United States Collections
We have an extensive collection of materials from relating to the current United States of America from the Colonial Period to the Civil Rights era and after. These pages, along with our Canadian and Latin American guides, also provide information of our holdings on relating to Native American history.
We make available a significant collection of printed primary sources covering the United States from Independence. Its highlights include bibliography, administrative records, Presidential papers, and extensive editions of letters, transatlantic correspondence, journals and diaries written by individuals across different time periods. In addition, the collection includes resources on individual states and a considerable number of travel writing and exploration diaries. Another highlight of the collection is personal narratives written during wartime, including Civil War diaries experienced from the home-front.
The majority of the collection is on open access in the Americas room. Items marked onsite or offsite store can be requested. Pre-revolution history is in the Colonial sequence (classmark CLAA). The post-independence collections are split between classmarks:
- Bibliography (classmark UB) offsite store
- US Federal Government records (classmark UF) (pre-1800 mostly open access, post-1800 onsite store)
- State History (classmark US) most material on 13 original colonies/states and Texas and Illinois are on open access, remainder in onsite store.
Native American Materials
Todd Leahy & Nathan Wilson, eds., Historical dictionary of Native American movements (2016)
Western Colonial Expansion
The Territorial Papers of the United States is the largest body of sources in the library relating specifically to the western expansion of the US in the nineteenth century. The collection, consisting of 28 volumes published by the State Department, contain the official correspondence and government material relating to U.S. territories in the south and west of central North America. Different volumes relate to individual territories (volumes 13 through 15, for example, dear with the Territory of Louisiana following the annexation of the region from France in 1803). Users interested in the processes through which these territories attained statehood should consult the section of this guide entitled ‘state constitutionalism’.
The Early Western Travels series is another large collection of sources dealing with European and US imperialism in North American in the 18th and 19th centuries. The series compiles Euro-American accounts of the North American landscape and the culture of its native peoples in 32 volumes. As such, the sources differ substantial from those found in the Territorial Papers of the United States. Ego-sources including travel diaries and correspondence make up the bulk of the material in the series. The collection was compiled in 1904 and 1905 and editorial notes and introductions reflect the biases and outlook of the period in which it was published.
The IHR holds a significant amount of material relating to the practice of slavery in the United States. The collection covers a broad timespan and encompasses a range of source material as diverse as official legal proceedings on the slave trade, to correspondence between a family of former slaves and their master. Letters, diaries, correspondence, official proceedings and political journals all offer a wealth of fascinating material on the subject of slavery across the United States.
The collection includes a number of general reference works regarding slavery that include the history of the practice in the US. These offer a good starting point for general research. Please note that resources for specific states are listed later in this guide.
- Slavery, abolition and social justice, 1490-2007 [electronic resource]
- Klein, Martin A., Historical dictionary of Slavery and Abolition
- Andrews and Gates, (eds.), The Civitas Anthology of African American Slave Narratives
- Xavier University of Louisiana, Guide to the Heartman manuscripts on slavery
- Fogel, Robert Wiliam, The Slavery Debates, 1952-1990: A Retrospective
- Lowell-Dumond, Dwight, A Bibliography of Antislavery in America
- Wilson, Henry, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America
- Miller, Randall M. and Smith, John David (eds.), Dictionary of Afro-American slavery
The collection holds a number of diaries, accounts and personal works from slave holders, ex-slaves and slaves themselves. Highlights include:
- Northup, Solomon, Twelve Years a Slave
- Burton, Annie L. (et al), Women’s Slave Narratives
- Jacobs, Harriet A., Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl: Written by Herself
- Andrews, William L. (ed.), The Life of John Thompson, a fugitive slave : containing his history of 25 years in bondage and his providential escape
- Ibn Said, Omar, A Muslim American slave: the life of Omar Ibn Said
- Cottrol, Robert J. (ed.), From African to Yankee: narratives of freedom in antebellum New England
- Bleser, Carol (ed.), Secret and sacred: the diaries of James Henry Hammond, a southern slaveholder
- Steward, Austin, Twenty-two years a slave and forty years a freeman
- Perdue, Barden and Phillips (eds.), Weevils in the wheat: interviews with Virginia ex-slaves
- McCarthy and Doughton (eds.), From bondage to belonging: the Worcester slave narratives
- The Diary of Caroline Seabury: 1854-1863
- Weld, Dwight Theodore (ed.), American Slavery as it is: testimony of a thousand witnesses
- Ransom Hogan and Adams Davis, (eds.), William Johnson's Natchez : the ante-bellum diary of a free Negro
- Gladstone and Cropper, Correspondence on the present state of slavery in the British West Indies and in the United States of America
- Wilson Palmer, Beverly, The Selected Letters of Charles Sumner (abolitionist letters)
- Blassigame, John W. (ed.), The Frederick Douglass papers. Series 1, Speeches, debates, and interviews
- Miller, Randall M. (ed.), Dear Master: Letters of a Slave Family
Legal and Official Sources
- Schweninger, Loren, (ed.), The Southern Debate over Slavery. Vol. 1: Petitions to Southern legislatures, 1778-1864
- Tunnicliff Catterall, Helen, (ed.), Judicial cases concerning American slavery and the Negro
- Ripley, Peter C., (ed.), The Black Abolitionist Papers
- Finkelman, Paul, Slavery in the courtroom: an annotated bibliography of American cases
- Regosin and Shaffer, (eds.), Voices of emancipation: understanding slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction through the U.S. Pension Bureau files
- Massachusetts State Disunion Convention, Proceedings of the State disunion convention: held at Worcester, Massachusetts, January 15, 1857
- Wilson, Clyde N., Selections from the letters and speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina
- Zanca, Kenneth, J., (ed.), American Catholics and slavery: 1789-1866: an anthology of primary documents
The IHR collection also includes numerous works detailing the history of slavery within specific states of the US. Areas that are particularly strong include Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. Highlighted works are listed below:
- Meaders, Daniel, Advertisements for runaway slaves in Virginia, 1801-1820
- Parker, Freddie L. (ed.), Stealing a little freedom: advertisements for slave runaways in North Carolina, 1791-1840
- Andrews, William L.(ed.), North Carolina Slave Narratives: the lives of Moses Roper, Lunsford Lane, Moses Grandy & Thomas H. Jones
- Bushman, Claudia L, In old Virginia: slavery, farming, and society in the journal of John Walker
- Kemble, Frances Anne, Journal of a residence on a Georgian plantation in 1838-1839
- Bonnell, Phillips and Glunt, (eds.), Florida plantation records from the papers of George Noble Jones
- Ashton, Susanna, (ed.), I belong to South Carolina: South Carolina slave narratives
- Innes, C.L. (ed.), Slave life in Virginia and Kentucky : a narrative by Francis Fedric, escaped slave
Please note that access to these resources is available onsite at the IHR, or offsite for staff and students of the IHR only.
- Slavery & abolition: [a journal of comparative studies]
- Global commodities: trade, exploration & cultural exchange
- American Historical Review
- William and Mary Quarterly
- Bledsoe, Albert Taylor, An essay on liberty and slavery
- Stuckey, Sterling, Slave culture: nationalist theory and the foundations of Black America
- West, Emily, Family or freedom: people of colour in the antebellum South
- Genovese, Eugene and Fox-Genovese, Elizabeth, Fatal self-deception: slaveholding paternalism in the Old South
- Cottrol, Robert J., The long, lingering shadow: slavery, race, and law in the American hemisphere
In addition, the collections also contain materials of value for research out-with the traditional realms of slavery. Selections of other works that examine slavery in the United States include Eliza Wigham’s, The anti-slavery cause in America and its martyrs, a short story written by Wigham, a Scottish Quaker philanthropist and champion of women’s rights, published in 1863 describing ‘the frightful reality’ she encountered in America and detailing individual stories of hardship and cruelty.
