent collection has more than 11,000 artifacts, including ephemera, textiles, artwork, oral histories, books and manuscripts. The collection also includes over 300 moving images, and more than 40,000 print and digital photographs." - website 

Weeksville Heritage Center - "is a multidisciplinary museum dedicated to preserving the history of the 19th century African American community of Weeksville, Brooklyn - one of America’s many free black communities." They have two digital archives: collections of oral history and text-based documents in the 5th of July Resource Center for Self-Determination & Freedom

South Street Seaport Museum - "The South Street Seaport Museum is a cultural institution dedicated to telling the story of the rise of New York as a port city and its critical role in the development of the United States." - website It doesn't have any online collections, but you can get a sense of what they have in their collections (architectural elements and building components, paintings, drawings, lithographs and prints of New York City scenes, trade cards, menus, programs, postcards, tickets, broadsides, music sheets, and advertisements, navigational instruments, shipwright tools, and ship components, ship models and plans, scrimshaw, and other objects from the neighborhood) and how to access them.

Queens Public Library Queens Library WPA artwork, newspapers and periodicals, maps, books, photographic collections, Easthampton inhabitants and its Indian tribes papers, business and family papers from famous Queens residents, ships and whaling voyages log books, Women’s Industrial Service League, Inc. records, etc.