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A Guide to American History

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

Reference Works - A Place to Begin

Mark A.R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon, eds. Encyclopedia of Drug Policy (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc, 2011) - approximately 450 entries in an A-to-Z format, this encyclopedia explores the controversial drug war through the lens of varied disciplines. A full spectrum of articles explains topics from Colombian cartels and Mexican kingpins to television reportage; from "just say no" advertising to heroin production; and from narco-terrorism to more than $500 billion (as of publication in 2011) in U.S. government expenditures. eBook

Helen Taylor Greene & Shaun L. Gabbidon, eds. Encyclopedia of Race and Crime (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2009) - 380 signed entries with accompanying cross references and bibliographies and suggested readings  to guide readers to more in-depth sources and classics in the field covering issues in both historical and contemporary context, with information on race and ethnicity and their impact on crime and the administration of justice.  eBook

Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History essays are based on the latest, most persuasive research and incorporate visual and sound materials and links to original sources that could not be included in a traditional printed encyclopedia. It includes entries for major cities like Atlanta, Baltimore, Bethlehem (PA), Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, El Paso, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Jose and Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C. as well as subject divisions by ethnicity (African, Asian, Latino, and Native American), temporal and topical themes.  NOTE: This trial ends February 24. eBook

See also keyword search = [City name] + encyclopedias - There are encyclopedias for many big U.S. cities, like The Encyclopedia of Chicago or The Encyclopedia of New York City, but, sometimes, their subject is "Chicago Region" and state abbreviations are not always the two-letter USPS abbreviation.

Also, pay attention to subheadings like "bibliography," as in this item: Saint Louis: An annotated bibliography on the city & its area under Saint Louis (Mo.) -- Bibliography.

Academic Journal Article Databases

Subject-specific eJournal collections

America: History & Life (1964-)  - a complete bibliographic reference to the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present. Published since 1964, the database comprises almost 400,000 bibliographic entries.

Hein Online - more than 900 searchable full-text law journals and many legal resources, including the Code of Federal Regulations, United States Code, and U.S. Statutes at Large. Useful for U.S. political history.

Multidisciplinary Academic Journal databases

Google Scholar vs. Primo

JSTOR vs. Academic Search Complete

Primary Sources

Other Periodicals

Independent Voices - a collection of alternative press newspapers, magazines and journals, drawn from the special collections of participating libraries. These periodicals were produced by feminists, dissident GIs, campus radicals, Native Americans, anti-war activists, Black Power advocates, Hispanics, LGBT activists, the extreme right-wing press and alternative literary magazines during the latter half of the 20th century.

Leftist Newspapers and Periodicals - a collection of English-language publications spanning beyond the 20th century (1845-2015) covering Communist, Socialist and Marxist thought, theory and practice. Issues covered include workers’ rights, organized labor, labor strikes, Nazi atrocities, McCarthyism’s rise after WWII, Civil Rights, and modern-day class struggles which give rise to renewed interest in alternative social organizations. This collection includes 145 titles with over 150,000 digitized pages.

American Prison Newspapers, 1800-2020: Voices from the Inside brings together 137 U.S. prison periodicals from across the country into one collection that will represent penal institutions of all kinds, with special attention paid to women's-only institutions. Open access through JSTOR.

Government Documents

U. S. Declassified Documents Online - selected previously classified government documents ranging from the years immediately following World War II, when declassified documents were first made widely available, through the 1970s. Search by name, date, word, or phrase, or focus on document type, issue date, source institution, classification level, date declassified, sanitization, completeness, number of pages, and document number. Nearly every major foreign and domestic event of these years is covered: the Cold War, Vietnam, foreign policy shifts, the civil rights movement, and others.

govinfo - a service of the United States Government Publishing Office (GPO). By law, GPO aims to provide a comprehensive index of every document issued or published by a department, bureau, or office not confidential in character. GPO administers this program and provides public access to this index through the online bibliographic records contained in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP). The CGP is available at as a finding tool for Government publications, containing records with information about publications in many different file formats. When you search the CGP for a publication, you will find a record that tells you where you can find the publication, whether at a physical library or through a link to the full-text electronic version when available, including records for content available on govinfo and links to govinfo for access to these publications. 


Historical Statistics of the United States - a standard source for quantitative facts of American history. Contains over 37,000 data series from over 1,000 sources

Statistical Abstracts, Historical - links to .pdf versions of earlier editions of Statistical Abstract of the United States, and to the Bicentennial Edition: Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970.