The writings of Karl Marx also feature the topic of slavery in America, Dispatches for the New York Tribune: selected journalism of Karl Marx. Similarly, slavery is also a topic in David W. Blight’s Passages to Freedom: the Underground Railroad in history and memory. The field of art history can also incorporate slavery in the United States as demonstrated by Huey Copeland’s, Bound to appear: art, slavery, and the site of blackness in multicultural America. The topic of slavery in the United States can therefore be seen to incorporate various aspects of the library’s collections.
British North America, 1607-1763
The Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society is the largest series of records pertaining to the history of colonial and revolutionary Connecticut in the IHR. The library holds 23 volumes of the series containing records as diverse as:
- New Haven Colony Society: Ancient town records, eds., Franklin Bowditch Dexter and Z. J. Powers, 3 vols. (New Haven: New Haven Colony Society, 1917-).
- Records of the Particular court of Connecticut, 1639-1663, (Hartford, 1928).
Other collections include volumes of legislative and court records:
- The public records of the colony of Connecticut [1636-1776] / transcribed and published, (in accordance with a resolution of the General assembly), 15 vols. (Hartford: 1850-1890).
- Records of the colony & plantation of New Haven: Transcribed & edited in accordance with a resolution of the General Assembly of Connecticut. With occasional notes & an appendix / By Charles J. Hoadly, 2 vols. (Hartford, 1857-1858).
The library holds numerous collections of government papers relating to the colonial history of Delaware from 1631, when the counties at the mouth of the Delaware River were established under Swedish and Dutch control, to the coming of the revolution. These resources include:
- The rise and fall of New Sweden: Governor Johan Risingh's journal, 1654-1655, in its historical context / [edited by] Stellan Dahlgren and Hans Norman; [translated by Marie Clark Nelson] (Stockholm, Sweden : Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1988).
- Delaware papers (Dutch period): a collection of documents pertaining to the regulation of affairs on the South River of New Netherland, 1648-1664 / translated and edited by Charles T. Gehring (Baltimore, 1981).
- Records of the courts of Sussex County, Delaware, 1677-1710 / transcribed, edited, and with an introduction by Craig William Horle, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, c1991).
- Minutes of the House of Assembly of the three counties upon Delaware at sessions held at New Castle in the years 1740-1742 ([Wilmington?: Printed for the Public Archives Commission of Delaware, 1929]).
- Records of the court of New Castle on Delaware / Published by the Colonial society of Pennsylvania, 2 vol. (Lancaster, Pa.: Printed by the Wickersham printing company, 1904-35).
The principal collection of primary source material on colonial Georgia in the library is The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia (Atlanta, 1904-1989). The series consists of 25 volumes and contains the minutes of the colonial council and the Assembly, the correspondence of the colonial trustees (including General Oglethorpe) and governors, and the Journal of the Earl of Egmont (first president of the Board of Trustees) from 1738-1744.
Colonial resources for the region that would become to the state of Maine at the IHR include 18 volumes of York Deeds detailing property ownership in Maine during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Maine Historical Society published material from the colonial and revolutionary periods in the Documentary History of the State of Maine, 24 vols. (1869-1916). The series encompasses 19 volumes of The Baxter Manuscripts. The Baxter volumes contain an array of different types of sources including, letter correspondence, 17th century petitions to colonial officials from local landowners, and legal depositions. Other resources include:
- The Letters of Thomas Gorges, Deputy Governor of the Province of Maine, 1640-1643, edited by Robert E. Moody (Portland: Maine Historical Society, 1978).
- Proceedings of the Maine Historical Society, (Portland: The Maine Historical Society, 1913-1914).
Maryland: The main bulk of the IHR’s sources of early Maryland are to be found in the publication Archives of Maryland. The library hold the first 70 volumes and the material, as for other state archival series, mostly relate to the governance of the colony:
Proceedings of the Council of Maryland, 1636-1770 and Proceedings and acts of the General Assembly of Maryland from 1637-1774 constitute the main part of Archives of Maryland. Other court proceedings include Proceedings of the Provincial Court of Maryland. Sources of a more personal nature giving insight into different aspects of life in early Maryland include Dear Papa, Dear Charley : the peregrinations of a revolutionary aristocrat.., a collection of correspondence in 3 volumes between father and son in the years 1748-1782. Resources on Maryland can also be found in other sections of the library, for example George Luis Beer’s work in the general Colonial collection on The origins of the British colonial system, 1578-1660 has a chapter on Maryland.
The archival records for the colony of Massachusetts are the largest and most diverse of the historical society publications in the IHR collection. These volumes include an array of sources ranging from government material and congregational church records, to 17th century Election Day sermons and sources material relating to the Salem Witch Trials.
The Massachusetts Historical Society regularly publishes volumes of archival documents. Volumes are often devoted to individual collections in their holdings including The Papers of Robert Treat Paine, 3 vols. (Boston, 1992-2005) and The Belcher Papers, 2 vols. (Boston, 1893-94). Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814) was a leading patriot during the revolution and the first attorney general of the state of Massachusetts. Jonathan Belcher (1681-1757) served as the governor of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New Jersey. He support was instrumental in the founding of the Presbyterian seminary in New Jersey (later Princeton New Jersey). Other volumes published by the MHS include:
- Broadsides, ballads, &c. printed in Massachusetts 1639-1800, ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford (Boston: 1922).
- Diary of Samuel Sewall: 1674-1729, 3 vols. (Boston, 1878-1882). Sewell (1652-1730). Was a judge and printer in Massachusetts and is best known for the role he played in the Salem Witch Trials, during which he served as a magistrate. His diary recount some of the events that occurred during the trials.
Though not affiliated with a particular archive, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts has over the course of a century, published 80 volumes of sources relevant the history of colonial New England. Individual volume focus on one collection, person or theme including:
- The Pynchon Papers, edited with an introduction by Carl Bridenbaugh, 2 vols., (Boston [Charlottesville, Va.], 1982-1985). Includes the letters and account books of John Pynchon (1624-1702), a major trader in the Connecticut River valley in the early days of European settlement.
- The Glorious Revolution in Massachusetts: selected documents, 1689-1692, edited by Robert Earle Moody and Richard Clive Simmons (Boston [Charlottesville, Va.], 1988).
- The Correspondence of Thomas Hutchinson, John W. Tyler, and Elizabeth Dubrulle, (Boston, 2014-). The correspondence of the last British Governor of Massachusetts.
- The records of Trinity Church, Boston, 1728-1830 / edited by Andrew Oliver and James Bishop Peabody, 2 vols. (Boston: Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 1980-1982).
Other series and published collections of primary resources relating to the history of colonial Massachusetts - including collections of court papers, town corporation records, personal papers and memoirs of those involved in the Salem Witch trials, etc. – are found alongside the state archival series in the colonial section of the North American Room. Examples include:
- Records and files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, 9 vols. (Salem, Mass.: Essex Institute, 1911-).
- The seventeenth-century town records of Scituate, Massachusetts / Jeremy Dupertius Bangs, 3 vols. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, c1997-<c2001 >).
- The early records of Groton, Massachusetts: 1662-1707 / Ed. by Samuel A. Green, M. D. (Groton, 1880).
- The records of the First Church in Salem, Massachusetts, 1629-1736 / edited by Richard D. Pierce; introd. by Robert E. Moody (Salem, Mass.: Essex Institute, 1974).
- The Salem witchcraft papers: verbatim transcripts of the legal documents of the Salem witchcraft outbreak of 1692 / compiled and transcribed in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration under the supervision of Archie N. Frost; edited and with an introduction and index by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, 3 vols. (New York, 1977).
