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Resources for United States History

Page history last edited by pwjennings@... 11 years, 8 months ago

Scope  ll  Finding Books  ll  Finding Articles  ll  History Databases  ll  Online Search Techniques

Types of Resources  ll  Journals vs. Magazines  ll  Internet vs. Library Databases

Evaluating Resources  ll  Citing Sources  ll  Off-campus Access 


This guide presents resources for the study of United States History, from the “pre-history” of native North American Indians to the period of exploration and discovery in the late fifteenth century, through the present.

Finding Print and Online Books:

To look for books available at JSRCC Libraries, search the VCCSLinc Library Catalog.

Sample Subject Key Words to search:


By time period:

united states historyindians of north americanorth america discovery and explorationunited states history colonial periodunited states history revolutionunited states history 18th centuryunited states history 19th centuryunited states history 20th centuryunited states history 21st century; etc.


To use a popular term for a U.S. history time period, try a general keyword search.

(Select yes in Words adjacent?):

gilded ageprogressive eramanifest destiny; etc.       


By political/social movement or event:

constitutional history united statesdepressions 1929civil rights movements southern statesnew dealterritorial expansionslavery united states; etc.


By specific wars, search by name of war:

iraq warfrench and indian warwar on terrorismrevolution 1775-1783civil war 1861-1865world war 1914-1918world war 1939-1945; cold warvietnam war; etc.     

Browse books by Selected Call Number Subject Range

(Call numbers and subjects included here are general and not comprehensive): 



Selected Print and Online Books available at JSRCC:  





Search in VCCSLinc Library Catalog, by person name (last name, first name) and choose a Subject keywords from the Choose Search Type menu. Also try the subject keywords United States and Biography.



Chronologies/Time Lines



Finding Online Books through NetLibrary:



Provides access to over 10,000 online full-text books in a wide variety of subject areas including American history. To access off-campus, you will first need to create a NetLibrary account on a campus computer.  From the NetLibrary home page, click on Create a Free Account in the upper right hand corner of the screen.  


  • Click here for instructions on creating a NetLibrary account and getting started.
  • Click here for additional NetLibrary help.


Primary  Sources:

"Primary sources are materials produced by people or groups directly involved in the event or topic under consideration, either as participants or as witnesses."



Examples of primary sources, both print and online, include:


  • Official documents, reports and publications
  • Letters, diaries, memoirs, or published writings
  • Newspaper or magazine articles
  • Speeches
  • Autobiographies
  • Statistical data
  • Oral or transcribed interviews
  • Artifacts & realia
  • Maps
  • Audio & Visual Materials – Photographs, film & video, digitized collections, sound recordings


Also try library subject heading terms, such as sources and personal narratives, to help identify primary source books in the library catalog.


Finding Articles through the Library Databases


From the library web page:

  1. Click on Databases by Subject.
  2. Then click on the subject, History.


Academic Search Complete

Comprehensive scholarly, multi-disciplinary full-text database, with more than 5,500 full-text periodicals, including more than 4,600 peer-reviewed journals. In addition to full text, this database offers indexing and abstracts for more than 9,500 journals and a total of more than 10,000 publications including monographs, reports, conference proceedings, etc. The database features PDF content going back as far as 1887, with the majority of full text titles in native (searchable) PDF format. Searchable cited references are provided for nearly 1,000 journals. (EBSCOhost)


Search Tips:

  • Try an Advanced Search.
  • Use the asterisk (*) which is the truncation symbol to pick up all forms of a root word.
    • e.g., slave* will find slave, slaves, slavery
  • Exclude book reviews
  • Checkmark the Full Text box to limit your results to full text articles. 


Search example (words placed in separate search boxes):

abolition AND john brown NOT book reviews

History Resource Center: U.S.

One-stop source for a variety of historical data.  Provides integrated access to over 1,000 primary documents, nearly 100 full text journals, and 2000 images and maps.  Reference sources include American Decades, American Eras, DISCovering U.S. History, and Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. (Gale) **Access restrictions: Only 2 users at any one time; be sure to close your Internet browser when done. 


