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A Guide to American History

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

Collection Development Policy

Washington University in St. Louis

Collection Development Policy

Library: Olin 

Subject: American History & American Culture Studies

Collection: General

Date revised: April 2014

Subject Librarian: Michael Schaefer


1. General purpose:

The collection development policy for the subject area of American History works to support the research and teaching of 17 core faculty members representing the study of American History and the undergraduate major and minor as well as the PhD graduate program. This policy also serves the needs of the American Culture Studies program and their undergraduate major/minor, PhD graduate certificate program, and Master’s degree in AMCS through University College program.


2. Subjects excluded:

The collection covers North America, specifically the United States and some of Canada but does not cover Mexico. However the collection covers the Hispanic American experience such as Chicano and Latino Studies.


3. Overlap with other collections or subjects: 

American History can overlap with many collected areas especially if those subjects/disciplines are focused on the American experience. Many Americanist faculty members are also affiliated with other programs of study like African American Studies, American Culture Studies, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

4. Languages included and excluded:

We collect English language resources extensively. Sources related to Latin America excludes non-English language items.

5. Geographical limitations:

Emphasis is on the history of the United States, and to a lesser extent the history of Canada and Latin America.

6. Chronological limits:

The collection provides resources for all periods, from prehistory and early discovery through the Colonial period, nineteenth and twentieth centuries to the present.


7. Retrospective acquisition:


Priority is placed on acquiring current materials through our American History approval plan and subject librarian firm orders. However, materials that are retrospective will be purchased only at the request of faculty and graduate students to support their teaching and research.


8. Types of material collected and excluded:

Resources Collected:

  • Monographs 
  • Periodicals
  • Reference Works 
  • Electronic and Audiovisual (videos).

Works addressed to a popular, non-scholarly audience are collected on a highly selective basis. Textbooks are purchased only in special circumstances, such a demonstrated need for purchasing of overview sources on a particular subject, or for reference purposes.

9. Other factors to consider:

Collecting within the subject area of American History is possible through the Mary J. Klem Endowment, the History Approval Plan, and the Shindler Gift Fund.  The Klem endowment is used to provide resources on the subjects of government and history with an emphasis on American History.

AMCS does not have a special budget. The American History approval and endowed funds typically purchase items that meet the needs of the program.


10. Subjects and Collecting Levels:

We collect at various levels which include Representative, Selective, and Comprehensive. These areas include Pre-colonial, Colonial/Revolutionary (1600-1789), National Period/Civil War (1789-1865), Reconstruction to the Progressive Era (1865-1920), and Recent America (1920-present).

E 1-905 America. United States

F 1-3799 United States Local History. Latin America. Canada