Puritan papers: memoirs and letters written by 17th-century New England puritans:
- Shepard, Thomas, God's plot: the paradoxes of Puritan piety; being The autobiography & journal of Thomas Shepard / Edited with an introd. by Michael McGiffert. ([Amherst]: University of Massachusetts Press, 1972).
- Puritan personal writings: autobiographies and other writings (New York: AMS Press, [n.d.]).
- The Winthrop Papers, 6 vols. (Boston, 1863-1892).
Most of the IHR’s resources for early New Jersey relate to the governance of the colony. These resources include:
- New Jersey archives: Third series (Trenton, NJ). Like other US state archival series listed in te IHR Library catalogue, individual volumes can be found by conducting a title or keyword search for individual items. In this instance the terms ‘New Jersey Archives’ and ‘Colonial New Jersey’ will bring up a list of relevant resources. Often, individual volumes within the series are listed under the title assigned to them in according to the material they contain (Minutes of the Governor's Privy Council, 1777-1789, for example, is the first volume in the third series).
New York and New Netherland
The colonial New York collections in the IHR are organized around the Historical Collections of New York series, constituting nearly 100 volumes. This series contains resources dealing with the government of the colony of New York following the conquest of New Amsterdam, the development of the colonial economy, religion, among other topics. A unified catalogue entry exists for the first 15 volumes of the series (found below). Subsequent volumes are catalogued individually and can be found by typing ‘New York Historical Collections’ in a title search on the IHR Library online catalogue.
- Collections of the New York Historical Society (New York: New York Historical Society, 1809-1857).
New Netherland, 1609-1674: the Americas Room holds numerous resources on the topic of Dutch imperialism/colonialism in North America prior to the English conquest of New Netherland in 1674. These include:
- The records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674 anno Domini / ed. by Berthold Fernow, 7 vols. New York, 1897).
- The register of Salomon Lachaire, notary public of New Amsterdam, 1661-1662 / translated from the original Dutch manuscript in the office of the Clerk of the Common Council of New York by E.B. O'Callaghan, et al.; with an introduction by Kenneth Scott (Baltimore, 1978).
- The prehistory of the New Netherland Company: Amsterdam notarial records of the first Dutch voyages to the Hudson / by Simon Hart ([Amsterdam]: City of Amsterdam Press, 1959).
- The Lutheran Church in New York, 1649-1772: records in the Lutheran Church archives at Amsterdam, Holland / Tr. by Arnold J. H. [i.e. F.] van Laer (New York, 1946).
The first nine series of the Pennsylvania Archives collection is the core of the Library’s Pennsylvania materials. These series together constitute over 100 volumes of published sources housed in the various state archives of Pennsylvania and published on order of the State Assembly from the mid-nineteenth century. Material contained within the collections includes land deeds, colonial correspondence, items relating to Native American diplomacy, assembly minutes, etc. The series are an invaluable resource to students of the Mid-Atlantic region in the colonial and revolutionary periods. The first series is listed as single catalogue entry on the IHR library online catalogue. Most other volumes are listed individually and can be found by typing ‘Pennsylvania Archives’ in a title search on the Library website.
- Pennsylvania archives: [1st ser.]: selected and arranged from original documents in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, conformably to acts of the General Assembly, February 15, 1851, and March 1, 1852 / by Samuel Hazard, 12 vols. (Philadelphia, 1852-1856).
Other Pennsylvania materials in the library include:
- The Susquehannah Company papers / [Vols. 1-4] Edited by Julian P. Boyd: [vols.5-11] edited by Robert J. Taylor (Ithaca, N.Y : Published [by] Cornell University Press for Wyoming Historical & Geological Society, Wilkes-Barre, Pa, [1962-1971]). The colonies of Connecticut and Pennsylvania both laid claim to the Wyoming Valley from the late 17th century. These rival claims led to a series of open conflicts between different groups of white settlers in the 1770s. The Susquehannah Company Papers is a collection of documents relating to the Connecticut claim.
- The papers of William Penn / editors, Mary Maples Dunn, Richard S. Dunn ; associate editors, Richard A. Ryerson, Scott M. Wilds ; assistant editor, Jean R. Soderlund 5 vols. ([Philadelphia, Pa.], 1981-1987). Personal and official correspondence of William Penn (1644-1718), the founder and first proprietor of the colony of Pennsylvania.
The largest collection of material relating to colonial, revolutionary, and early national North Carolina is the Colonial Records of North Carolina series. It includes 26 volumes of resources originally published by the state archives in the 1880s and 90s. It includes a wealth of material ranging from legislative records and court and church documents to ego sources including personal letters.
- The colonial records of North Carolina / published under the supervision of the Trustees of the public libraries, by order of the General assembly; collected and edited by William L. Saunders, Secretary of State (Raleigh, 1886-90).
The North Carolina Historical Commission published several records series containing sources relevant to the study of colonial and revolutionary North Carolina. These include the records of the Moravian Church, the first 6 vols. of which include records from the 18th century. The Commission also published the historical record of North Carolina series, which includes various sources (court records, deeds and legislative record, etc.).
- The historical records of North Carolina / Prepared by the Historical Records Survey of the Works Progress Administration. Edited by Charles Christopher Crittenden and Dan Lacy, with a preface by Luther H. Evans, 3 vols. (Raleigh: The North Carolina Historical Commission, 1938-39).
- Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, 11 vols. (Raleigh, 1922-1969).
The Regulator Movement (1766-1771) pitted backcountry debtors and recent immigrants against coastal creditors and elites over issues of representation and property ownership. The Regulator rebellion, and its brutal suppression, occurred during the Imperial Crisis between Great Britain and the colonies. It is sometimes studied within the context of the coming of the American Revolution. The IHR holds the published personal papers of the Governor during the troubles, William Tryon (1729-1788).
- The correspondence of William Tryon and other selected papers / edited by William S. Powell, 2 vols. (Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, Dept. of Cultural Resources, 1980-1981).
- The regulators in North Carolina: a documentary history, 1759-1776 / Compiled and edited by William S. Powell, James K. Huhta [and] Thomas J. Farnham (Raleigh [N.C.], 1971).
Other volumes of sources for colonial North Carolina include:
- The colonial clergy of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina / by Frederick Lewis Weis (Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1976, c1955).
- Ye Countie of Albemarle in Carolina: a collection of documents, 1664-1675 / edited by William S. Powell (Raleigh: State Dept. of Archives and History, 1958).
- The journal of the House of Burgesses of the Province of North-Carolina, 1749 / Reproduced in facsimile in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the printing press in North Carolina; with an introd. by William S. Powell (Raleigh, 1949).
The Historical Commission of South Carolina published a series of documents held in state archives. The series focuses on government publications, notably the Journal of the Commons House of Assembly. Also includes papers relating to Indian negotiations throughout the period.
- The journal of the Commons House of Assembly / edited by J. H. Easterby, 14 vols. (Columbia: Historical Commission of South Carolina, 1951-<c1989>)
- Journals of the Commissioners of the Indian Trade: September 20, 1710-August 29, 1718 / edited by W.L. McDowell (Columbia: South Carolina Archives Dept., 1955).
Other volumes include sources not included in the Colonial Records series.
- Commissions and instructions from the lords proprietors of Carolina to public officials of South Carolina: 1685-1715 / Ed. by A. S. Salley, Jr., Secretary of the Historical Commission of South Carolina (Columbia, S. C.: Printed for the Historical Commission of South Carolina by the State Co., 1916).
- Selling a New World: two Colonial South Carolina promotional pamphlets / by Thomas Nairne and John Norris; edited with an introduction by Jack P. Greene (Columbia, S.C., c1989).
