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A Guide to American History

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

U.S. Urban Regions

map and list from:

Dunn, Edgar Streeter, The Development of the U.S. Urban System (Washington, DC: Resources for the Future, 1980-1983).

Reference Works

Encyclopedia of Urban America: The cities and suburbs (1998) - two volumes with bibliographical references 

Encyclopedia of American Urban History (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2007) - eBook

Important Subject Subheadings for Primary Sources

Subject Headings

General and Geographic

Cities and towns -- United States – History – 1Xth century


                            --      [state]       --  [city]

City and town life              "                   "

Cities and towns --            "            -- Maps

[city] -- [state] --

Metropolitan areas

Inner cities

Social movements

Child welfare

Child welfare workers

Community power

Community development, Urban

Historic preservation

Progressivism (United States politics)

Social reformers

Social workers

Urban renewal

Women social reformers

Women social workers

Women in the professions


City planning 

City planning and redevelopment law

Environmental policy

Law enforcement

Municipal government

Municipal services

Housing policy

Public housing

Refuse and refuse disposal

Urban policy


Enterprise zones

Export processing zones

Free ports and zones

Industrial promotion

Industrial sites

Economic development


[ethnic] Americans

Indians of North America

Men -- United States 
Men, White 

Men, Black vs. African American men
Middle class men 
Older men 
Working class men
Young men 



Skilled labor


Working class

Rich people

Upper class


Architecture and Infrastructure

Central business districts

Historic districts


Landscape architecture


Public spaces


Urban landscape architecture

Urban parks

Social Statistics

Labor supply


Job creation



Cost and standard of living

Mass culture and mass human movement

Emigration and immigration

Migration, Internal

Rural-urban migration



Community gardens


Social Action

Social Movements




Subheadings for finding primary source material


Sources - indicates a print anthology of primary sources; ex: The Young Lords: A reader


Periodicals - databases like MAS Ultra


Diaries - typically preceded by the author's name

Personal narratives

Directories - such as City and Business Directories (Archives Unbound) for 10, mostly Southern states between 1752-1929 or  fold3 History and Genealogy Archives


Proprietary Primary Source Databases

Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture (1790-1920) contains over 2 million pages from manuscripts, books, broadsheets, and periodicals, reflecting the widespread impact of the changes in crime and its policing during the long nineteenth century. The archive unites a number of geographic areas and disciplines, from law, criminology, and history to studies of popular culture and fiction.

Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950-1975 Rock and Roll, Counterculture, Peace and Protest" manuscripts and typescripts, newspapers, magazines, press kits, artist’s files, photographs, advertisements, memorabilia, and more from prominent library collections in the U.S. and UK. Key features include original video footage on key events and topics, and a multi-faceted chronology of the period with embedded articles and images.

Ancestry - genealogical and historical research sources. Contains more than 1.5 billion names in over 4,000 databases, including records from the United States Census from 1790 - 1940; immigration records; military records; court, land and probate records; vital and church records; directories; passenger lists

USA Counties features over 6,300 data items for the United States, States and counties from a variety of sources. Files include data published for 2010 population as well as many other items from the 2010 Census of Population and Housing , the 1990 census, the 1980 census and the 2007, 2002, 1997, and 1992 economic censuses. Information in USA Counties is derived from the following general topics: accommodation and food services, age, agriculture, ancestry, banking, building permits, county business patterns, civilian labor force, crime, earnings, education, elections, employment, government, health, Hispanic or Latino households, housing, income, manufactures, nonemployer statistics, population, poverty, race and Hispanic origin, retail trade, social programs, survey of business owners, taxes, veterans, vital statistics, water use, and wholesale trade. 

Archives of Sexuality and Gender, Parts I and II: LGBTQ History and Culture Since 1940 presents important aspects of LGBTQ life in the second half of 20th Century and beyond from more than 35 countries. Features historical records of political and social organizations, publications by and for lesbians and gays, extensive coverage of governmental responses to the AIDS crisis, personal correspondence and interviews with numerous LGBTQ individuals.

