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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

Melvyn Dubofsky, ed. The Oxford Encyclopedia of American business, labor, and economic history (New York : Oxford University Press, 2013) eBook

John M. Herrick and Paul H. Stuart, eds. Encyclopedia of Social Welfare History in North America (Boston, MA: Credo Reference, 2011) eBook

Gwendolyn Mink and Alice O'Connor, eds. Poverty in the United States: An encyclopedia of history, politics, and policy (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2004) print

Asian Americans

Mary Yu Danico, ed. Asian American Society: An encyclopedia (Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, 2014). eBook

Franklin Ng, ed. The Asian American Encyclopedia (New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1995). print

Edith Wen-Chu Chen and Grace J. Yoo, eds. Encyclopedia of Asian American Issues Today (Santa Barbara, CA Greenwood Press, 2010). eBook

Jews, American

Stephen H. Norwood and Eunice G. Pollack, ed. Encyclopedia of American Jewish History (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2008). eBook

Frank V. Castronova, ed. Reference Library of Jewish America (Detroit, MI: Gale Group, 1999). print

Jeffrey S. Gurock, ed. American Jewish History. v. 7. America, American Jews, and the Holocaust (New York: Routledge, 1998). print

Military Industrial Complex

Peter Karsten, editor. Encyclopedia of War & American Society (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2006) eBook

Mitchell K. Hall, ed. Opposition to War: An encyclopedia of U.S. peace and antiwar movements (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2018) print

James R. Arnold and Roberta Wiener, eds. Cold War: The essential reference guide (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2012) print

Toropov, Brandon. Encyclopedia of Cold War politics (New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2000) print

Parrish, Thomas The Cold War Encyclopedia (New York: H. Holt, 1995) print

Engels, the Family, and Welfare

Walker, David M. and Daniel Gray. Historical Dictionary of Marxism (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014) eBook

Marilyn Coleman and Lawrence H. Ganong, eds. The Social History of the American Family: An encyclopedia (Los Angeles: SAGE, 2014) eBook

C. D. Kernig, ed. Marxism, Communism, and Western Society: A comparative encyclopedia (New York: Herder and Herder, 1972-73) print

Section 8 

Andrew T. Carswell, ed. The Encyclopedia of Housing 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2012) eBook

John M. Herrick and Paul H. Stuart, eds. Encyclopedia of Social Welfare History in North America (Boston, MA: Credo Reference, 2011) eBook

Racial Capitalism and James Boggs' American Revolution

Patrick L. Mason, ed. Encyclopedia of Race and Racism 2nd ed. (Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2013) eBook

Pyong Gap Min, ed. Encyclopedia of Racism in the United States (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005) print

Peter B. Levy, ed. The Civil Rights Movement in America: From Black Nationalism to the Women's Political Council (Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, an Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2015) print

Welfare and Language

Lynda Lee Kaid, Christina Holtz-Bacha, eds. Encyclopedia of Political Communication (Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2008) eBook

Guido H. Stempel III and Jacqueline Nash Gifford, eds. Historical Dictionary of political communication in the United States (Westport, CT; London: Greenwood Press, 1999) print


Encyclopedia of AIDS (New York: Springer March, 2018) eBook

Howard Chiang, ed. Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History (Farmington Hills, MI: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2019) eBook

Raymond A. Smith, ed. Encyclopedia of AIDS: A social, political, cultural, and scientific record of the HIV epidemic Rev. ed.   (New York: Penguin Books, 2001) print

Journal Databases

America: History & Life (1964-) contains only journals related history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present. 
JSTOR - multidisciplinary, a lot of full text articles, but subject headings are too broad
Hein Online - contains 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.
NexisUni - more than 15,000 news, legal and business sources, including journals, television and radio broadcasts, newswires and blogs; local, regional, national and international newspapers with deep archives; extensive legal sources for federal and state cases and statutes, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 1790 

Newspapers & Magazines

Chronicling America - over 1000 full-text U.S. newspaper titles from 46 states & Puerto Rico published between 1793-1963 (as of 8/30/18)

The subject headings of most U.S. newspapers take the form of "City (state abbreviation) -- newspapers" such as Saint Louis (Mo.) -- Newspapers. However, 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. This is another reason why it is good to experiment with keywords and subject headings and not to rely on one at the exclusion of the other.