- The Carolina chronicle of Dr. Francis Le Jau, 1706-1717 / edited, with an introduction and notes, by Frank J. Klingberg (Millwood, N.Y, 1980).
The Virginia State Library edited several series of colonial government records for publication, including the minutes and papers of the executive and legislative councils. The IHR library holds several versions of these records:
- Legislative journals of the Council of colonial Virginia / ed. by H. R. McIlwaine, 3 vols. (Richmond, Va, 1918-19).
- Journals of the Council of the state of Virginia, 5 vols. (Richmond, 1931-1982).
- Executive journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia (Richmond, 1925-).
- Official letters of the governors of the State of Virginia / H. R. McIlwaine, General Editor (Richmond, 1926-1929). Includes letters written by Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Harrison in their official capacity as Governor of Virginia.
- The papers of Sir William Berkeley, 1605-1677 / edited by Warren M. Billings with the assistance of Maria Kimberly (Richmond, VA, c2007). Sir William Berkeley was governor during Bacon’s Rising in the 1670s.
- Journals of the House of burgesses of Virginia, 1619-, 13 vols. (Richmond, Va, 1905-15.
- The statutes at large: being a collection of all the laws of Virginia, from the first session of the Legislature in the year 1619 / By William Waller Hening, 13 vols. [Charlottesville, 1969]
Virginia before the arrival of the English:
- The Spanish Jesuit Mission in Virginia, 1570-1572 / by Clifford M. Lewis and Albert J. Loomie (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1953).
- William Fitzhugh and his Chesapeake world, 1676-1701: the Fitzhugh letters and other documents / edited with an introduction by Richard Beale Davis (Chapel Hill, 1963).
American Historical Association American Legal Records
The American Historical Association’s American Legal Records series contains records relating to the jurisprudence and the practical application of the law in the British North American Colonies. Each volume of the series is devoted to a different state/colony and contains a range of material relating to different courts (vice admiralty, mayoral, criminal, etc.) as well as diaries of prominent figures (Connecticut congressman and member of the colony’s Supreme Court, William Samuel Johnson, 1727-1819).
Volumes held in the IHR:
- American Legal Records, v. 1, Proceedings of the Maryland Court of Appeals: 1695-1729, edited by Carroll T. Bond; with the collaboration of Richard B. Morris (Washington, D.C.: AHA, 1933).
- American Legal Records, v. 2, Select cases of the Mayor's Court of New York City: 1674-1784, edited by Richard B. Morris (Washington, D.C.: AHA, 1935).
- American Legal Records, v.3, Records of the Vice-Admiralty Court of Rhode Island, 1716-1752, edited by Dorothy S. Towle; with an introduction by Charles M. Andrews (Washington D.C.: AHA, 1936).
- American Legal Records, v.4, The Superior Court diary of William Samuel Johnson, 1772-1773: with appropriate records and file papers of the Superior Court of the Colony of Connecticut for the terms, December 1772, through March 1773, edited by John T. Farrell; foreword by Charles E. Clark (Washington D.C.: AHA, 1942).
- American Legal Records, v.5, The Burlington court book: a record of Quaker jurisprudence in west New Jersey, 1680-1709, edited by H. Clay Reed and George J. Miller (Washington D.C.: AHA, 1944).
- American Legal Records, v.6, Records of the Court of Chancery of South Carolina, 1671-1779, edited by Anne King Gregorie; with an introduction by J. Nelson Frierson (Washington D.C.: AHA, 1950).
- American Legal Records, v.7, County court records of Accomack-Northampton, Virginia, 1632-1640, edited by Susie M. Ames; with a prefatory note by Francis S. Philbrick (Washington D.C.: AHA, 1954).
- American Legal Records, v.8, Court records of Kent County, Delaware, 1680-1705, edited by Leon de Valinger, Jr; with a prefatory note by John Biggs, Jr. (Washington D.C.: AHA, 1959).
- American Legal Records, v.9, Court records of Prince Georges County, Maryland, 1696-1699, edited by Joseph H. Smith and Philip A. Crowl (Washington D.C.: AHA, 1964).
- American Legal Records, v.10, Criminal proceedings in colonial Virginia: (Records of) fines, examination of criminals, trials of slaves, etc. from March 1710 (1711) to (1754), (Richmond County, Virginia), edited, with an introduction, by Peter Charles Hoffer; edited and transcribed by William B. Scott (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1984).
The American Revolution, 1763-1783
American Pamphlets of the Revolution
In 1965 prominent historian of the American Revolution, Bernard Bailyn, edited a collection of pamphlets published in the American Colonies during the first stages of the Imperial Crisis (1764-1776). Many of these pamphlets deal with issues of American sovereignty during the Stamp Act Crisis (1764-1765). Bailyn’s work on the volume led him to write an influential work on political ideology in the years leading to the revolution, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge, Mass., 1967).
- Pamphlets of the American Revolution, 1750-1776 / edited by Bernard Bailyn, with the assistance of Jane N. Garrett. (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1965-).
- The American colonial crisis: the Daniel Leonard-John Adams letters to the press, 1774-1775 / Edited by Bernard Mason (New York : Harper & Row, ).
Correspondence of figures including Samuel Adams (1722-1803), prominent patriot agitator in Massachusetts in the 1760s and 1770s as well as a founder of the Patriot activist group, the Sons of Liberty; Robert Morris (1734-1806) signer of the Declaration of Independence and financier of the American Revolution; politician, Patrick Henry (1736-1799), famous for his declaration of ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ on the floor of the Virginian House of Burgesses; and Benjamin Rush (1746-1813), Philadelphia physician and patriot. See also the papers of leading patriots who would later rise to prominence in the early republic, including those of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington.
- Patrick Henry; life, correspondence and speeches / by William Wirt Henry, 3 vols. (New York, 1891).
- Adams, Samuel, The writings of Samuel Adams / collected and ed. by Harry Alonzo Cushing, 4 vols. (New York, 1904-08).
- Morris, Robert, The papers of Robert Morris, 1781-1784 / E. James Ferguson, editor [and others], 9 vols. (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1973-1999).
- Rush, Benjamin, The autobiography of Benjamin Rush: his Travels through life together with his Commonplace book for 1789-1813 / Edited with introd. and notes by George W. Corner (Westport, Conn., [1970, c1948]); Letters of Benjamin Rush / ed. by L. H. Butterfield, 2 vols. (Philadelphia, 1951).
Washington and the Continental Army
The IHR holds an impressive array of resources, including orderly books and correspondence, relating to the leadership of the Continental Army. Many of these resources relate to the central command of George Washington. Other figures represented in our collections include, Nathanael Greene (1742-1786), the ‘Swamp Fox’ who led the army during the campaign in the Carolinas and Benedict Arnold (1740-1801). Arnold’s capture of Fort Ticonderoga (1775) and his performance during the Battle of Saratoga (1777) made him a hero of the revolution. Believing that his accomplishments were overlooked by his superiors, Arnold became disaffected with his position and the direction of the revolution following the French alliance. He therefore decided to defect to the British and surrender to the American garrison at West Point to British forces. The plot was discovered and Arnold escaped to lead British forces in the south.
- Orderly book of General George Washington: commander in chief of the American armies, kept at Valley Forge, 18 May-11 June, 1778 (Boston [etc.]; and London: Lamson, Wolffe and co., 1898).
- The George Washington atlas: a collection of eighty-five maps including twenty-eight made by George Washington, seven used and annotated by him, eight made at his direction, or for his use or otherwise associated with him, and forty-two new maps concerning his activities in peace and war and his place in history / edited by Lawrence Martin (Washington, D.C.: United States George Washington Bicentennial Commission, 1932).