Search Tips:

  • Try and Advanced Search.
  • From the Advanced Search screen, select Subject from the drop down menu on the left.
  • From the Advanced Search screen, you can also limit your search to: an historic time period and document type (e.g.,Biography, Overview Essay, Periodical, Primary Document, Viewpoint Essay).
  • From the Advanced Search screen, try other types of searches using the drop down menu on the left (e.g.,  Person, Subject, Title).
  • Click on Search Tips at the top for more complete instructions.


Search example:

women's suffrage

Issues & Controversies in American History

Includes biographies, timelines, background articles, photographs, and maps that extend the curriculum-based coverage of historical events. Provides the points of view on all sides of the debates as they were presented at the time (Facts on File Services).


Search Tips:

  • Browse through topics by using the Subject Index option.
  • Do a keyword search.


Search examples:

  • Subject Index - Politics and the Presidency
  • Keyword - Lincoln-Douglas Debates


Digital archive of full text core journals in humanities, social sciences and sciences. It contains the entire runs of over 500 important scholarly journals, from the first volume up to the volumes published 3-5 years ago, excluding the current year.  Each journal has a "moving wall" of 3-5 years after which the current issues are added to JSTOR.  


Search Tips:

  • Try an Advanced Search.
  • Use the asterisk (*) whic is the the truncation symbol to find all forms of a root word
    • e.g., slave* will find slave, slaves, slavery
  • Use quotes ( " " ) to find an exact phrase
    • e.g., "trail of tears"
  • Exclude book reviews by checkmarking the Article box from the Limit to: Type section.
  • Limit your search to a specific Discipline/s and/or Journal/s
    • e.g., African American Studies, American Indian Studies, History


Search example:

cherokee* AND "trail of tears"

Project Muse

From Johns Hopkins University Press, this database provides online access to over 300 high quality humanities, arts, and social sciences journals from 60 scholarly publishers.  Full text of most journals is presented for the past 10-15 years.  However, for titles common to Project MUSE and JSTOR, Muse links to articles from the back issues archived in JSTOR. (Johns Hopkins University Press).


Search Tips:

  • Try an Advanced Search.
  • Use the asterisk (*) whic is the the truncation symbol to find all forms of a root word
    • e.g., slave* will find slave, slaves, slavery
  • Use quotes ( " " ) to find an exact phrase
    • e.g., "trail of tears"
  • Exclude book reviews by checkmarking the Articles Only (No Reviews) box from the Additional Search Options: Type of Content section.
  • Limit your search to a specific Discipline by selecting from the By Discipline menu
    • e.g., American Studies, African American Studies, History


Search example:

loyalists OR tories OR royalists OR "king's men"


Harp Week: The Civil War Era (1857-1877)

Provides access to the Civil War era content and pages of historic Harper's Weekly magazine. The database provides indexing that matches 19th century words, phrases and images with today's terminology as well as digital images of every page of the magazine. Searches can be done by occupation or role in society, or by searching any combination of four indexes: subject, illustrations, literature, and publishing. (HarpWeek, LLC.) 

Oxford African American Studies Center

Provides access to the three-volume Encyclopedia of African American History 1619-1895, the three-volume Black Women in America, and the highly acclaimed Africana, a five-volume history of the African and African American experience. The Center is also in the process of including contents from the African American National Biography and the Encyclopedia of African American Art and Architecture. In addition, AASC offers other key resources from Oxford's reference program, including the Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature and selected articles from other reference works.  (Oxford)



Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project

America in the Thirties

American Civil War Homepage

American Journeys: Eyewitness Accounts of Early American Exploration and Settlement

American Memory (Library of Congress)

American Presidency Project  

American Women’s History  

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writer’s Project  

Calisphere: a World of Primary Sources   

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers  

Civil Rights Digital Library  

Cold War International History Project

Crisis of the Union  

David Rumsey Historical Maps Collection  

Documenting the American South  

Early Americas Digital Archive  

Folkstreams.net: a National Preserve of Documentary Films About American Roots Cultures

Foreign Relations of the United States  

Historic Government Documents from World War II  

History Matters: the U.S. Survey Course on the Web  

The History of Jim Crow  

Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Making of America  

National Archives and Records Administration: Access to Archival Databases

Open Collection Program: Immigration to the United States, 1789 to 1930 

Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection: United States

Story Corps (Oral History Project)

Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture: a Multi-Media Archive

Wars for VietNam: 1945-1975

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