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How to Find Books
General Books

Middleton Library's collection of books about United States History is seachable in the online catalog and via Discovery (a "one-stop shopping" service that searches the catalog, many databases and online resources that the LSU Libraries subscribe to, and the Hathi Trust Digital Library, a collection of 11 million digitized books from more than 50 major research libraries).

Rare Books

Special Collections in Hill Memorial Library also has many books about United States History. To limit your search to Special Collections in the catalog, use the advanced search feature and select Hill Memorial Library under the library tab. If using Discovery, select "Special Collections" under "Location." This can be a good way of finding primary sources, since many of the books in Special Collections are first-hand accounts of historical events. Although the Special Collections shelving areas are not open to the public, you can browse virtually by finding a book relevant to the topic of your research and clicking "nearby items on shelf" in the catalog record.

Separate guides to published materials in Special Collections are available for some U.S. History topics. 

Reference Books

If you are looking for a quick introduction to a subject, a reference book can be a great place to start. Although some encyclopedias only contain very short articles, subject-specific encyclopedias provide more in-depth information. Also try reference works like the Cambridge Histories Online or the Oxford Companions, which contain scholarly essays written for general readers. Many of these resources are available online in the History Reference Center (LSU logon required). You can limit your search to encyclopedias or reference books under "Publication Type."

Other Guides

See also the separate topic guide for Louisiana History.
How to Find Articles
The easiest and most efficient way to search for scholarly journal articles, essays, and introductory encyclopedia articles related to U.S. History is to use Discovery.  This "one-stop shopping" service searches the catalog as well as many databases and online resources that the LSU Libraries subscribe to.  Use the advanced search to limit your search to scholarly journals.

You can also search individually through the following full-text article databases and indexes that Discovery searches. Click each link to learn more.

History Reference Center -- primarily reference books
America: History and Life -- more than 200 journals on U.S. and Canadian history
C19: Nineteenth Century Index -- full-text access to many 19th-century publications
JSTOR  -- includes more than 300 academic history journals
Project Muse -- 6,000 full-text History books and journals
Web of Knowledge -- includes the Arts & Humanities Citation Index
Ingenta -- 169 History publications, mostly journals
PAIS International -- for articles on world history; many not in English

How to Find Archives / Manuscripts
You can find archives / manuscript collections in U.S. repositories by searching in the databases below:

Archive Finder
Archive Grid
WorldCat (use Advanced Search and limit type to Archival Materials)

Be aware that although they overlap to some extent, each database has material not in the others.  Also keep in mind that records are brief and do not list every single item or person referred to in the collection.  You may have to contact the archive and see if they have a more detailed finding aid or inventory. 

Also be aware that many institutions have not fully cataloged their holdings, and some repositories, especially small historical societies and private or business archives, have not reported their holdings to these databases.  For example, the holdings of the Archives of the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge do not show up in these databases.  Sometimes the best thing to do is a simple web search.

Repositories of Primary Sources is a directory of over 5,000 archives websites worldwide.

For information on LSU's extensive archival collections, visit the Special Collections website.

Selected Digital Resources

The largest open-access (free) digital libraries are Google Books and the Hathi Trust Digital Library.  Other major projects include the Library of Congress American Memory Project, Making of America (19th-century U.S. History), and the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

Hundreds of smaller digital libraries exist.  For a partial list of the ones that focus on U.S. history, see State Digital Resources: Memory Projects, Online Encyclopedias, Historical & Cultural Materials CollectionsAnother excellent list is 250+ Killer Digital Libraries and Archives.  Scroll to the bottom of each list to see multi-state projects.

Chronicling America is the largest free database of full-text-searchable digital images of U.S. newspapers. At present, it covers the period 1830 to 1923. Many states have individual newspaper digitization projects. See Directory of Digitzed Newspapers.

The David Rumsey Map Collection has over 45,000 maps and images online. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century American maps and other cartographic materials.

Early America:

Early American Imprints, Series 1
Digital images of nearly every book, pamphlet, and broadside published in America, 1639-1800.

Early American Imprints, Series 2
Digital images of selected books, pamphlets, and broadsides published in the U.S., 1800-1819.

Early English Books Online
Digital images of books published in English, including in British North America, 1473-1700.

European Views of the Americas, 1493 to 1750
Guide to printed records about the Americas written in Europe.

History Vault
Digital access to the microfilm series Records of Antebellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War.

Civil War:

American Civil War Online
Includes four databases: Letters and Diaries; Civil War Research Database; Images of the American  Civil War; and Illustrated Civil War Newspapers & Magazines.

HarpWeek (Harper's Weekly)
Full-text access to this important illustrated newspaper for the years 1857-1871.


North American Women's Diaries and Letters
Colonial times to 1950.

Women and Social Movements, 1600-2000.
Organized around 65 document projects that pose an interpretive questions.

African Americans:

Oxford African American Studies Center
Interactive encyclopedia.

Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922
Materials printed by and about African Americans.

African American Newspapers, 1827-1998
270 newspapers published in 36 states.

The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record
Collection of 1,280 images.

Historical Chicago Defender
Influential African-American newspaper, 1909-1975.

See also the LSU Libraries' subject guide to African & African American Studies.

U.S. Government Sources:

American State Papers, 1789-1838
Legislative and executive documents, many dating from the period between 1789 and the beginning of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set in 1817.

U.S. Congressional Serial Set
U.S. Congressional Serials Set Maps
Reports, documents, and journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 1817-1980.

Congressional Hearings
Oral statements, committee questions, and discussions, 1824-2003.

Papers of George Washington

Newspapers & Periodicals:

American Periodicals Series Online
Digital images of American periodicals published from 1740 to 1900.

America's Historical Newspapers
1,000 U.S. newspapers published between 1690 and 1998.

Accessible Archives
Full text of 27 mid-19th-century newspapers, including African-American newspapers.

See also the open-access newspaper archives listed above.

A list of all the History databases that the LSU Libraries provide access to is available here.

Printed copies of the United States Census are available in the Reference Collection on the first floor of Middleton Library, near the reference desk.  Electronic resources include:

American FactFinder
(U.S. Census Bureau)
Historical Census Browser
Statistical Abstract of the United States

Still need help?
If you are new to historical research, see the "Basic Tips for Beginners" on the general subject guide to History.

For one-on-one research assistance, please feel free to contact the History Subject Librarian, Michael TaylorYou can also call the Middleton Library Reference Desk at (225) 578-8875 or the Hill Memorial Library (Special Collections) Reference Desk at (225) 578-6568.

Subject Specialist
Picture: Michael Taylor

Michael Taylor
Assistant Curator of Books
Tel: 578-6547

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