- Aids and secretaries to Gen. George Washington, commander in chief of the Continental army: From originals in the Division of manuscripts (Washington: Govt. Print. Off., 1906).
- Greene, Nathanael, The papers of General Nathanael Greene / Richard K. Showman, Dennis M. Conrad; ed., Margaret Cobb, et al., 13 vols. (Chapel Hill, c1976-<c2002 >).
- Lea, Russell M., A hero and a spy: the Revolutionary War correspondence of Benedict Arnold / Russell M. Lea (Westminster, Md.: Heritage Books, 2006).
Creation of the US Navy
The core collection of materials relating to the US Navy in the American Revolution is the eleven volume series, The Naval documents of the American Revolution. It contains correspondence, journals and other information relative to the various theatres of operation during the War of American Independence. Including American activities in European waters. Many of the resources dealing with the subject can be found in the Military History collection in the basement of the IHR. Other resources include:
- A detail of some particular services performed in America: during the years 1776, 1777, 1778, and 1779 (New York, 1835).
- Kaminkow, Marion, Mariners of the American Revolution (Baltimore: Magna Carta Book Company, 1967).
American Accounts of the Revolution
The IHR holds dozens of testimonials from men and women who witnessed the events of the revolution first hand. Many of these are soldier diaries held in the military history section of the library. Others are civilian accounts from the period. Below is selection of a much larger list of resources:
- Jones, John Paul, John Paul Jones' Memoir of the American Revolution presented to King Louis XVI of France, translated and edited by Gerard W. Gawalt; introd. by John R. Sellers (Washington, 1979).
- Ashley, Elihu, Romance, remedies, and revolution: the journal of Dr. Elihu Ashley of Deerfield, Massachusetts, 1773-1775 / edited by Amelia F. Miller and A.R. Riggs. Amherst, 2007).
- Orderly book and journals kept by Connecticut men while taking part in the American Revolution. 1775-1778 (Hartford, 1899).
- Callender Sansom, Hannah, The diary of Hannah Callender Sansom: sense and sensibility in the age of the American Revolution / edited by Susan E. Klepp and Karin Wulf (N.Y.; London: Cornell University Press, 2010).
- Marshall, Christopher, Extracts from the diary of Christopher Marshall: kept in Philadelphia and Lancaster, during the American Revolution, 1774-1781 / edited by William Duane (Albany: Joel Munsell, 1877).
- Pierce's register: register of the certificates issued by John Pierce, Esquire, Paymaster General and Commissioner of Army Accounts for the United States, to officers and soldiers of the Continental Army under act of July 4, 1783. (Baltimore, 1973).
The IHR holds the 8-volume British Pamphlets on the American Revolution series as a result of generous donation from Professor Peter Marshall. This set, and the introductions and footnotes contained within it, is a comprehensive resource for students attempting to understand the British debate over nature of the revolution and the British Empire in the second half of the eighteenth century. It is also a wonderful counterpart to Bailyn’s Pamphlets of the American Revolution.
- British pamphlets on the American Revolution, 1763-1785 / edited by Harry T. Dickinson, 8 vols. (London, 2007-2008).
British Government and Military Officer Correspondence
The accounts of British officers tasked with subduing the rebellion in the colonies can be found in several IHR collections, including our imperial and military history sections. Key generals and admirals represented in IHR holdings include the Marquis Cornwallis (1738-1805), Lord Admiral John Mantagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792) )and Thomas Gage (1721-1787).
- Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis, Correspondence of Charles, first Marquis Cornwallis / Ed. with notes, by Charles Ross., 3 vols. (London: J. Murray, 1859); The Cornwallis papers: abstracts of Americana / Compiled by George H. Reese (Charlottesville, ).
- Gage, Thomas, The correspondence of General Thomas Gage / Compiled and edited by Clarence Edwin Carter (Hamden, Conn., Archon Books, 1969-).
- Leading officers in the southern campaign, including the infamous British cavalry officer Banastre Tarleton (1754-1833), are included alongside testimony from loyalists and patriot participants in Voices of the American Revolution in the Carolinas / edited by Ed Southern (Winston-Salem, N.C., 2009).
- Sandwich, John Montagu, 4th Earl of, The private papers of John, Earl of Sandwich: First Lord of the Admiralty, 1771-1782 / Edited by G. R. Barnes and J. H. Owen ([London]: Navy Records Society, 1932-1938).
The library also holds numerous volumes of correspondence conducted between British political leaders during the imperial crisis and the subsequent American rebellion. Important published volumes include the correspondence between George III (1738-1820) and Prime Minister North (1732-1792) and the letters of Charles James Fox (1749-1806), a leader of the parliamentary opposition in the 1770s and the 1780s.
- George III, King of Great Britain, The correspondence of King George the Third with Lord North from 1768 to 1783 / edited from the originals at Windsor, with an introduction and notes, by W. Bodham Donne, (London: John Murray, 1867).
- Fox, Charles James, Memorials and correspondence of Charles James Fox / edited by Lord John Russell (London: Richard Bentley, 1853-57).
- Burke, Edmund, The correspondence of Edmund Burke. Vols. 1-10 / edited by Thomas W. Copeland and others (Cambridge, 1958-1978). The correspondence for the 1760s and 1770s is particularly relevant as some of his letters deal with the troubles in America.
British Soldier Correspondence and Diaries
This collection includes diaries and correspondence from British military personnel who served in America between 1774 and 1783. It includes several translated diaries of German troops sent to America in the 1770s to quell the colonial rebellion. Many of these diaries can be found in the military history section of the library.
- A British soldier's story: Roger Lamb's narrative of the American Revolution, edited and annotated by Hagist (Baraboo, WI, 2004).
- The lost war: letters from British officers during the American Revolution / edited and annotated by Marion Balderston and David Syrett; introduction by Henry Steele Commager (New York, 1975).
- Peebles, John, John Peebles' American war: the diary of a Scottish grenadier, 1776-1782 / edited by Ira D. Gruber (Stroud, 1997).
- Digby, William, The British invasion from the north: The campaigns of Generals Carleton and Burgoyne, from Canada, 1776-1777, with the journal of Lieut. William Digby, of the 53d, or Shropshire regiment of foot / Illustrated historical notes by James Phinney Baxter, A.M., (Albany, N.Y., 1887).
Hessian/German Soldier Diaries and Accounts
- A Hessian diary of the American Revolution / by Johann Conrad Döhla; translated, edited, and with an introduction by Bruce E. Burgoyne from the 1913 Bayreuth edition by W. Baron von Waldenfels (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, c1990).
- Pausch, Georg, Journal of Captain Pausch, chief of the Hanau Artillery during the Burgoyne Campaign / Tr. and annotated by William L. Stone. Introduction by Edward J. Lowell (Albany, N.Y., 1886).
North American Loyalists
The IHR holds a wide-ranging selection of material relating to those American men and women who remained loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolution. Items in the collection include loyalist refugee testimonials, diaries and letter collections. Taken together, this material is one of the strongest aspects of the Library’s collections relating to the history of the Revolution. In the following sections are examples of resources held in the IHR collections relating to the history of North American loyalism.
African American Loyalism
Thousands of enslaved African Americans fled to British lines in the hope that they would obtain their freedom by declaring their loyalty to the Crown. Some of these men, women and children eventually made it to Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone.
- The Black loyalist directory: African Americans in exile after the American Revolution, edited with an introduction by Graham Russell Hodges […] (New York, 1996).
- The journal of Alexander Chesney: a South Carolina loyalist in the revolution and after, E. Alfred Jones, ed., ([Columbus]: The Ohio State University, ).
- The journal of Samuel Curwen, loyalist, Andrew Oliver, ed., 2 vols (Cambridge, Mass.: 1972).