U.S. Congress

Legislative Insight (1929 - ) contains over 18,000 federal legislative histories with digital full text publications covering laws from 1929 to present. For federal laws between 1969 and current, coverage will be similar to ProQuest Congressional. This database provides legislative histories for 10,000 laws passed between 1929 and 1968 that are not in ProQuest Congressional.

ProQuest Congressional - comprehensive access to U.S. legislative information. Includes: CIS Legislative Histories (public laws back to 1969), Congressional publications (1817 - ), testimony from Congressional hearings (1824-), Congressional Record and Federal Register, U.S. Serial Set, 1789-1969, Serial Set Maps, 1789-1969, and more.

African Americana

Umbra Search African American History - 22,286 items from more than 1,000 U.S. archives, libraries, and museums.

African American Communities - Focusing predominantly on Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, New York, and towns and cities in North Carolina this resource presents multiple aspects of the African American community through pamphlets, newspapers and periodicals, correspondence, official records, reports and in-depth oral histories, revealing the prevalent challenges of racism, discrimination and integration, and a unique African American culture and identity.

Black Studies Center - Includes scholarly essays, recent periodicals, historical newspaper articles, and much more. Combines such invaluable resources as: Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, International Index of Black Periodicals (IIBP), The Chicago Defender, and Black Literature Index.

Black Thought and Culture - Contains 1,297 sources with 1,098 authors, covering the non-fiction published works of leading African Americans, as well as interviews, journal articles, speeches, essays, pamphlets, letters and other fugitive material.

Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th century - Primary source material from federal agencies, letters, papers, photographs, scrapbooks, financial records, and diaries. Module one consists of 37 collections of organizational records and personal papers, and the second module is comprised of 36 collections from federal government agencies.

American Indians / Native Americans / Indigenous People of North America

Indigenous Peoples: North America - traces the history of Native Peoples in North America from colonial relations in the 1600s to twentieth-century issues such as civil rights. Includes manuscript collections, rare books and monographs, newspapers, periodicals, census records, legal documents, maps, drawings and sketches, oral histories, and photos. Also features video content from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

War Department and Indian Affairs, 1800-1824 - from 1789 until the Bureau of Indian Affairs was established in 1824, Indian affairs were under the direct control of the Secretary of War. This collection consists of the letters received by and letters sent to the War Department, including correspondence from Indian superintendents and agents, factors of trading posts, Territorial and State governors, military commanders, Indians, missionaries, treaty and other commissioners, Treasury Department officials, and persons having commercial dealings with the War Department, and other public and private individuals.

American Indian Correspondence: Presbyterian Historical Society Collection of Missionaries' Letters, 1883-1893 a collection of almost 14,000 letters written by those who served as Presbyterian missionaries to the American Indians during the years from 1833 to 1893.

American Indian Movement and Native American Radicalism - formed in 1968, the American Indian Movement (AIM) expanded from its roots in Minnesota and broadened its political agenda to include a searching analysis of the nature of social injustice in America. These FBI files provide detailed information on the evolution of AIM as an organization of social protest and the development of Native American radicalism.


Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930 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, Immigration to the US includes more than 2,200 books, pamphlets, and serials, over 9,600 pages from manuscript and archival collections, and more than 7,800 photographs. By incorporating diaries, biographies, and other writings capturing diverse experiences, the collected material provides a window into the lives of ordinary immigrants.

Immigrations, Migrations, and Refugees: Global Perspectives, 1941 - 1996 - news and analysis from reports gathered every day between the early 1940s and 1996 by a U.S. government organization that became part of the CIA. These include translated and English-language radio and television broadcasts, newspapers, periodicals and government documents. Additionally, the archive contains one-of-a-kind analysis of the reports.

Yearbook of Immigration Statistics (1996-2016) A compendium of tables that provides data on foreign nationals who, during a fiscal year, were granted lawful permanent residence (i.e., admitted as immigrants or became legal permanent residents), were admitted into the United States on a temporary basis (e.g., tourists, students, or workers), applied for asylum or refugee status, or were naturalized. Also presents data on immigration law enforcement actions, including alien apprehensions, removals, and prosecutions.

Other Databases

Quarantine and Disease Control in America: Parts I & II - deadly epidemics have been challenging the populace since the earliest settlers came to American shores. Research and read first-hand accounts of American infectious diseases in these collections. Part I: Newspapers (1736-1922), Part II: Books (1823-1928). [This may sound unrelated to this course's content, but I found articles about opium in there. - MHS]

American History 1493-1945 - This unique collection documents American History from the earliest settlers to the mid-twentieth century[This may sound unrelated to this course's content, but I found 229 references to opium cannabis in there, as well as one for cannabis. - MHS]