MAS Ultra (1975 - ) - Full text for more than 700 popular magazines, plus biographies, primary source documents, pamphlets, and reference books. Complements Academic Search Complete.

Government Documents

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.
Monthly Catalogue of U.S. Government Publications (1895-1976) - issued each month by the Superintendent of Documents for the Government Printing Office and catalogs all publications of the United States government, including those of the Congress and all executive departments (with the exception of administrative and confidential or restricted documents). Records for all publications since July 1976 have been available online at the GPO's website, but this version makes all issues of the Monthly Catalog from 1895 to June 1976 available online.

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.

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.

For additional assistance with access to U.S. government documents, see Tove Klovning, librarian for U.S. government documents and foreign/comparative/international law at the Law School.


Special Collections

Urban League of St. Louis Records, 1910-1986 - This collection documents the work of the Urban League of St. Louis to meet the needs of the city's African American population. Of particular note are the files of the executive directors of the League, as well as files from the League's many projects and programs.

Delmo Housing Corporation Records - Delmo was one of ten Farm Security Administration-constructed Group Labor Home communities (6 for whites and 4 for blacks) for displaced sharecroppers and tenant farmers following the January 1939 Southern Tenant Farmers Union roadside sharecropper demonstration in Southeast Missouri. When Congress demanded the liquidation of all FSA properties in 1945, Delmo tenants and a group of St. Louis philanthropists organized the Delmo Housing Corporation to purchase the communities, and make the housing units available for sale to occupants. These Delmo Housing Corporation records cover every aspect of the organization over the years 1945 to 1976. Also included is a copy of a draft of "Delmo Saga" by W. Wilder Towle, a longtime Board member who wrote "Delmo Saga" as an account of the history of the corporation's beginnings.

American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri Records, 1930-2015 - Items in the collection include office files, promotional materials, memos, reports, financial documents, articles, conference materials, and other materials that document the history and operations of the organization

Students for a Democratic Society Records, 1956-1969 - including information from conferences and meetings, newsclippings, publications, membership lists, minutes of meetings of St. Louis chapter, and unclassified letters, as well as various publications collected by Terry Koch.

William Sentner Papers, 1918-1967 - William Sentner was a Washington University scholarship student, labor organizer, and Communist Party member. This collection documents his involvement in St. Louis labor movements, various unions, as well as material regarding his political activities and legal battles. The collection contains photographs, labor newsletters, collected news clippings about Sentner, legal and union documents, and Sentner’s personal correspondence.

Muriel and Ralph Pumphrey Papers, 1934-1993 - Muriel Elizabeth (Warren) Pumphrey, DSW (1910 – 2000) and Ralph E. Pumphrey, Ph.D. (1908 – 1997) were prominent figures in the refinement of both public-oriented and university social work education and on the history of the social work movement. The majority of this collection focuses on Ralph and Muriel’s years of professional work in St. Louis and their continued contributions to the field of social work education. 

Primary Source Databases

WUSTL Libraries has purchased access to quite a few primary source databases. They can be searched for keywords or sorted by Subject, Type, and Vendor. See Full A-Z database list

Primary Source Collections in WGSS/LGBTQ History 

see also the research guide for HIST 4918 Sexuality in the US/ HIST 301U US Sexuality

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. 

American Jewish Year Book (1899 - 2008) in Freely Accessible Journals; 1899 to 2017 in JSTOR Arts & Sciences XV provides insight into major trends in the North American Jewish community, examining Jewish education, New York Jewry, national and Jewish communal affairs, and the US and world Jewish population. 

Jewish Life in America, 1654-1954 Materials from the American Jewish Historical Society, New York. Addresses key topics such as the immigration process and evolution of early Jewish Settlements; differing strands of Judaism in America; Jewish schools and charitable institutions; and civil rights and minority rights issues.

Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 79 document projects with more than 2,400 documents, 32,000 pages of additional full-text documents, and 1,700 primary authors.