- Loyalist narratives from Upper Canada, James J. Talman, ed. (Toronto, 1946).
- Smith, William, The diary and selected papers of Chief Justice William Smith, 1784-1793, 2 vols., Edited by L. F. S. Upton (Toronto, 1963).
- Letters of James Murray, loyalist, ed. Nina Moore Tiffany, assisted by Susan I. Lesley (Boston: [not published] 1901).
- Hulton, Ann, Letters of a loyalist lady: being the letters of Anne Hulton, sister of Henry Hulton, Commissioner of customs at Boston, 1767-1776, (Cambridge, Mass.: 1927).
Loyalist Compensation Claims
Following the Treaty of Paris in 1783 and the end of the War of American Independence, Parliament established a commission to oversee the claims of lost property and damages suffered by loyalist refugees in consequence of their loyalty to the Crown. In 1788 Parliament sent a commission to Halifax Nova Scotia to oversee the compensation claims of Loyalist refugees. They collected hundreds of testimonials which were then processed in London. These petitions, including evidence and references and information about financial losses, shed light on the often difficult choices faced by loyalists during the revolution. It can be found on the shelf under the title Ontario Bureau of Archives Report 1904:
- United empire loyalists: enquiry into the losses and services in consequence of their loyalty. Evidence in the Canadian claims, (Toronto, L.K. Cameron, 1905).
Also available, edited collections of Loyalist testimonials delivered before the London Loyalist Claims Commission of 1782-1783:
- The loyalists of Massachusetts: their memorials, petitions and claims, by E. Alfred Jones ... with 63 portraits in photogravure (London, 1930).
- American loyalist claims/ abstracted from the Public Record Office, Audit Office series 13, bundles [1-35 & 37], by Peter Wilson Coldham; [editor, Sally Lou (Mick) Haigh] (Washington, D.C., 1980-).
Memorials, Lists and Newspapers
Also included in the collection are property lists detailing the fate of loyalists after the revolution as well as some works on the culture of loyalism during the war.
- Loyalist lists: over 2000 loyalists names and families from the Haldimand papers, transcribed by E. Keith Fitzgerald (Toronto, 2000).
- Loyalist military settlers of Upper Canada: registered warrants and fiats, vol. 3, by Barbaranne Wright (st. Catherines, Ont., 2003).
- Rivington's New York newspaper: excerpts from a loyalist press, 1773-1783, compiled by Kenneth Scott (New York, 1973).
Early American Immigration History
- Irish immigrants in the land of Canaan: letters and memoirs from colonial and revolutionary America, 1675-1815 / written and edited by Kerby A. Miller, Arnold Schrier, Bruce D. Boling and David N. Doyle (New York, 2003).
- Irish passenger lists, 1803-1806: lists of passengers sailing from Ireland to America : extracted from the Hardwicke papers / compiled under the editorial supervision of Brian Mitchell (Baltimore, 1995).
- Ulster migration to America: letters from three Irish families / [compiled by] Ronald A. Wells (New York, 1991).
- Directory of Scottish settlers in North America, 1625-1825 / by David Dobson (Baltimore, 1984-).
The nineteenth century saw the expansion and diversification of immigration to the United States. While previous generations of immigrants had largely arrived from Africa and Northwest Europe, immigrants arriving in the United States from the middle hailed from a broad range of countries – including Ireland, Poland, Italy, China and Japan. Arrivals from the latter two countries often faced particular hardships and discrimination (often enshrined in law) in their adopted home.
The library holds several compilations of immigrant letters and diaries from the period:
- Immigrant voices: new lives in America, 1773-1986 / edited by Thomas Dublin (Urbana, 1993).
- Passages to America: oral histories of child immigrants from Ellis Island and Angel Island / Emmy E. Werner (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2009).
East Asian Immigration to the United States
US merchants and seaman expanded trade with China shortly after the end of the War of American Independence. This trade, mostly with New England, led to a small number of Chinese immigrants in cities across the northeast. The numbers of Chinese immigrants arriving annually expanded dramatically in the late 1840s and 1850s, exceeding 20,000 by 1850. The principal destination for migrants in this period was California and western territories and was largely the result of several factors including the economic boom brought about by the 1849 gold rush, and the need for labour for infrastructure projects. These migrants faced considerable hostility across the country as many white nativists spread paranoia about the ‘Yellow Peril’. Nativist activism culminated in the 1882 Chines Exclusion Act, banning Chinese migration for ten years. See:
- Chinese American voices: from the gold rush to the present / compiled and edited by Judy Yung, Gordon H. Chang, and Him Mark Lai (Berkeley, 2006).
- My future is in America: autobiographies of Eastern European Jewish immigrants / edited and translated by Jocelyn Cohen and Daniel Soyer (New York; London : New York University Press, 2006).
- Jewish immigrants of the Nazi period in the USA. Vol.1, Archival resources. Vol.4, Jewish emigration from Germany, 1933-42; pt.1 Programs and policies until 1937; pt.2 Restrictions on emigration and deportation to Eastern Europe. Vol.5, Interviews / Herbert A. Strauss, editor; compiled by Steven W. Siegel; edited by Norbert Kampe; compiled by Dennis Rohrbaugh (New York, 1978-1992).
The Early Republic and the Antebellum Period, 1783-1860
Durfee, Robert, Robert Durfee's journal and recollections of Newport, Rhode Island, Freetown, Massachusetts, New York City & Long Island, Jamaica & Cuba, West Indies & Saint Simons Island, Georgia, ca. 1785-1810 / edited by Virginia Steele Wood ; prepared for the Saint Simons Island Public Library, Saint Simons Island, Georgia, (Marion, MA: Belden Books, 1990).
Papers of Prominent Politicians
- Clay, Henry, The Papers of Henry Clay. Vols. 1-10 and Supplement / J.F. Hopkins and others, editors (Lexington, Ky., 1959-1992).
- Calhoun, John C., The papers of John C. Calhoun
- Webster, Daniel, The papers of Daniel Webster
- Jackson, Andrew, The papers of Andrew Jackson
The Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1803-1806
In 1803, Thomas Jefferson accepted Napoleon Bonaparte’s offer for the purchase of the remaining territory claimed by France in the North American interior. Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to head the Corps of Discovery Expedition to the Pacific Ocean in order to survey the land and to record their impressions of the natural resources and the Native peoples they encountered. Sources on the expedition available in the North American Room include:
- The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition / Gary E. Moulton, editor, 13 vols. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, c1983-<c2001 >).
- Exploring with Lewis and Clark: the 1804 journal of Charles Floyd / edited and with an introduction by James J. Holmberg ; foreword by Gary E. Moulton (Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, c2004).
- Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, with related documents, 1783-1854 / edited by Donald Jackson, 2 vols. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, c1978).
- Atlas of Lewis and Clark in Missouri / James D. Harlan and James M. Denny (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003).
The Texas Revolt/Revolution and the Republic of Texas, 1835-1845
Following the Mexican War of Independence, the Mexican government enacted new immigration legislation to encourage migration into, and the economic development of, the northern Gulf provinces. By the 1830s, Anglo English speakers outnumbered the established Tejano population and tensions over religion, political/state centralization and the expansion of slavery in the province led to a Anglo revolt and, ultimately, to the establishment of the independent Republic of Texas. Texans voted for US annexation on 4 July 1845, prompting the Mexican American War the following year. Resources on this topic include:
- The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835-1836 / John H. Jenkins, general editor, 10 vols. (Austin, 1973).
- With Santa Anna in Texas: a personal narrative of the revolution / José Enrique de la Peña; translated and edited by Carmen Perry; introduction by James E. Crisp (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, c1997).