County and Regional Histories and Atlases statistics, military service records, municipal and county officers, chronologies, portraits of individuals and views of urban and rural life for California, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania 

Everyday Life and Women in America, c.1800-1920 - Sources are drawn from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture, Duke University and the New York Public Library. Contains monographs, pamphlets, periodicals and broadsides addressing political, social and gender issues, religion, race, education, employment, marriage, sexuality, home and family life, health, and pastimes.

Newspapers and Popular Periodicals

American Periodicals: Newspapers & Magazines 

Chronicling America - over 1000 full-text U.S. newspaper titles from 46 states & Puerto Rico (as of 8/30/18)

National Newspapers & Magazines

  • American Periodicals (1740 - 1940)
  • Historical American Newspapers (ProQuest)
  • Nineteenth Century U. S. Newspapers (1800 - 1900)
  • New York Times, Historical (1851 - 3 year ago)
  • Washington Post (1877-1993)
  • Wall Street Journal, Historical (1889-1991)
  • Harper's Magazine Archives (1850-2016)
  • Harper's Weekly: The Civil War Era, Reconstruction, and the Gilded Age (1857 - 1912)
  • New York Review of Books (1963 - )
  • Liberty Magazine (1924-1950)

Regional Papers

The subject headings of most U.S. newspapers take the form of "City (state abbreviation) -- newspapers" such as Saint Louis (Mo.) -- Newspapers. However, that's not always the case. For example, the St. Louis Argus has been categorized as African Americans -- Missouri -- Newspapers and has two catalog records: one for microform and one for the digitized version, the latter of which does not appear under that subject heading.

  • Chicago Tribune, Historical (1849-1992)
  • Hartford Courant (1764-1987)
  • Saint Louis Post-Dispatch (1874 - 2003)
  • San Francisco Chronicle (1865 - 1922)

African American Newspapers

  • African American Newspapers (ProQuest)
  • Chicago Defender, Historical (1910-1975)
  • Cleveland Call and Post, Historical (1934-1991)
  • New York Amsterdam News, Historical (1922-1993)
  • Norfolk Journal and Guide, Historical (1921-2003)
  • Philadelphia Tribune, Historical (1912-2001)
  • Pittsburgh Courier, Historical (1911-2002)

Other Ethnic, Denominational, and Amateur Newspapers

  • Amateur Newspapers from the American Antiquarian Society (Archives Unbound)
  • American Religion: Denominational Newspapers
  • Ethnic NewsWatch
  • The First Nations Periodical Index
  • Jewish Exponent (1887-1990)
  • Jewish News Archive & Global Jewish News Source

Government Documents

See Tove Klovning's (WUSTL Law School's Foreign, Comparative & International Law Librarian) Government Information Research Guide

for the federal government, see

De-Classified Documents Reference System (DDRS) 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.

State Libraries and Archives - Digital Collections

Every state in the U.S.A. has a state archive and library. The initial purpose of these institutions was the preservation of government documents and secondarily to serve as libraries for the storage of materials lawmakers and government employees would need (land surveys, maps, reports, etc.). As time passed, they also became collected newspapers, handbills, pamphlets, realia ("three-dimensional objects from real life, whether man-made (artifacts, tools, utensils, etc.) or naturally occurring (specimens, samples, etc.," Reitz, 2020)) to preserve the state's history. The easiest way to find them is to enter "[state name] library and archive." You will often encounter state university libraries at the top of your search results but, if you keep scrolling, you should find what you're looking for. Once you've found the state archive and library you're looking for, search the site for "Digital Collections."

Other Open Access, Online Primary Sources

Terry Abraham's (University of Idaho) Repositories of Primary Sources

C-SPAN Video Library (1987-) Records, indexes, and archives all C-SPAN videos since 1987.