- Almonte's Texas: Juan N. Almonte's 1834 inspection, secret report, and role in the 1836 campaign / edited by Jack Jackson; translated by John Wheat (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 2003).
The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877
The IHR boasts a large collection of civil war records largely pertaining to the military history of the period between 1861 and 1865. The core of the IHR’s Civil War history collection is the Papers of the War of Rebellion series (the official account of the war published by the federal government following the conflict). The collection takes up over 12½ meters of shelving space. Other items include the personal papers of Jefferson Davis (president of the Confederacy), Ulysses S. Grant, and other leading figures during the war. In total this material takes up over 31½ meters of space.
See also Union pamphlets of the Civil War, 1861-1865 / Edited by Frank Freidel, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1967)
Diaries and Correspondence
The Civil War collections in the North American Room and the Military History Room in the basement house dozens of volumes of correspondence and dairies from soldiers and officers on both sides of the conflict. Here is a selection of sources:
- Dyer, Jonah Franklin, The journal of a Civil War surgeon / J. Franklin Dyer; edited by Michael B. Chesson (Lincoln, Neb., c2003).
- Dunkelman, Mark H., War's relentless hand: twelve tales of Civil War soldiers / Mark H. Dunkelman (Baton Rouge, c2006).
- Jones, William, Brothers 'til death: the Civil War letters of William, Thomas, and Maggie Jones, 1861-1865: Irish soldiers in the 48th New York volunteer regiment / edited by Richard M. Trimble (Macon, Ga., 2000).
- Voris, Alvin Coe, A citizen-soldier's Civil War: the letters of Brevet Major General Alvin C. Voris / edited by Jerome Mushkat (DeKalb, Ill., 2002).
- The Civil War in North Carolina: soldiers' and civilians' letters and diaries, 1861-1865 / edited by Christopher M. Watford. 2 vols. (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2002-2003).
- Freedom's soldiers: the Black military experience in the Civil War / edited by Ira Berlin, Joseph P. Reidy, Leslie S. Rowland (Cambridge, U.K., 1998).
The North American room also holds the personal papers of many of the generals who oversaw military operations throughout the conflict. Prominent Union generals include Ulysses S. Grant, general responsible for western and Virginia campaigns 18th president of the United States and William Tecumseh Sherman, the Federal general famous for his southern campaign in the closing stages of the war. The North American room also houses several collections of Robert E. Lee’s correspondence and papers. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia.
- Ulysses Simpson Grant: The papers of Ulysses S. Grant / edited by John Y. Simon, 32 vols (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, [1967- 2012]); Personal memoirs of U.S. Grant, 2 vols. (New York, 1885-86); Grant, Julia Dent, The personal memoirs of Julia Dent Grant (Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant) / edited, with notes and foreword by John Y. Simon (New York, 1975).
- William T. (Tecumseh) Sherman: Memoirs of General William T. Sherman / By himself, 2 vols. (New York, 1875); Sherman's civil war: selected correspondence of William T. Sherman, 1860-1865 / edited by Brooks D. Simpson and Jean V. Berlin (Chapel Hill, 1999); and The Sherman letters: correspondence between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891 / ed. by Rachel Sherman Thorndike (London, 1894).
- Robert E. (Edward) Lee: The wartime papers of R.E. Lee / Clifford Dowdey, editor; Louis H. Manarin, associate editor (Boston, ); and Personal reminiscences of General Robert E. Lee / J. William Jones ; foreword by Virginius Dabney; introduction by Taylor Sanders (Baton Rouge, c1994).
Papers of Political Figures
- Lincoln, Abraham, The collected works of Abraham Lincoln / Roy P. Basler, ed.; Marion Dolores Pratt and Lloyd A. Dunlap, assistant eds, 9 vols. (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953-1955). Other editions of Lincoln’s publications and correspondence are shelved alongside Basier’s project: The papers of Abraham Lincoln: legal documents and cases / Daniel W. Stowell, ed., 4 vols. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008-); Political debates between Hon. Abraham Lincoln and Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, in the celebrated campaign of 1858, in Illinois (Columbus: Follett, Foster and Company, 1860).
- Carwardine, Richard, Abraham Lincoln and the Fourth Estate: the White House and the press during the American Civil War / Richard Carwardine ([Reading]: University of Reading, 2004).
- Abraham Lincoln: His speeches and writings / edited by Roy P. Basler (Cleveland, Ohio: Da Capo Press, 2001).
The IHR also holds various volumes of resources relating to the leadership of the Confederacy, including the papers of the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis:
- Davis, Jefferson, The messages and papers of Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy, including diplomatic correspondence, 1861-1865 / Edited and compiled by James D. Richardson, 2 vols. (New York, 1966).
Resources on the reunification of the US and rebuilding of the south following the end of war are found in the North American room.
- The journal of the Joint Committee of Fifteen on Reconstruction: 39th Congress, 1865-1867/ by Benj. B. Kendrick (New York, 1914).
- The diary and correspondence of Henry Clay Warmoth, the governor of Louisiana after the war, shed light on the social and polical tensions that developed in the state after the war: War, politics, and Reconstruction: stormy days in Louisiana / Henry Clay Warmoth; new introduction by John C. Rodrigue (Columbia, S.C. : University of South Carolina Press, c2006).
American Government and Political Papers
The IHR houses an impressive collection of US constitutional and legal records, including record series for each branch of the Federal Government. The library also holds a great deal of material relating to the government of individual US states, including the records of state constitutional conventions and, where relevant, the records of pre-revolutionary colonial governments. Our resources are particularly strong in the early constitutional history of the United States (civil war).
Constitutional Convention and Early US Constitutional History
Documents relating to the development of the US Constitution for a central component of the IHR’s holdings in American political history. The library’s collection of items relating to the creation, ratification and adoption of the constitution between 1787 and 1791 are particularly strong.
- John R. vile, The Constitutional Convention of 1787: a comprehensive encyclopedia of America's founding, foreword by Jack N. Rakove, 2 vols., (Santa Barbara, 2005).
- The debates in the Federal Convention of 1787: which framed the Constitution of the United States of America, reported by James Madison (New York, 1920).
- The republic of letters: the correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, 1776-1826, James Morton Smith, ed., 3 vols., (New York, 1995).
See also the Albert Gallatin collection (below).
Federalists vs Antifederalists
The debates that raged in Philadelphia over the summer of 1787 over the structure and nature of the new Federal Constitution were followed by equally intense arguments in state legislatures over the document’s ratification. The ratification debate (1787-1789) pitted those who supported ratification, the Federalists, against those those who opposed it, the Antifederalists. Ultimately, the document that emerged from this process was nearly identical to that draft agreed upon in 1797 – with the notable exception of the first ten amendments (the Bill of Rights) which were added to abet Antifederalist fear of an overly powerful central government.
The largest and most wide-ranging published compilation of documents relating to the campaign to ratify the Constitution held by the IHR library is the twenty-six-volume The Documentary history of the ratification of the Constitution (Madison, 1976-). Each volume in the series covers the debates over ratification in an individual state and includes a range of primary sources including legislative debates, published pamphlets and letters. Other resources include:
- Jonathan Elliot, ed., The debates in the several state conventions on the adoption of the federal constitution, 5 vols., (Philadelphia, 1863).
- The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches Articles, and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification, 2 vols., (New York, 1993).
- Michael P. Zuckert and Derek A. Webb, eds., The anti-federalist writings of the Melancton Smith circle, (Indianapolis, 2009).
- E. H. Scott, ed., The Federalist and other contemporary papers on the constitution of the United States, (Chicago, ).
- Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison, The Federalist: the Gideon edition; edited with an introduction by George W. Carey and James McClellan (Indianapolis, 2001).
- Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison, The Federalist, with letters of 'Brutus' , edited by Terence Ball (Cambridge, 2003).
For documentary compilations and other documentary resources for American constitutionalism before the ratification of the Constitution see:
- Donald S. Lutz, ed., Colonial origins of the American Constitution: a documentary history (Indianapolis, 1998).
- Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States: with a preliminary review of the constitutional history of the colonies and states, before the adoption of the Constitution, 2 vols., (Boston, 1858).
- Paul Leicester Ford, ed., Essays on the Constitution of the United States: published during its discussion by the people, 1787-1788, (New York, 1892).
Federal Government Records
Records from the three branches (executive [the office of the President], the judiciary [The U.S. Supreme Court]; and the legislature [both houses of Congress]) of the US federal government from 1789 to 1800 are on open access in the IHR library. Federal series for the years following 1800 are available onsite upon request.
The IHR library collections hold over 130 volumes of sources detailing the formation of US state governments and the process through which new states were added to the union throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. These resources include the minutes of various states’ constitutional conventions, the constitutions themselves, correspondence concerning state constitutionalism and documentary compilations of papers relating to the development of state government. Students of US western expansion, as well as those interested in the recalibration of state sovereignty in the wake of the Civil War (1861-1865) will find these resources useful. The list below includes samples of state government resources in the IHR. It is by no means exhaustive. All items relating to state government are classified under the ‘US’ shelf mark, most of these resources are not on open access but are onsite and can be requested in the Library Office for same-day use.
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin
See also Index digest of state constitutions/ prepared for the New York State Constitutional Convention Commission, by the Legislative Drafting Research Fund of Columbia University, (Albany: New York State Constitutional Convention Commission, 1915).
The Gilded Age
We subscribe to numerous journals that focus on the history of the United States in the late 19th century, including The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive era.
- Garfield, James A. (James Abram), Politics and patronage in the gilded age: the correspondence of James A. Garfield and Charles E. Henry / Edited by James D. Norris and Arthur H. Shaffer (Madison, 1970).
For an urban women’s observation about the changes brought about by technological and economic changes in late 19th-century American society see:
- Blackwell, Alice Stone, Growing up in Boston's Gilded Age: the journal of Alice Stone Blackwell, 1872-1874 / edited by Marlene Deahl Merrill (New Haven, 1990).
Political history is a strength of the US collection as a whole but especially for this period. The sources range from Presidents' correspondence, memoirs and interviews, the writings of two former first-ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt and Hilary Clinton, and other prominent political figures from the century.
Highlights from the presidential sources include:
- Wilson, Woodrow, (ed.), The new democracy : presidential messages, addresses, and other papers (1913-1917)
- The public papers and addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Ferrell, Robert H., The Eisenhower Diaries
- Public papers of the Presidents of the United States, John F. Kennedy
- Public papers of the Presidents of the United States, Richard Nixon
- Brinkley, Douglas (ed.), The Reagan diaries
- Clinton, Bill, My life
Other political works:
- Rodham Clinton, Hillary, Hard choices
- The political principles of Senator Barry M. Goldwater as revealed in his speeches and writings : a source book
- The autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
- Black, Allida, (ed.), The Eleanor Roosevelt papers. Vol. 1, The human rights years, 1945-1948
- Sorensen, Theodore C., Counselor : a life at the edge of history
- Vandenberg Jr., Arthur H. and Morris, Joe Alex (ed.), The private papers of Senator Vandenberg
Foreign Relations and War
Much material will be found in the International Relations and Military collections, but examples within the United States collection include memoirs, writing from the home front, military documents and papers:
- Dembo, Jonathan (ed.), A life of duty : the autobiography of George Willcox McIver, 1858-1948
Barrett Litoff, Judy and Smith, David C. (ed.), Since you went away : World War II letters from American women on the home front
Cole, Alice C. [et al.], The Department of Defense: documents on establishment and organization, 1944-1978
Gates, Robert M., Duty : memoirs of a Secretary at war
The Great Depression
Material is scattered across the collection, but examples specifically on the Depression include:
- Hosen, Frederick E., The Great Depression and the New Deal: legislative acts in their entirety (1932-1933) and statistical economic data (1926-1946)
- Levine, Lawrence W. and Levine, Cornelia R., The fireside conversations: America responds to FDR during the Great Depression
- Namorato, Michael Vincent (ed.), The diary of Rexford G. Tugwell: the New Deal, 1932-1935
- Green, Elna C., Looking for the New Deal : Florida women's letters during the Great Depression
The Fight for Equality
The collection contains a variety of autobiographies, papers, letters and speeches relating to the fight for equal rights- women's suffrage and rights, Civil rights movement and LGBT rights. Examples include:
- Katz, Ester (ed.), The Selected papers of Margaret Sanger
- Sklar, Kathryn Kish and Wilson Palmer, Berverly (ed.), The selected letters of Florence Kelley, 1869-1931
- The concise history of woman suffrage
- Lee, Kimberli A. (ed.), "I do not apologize for the length of this letter": the Mari Sandoz letters on Native American rights, 1940-1965
- King, Martin Luther, The papers of Martin Luther King, Jr
- Lewis, Catherine M., Race, politics, and memory : a documentary history of the Little Rock school crisis
- Miller, Merle, On being different
- Mitchell, Clarence, The papers of Clarence Mitchell Jr
The collections include accounts of fights for improvement in workers' rights and a number of accounts of workers in different roles including coal miners, social security, manufacturers, farmers, and railroad and steelworkers. Further examples include:
- Chavez, Cesar, An organizer's tale : speeches
- Mitchell, H. L., Mean things happening in this land : the life and times of H. L. Mitchell, co-founder of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union
- Neugebauer, Janet M. (ed.), Plains farmer: the diary of William G. DeLoach
Private Correspondence and Accounts
- Gilman, Charlotte Perkins, The diaries of Charlotte Perkins Gilman
- Pauli Murray & Caroline Ware : forty years of letters in black and white
- Gould, Lewis L. (ed.), My dearest Nellie : the letters of William Howard Taft to Helen Herron Taft, 1909-1912
- Dear Harry, love Bess : Bess Truman's letters to Harry Truman, 1919-1943
- Potter, Angela (ed.), Shared histories Transatlantic letters between Virginia Dickinson Reynolds and her daughter, Virginia Potter, 1929-1966
- Miller, K. and McGinnis, R. H., A volume of friendship : the letters of Eleanor Roosevelt and Isabella Greenway, 1904-1953
We subscribe to all the main American History journals, for example: American Historical Review, Journal of American History and American Nineteenth Century History. For the majority we have the complete run from the first issues published. The most recent volumes up to the last 3-4 years are kept on open access in the Current Periodicals room, located in the IHR Common Room on the ground floor. The older volumes are held in the onsite store and can be fetched by the library staff within a few hours. Older runs are sometimes located in the offsite store and can be ordered within 1-2 working days.
Journals relevant for American History are located across collections. In the general Colonial collection you will find the full run from 1892 of William and Mary Quarterly, the main journal for early American history and culture. There is also some relevant material in the military and International relations holdings.
Albert Gallatin Collection
There are items in the US collections that once belonged to prominent early American statesman Albert Gallatin (1761-1849). These works came to the library as part of the Conway bequests of the 1920s and 30s and represent a selection of Gallatin’s – much larger – personal library. They provide us with an insight into the type of works owned by Gallatin how he organized his library.
A series of articles on the IHR blog give further information about this collection:
- Colonial History for the period up to Independence.
- International Relations, for example the Foreign Relations of the United States series
- Military History
- British History
- Latin American History
Contact us if you would like help on finding or using our collections, or if you have any comments or suggestions about the content of this guide. We are happy to help.
You can also book a tour or training session.
Further information on location of items
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