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Inventing Americans  

Last Updated: Feb 1, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Need help with your research?


Kelly Cannon
Humanities & Business Librarian
phone: x3602


    How do I obtain primary sources on the period in question?

    • American Memory Project
      The Library of Congress's American Memory Project includes numerous online collections from the colonial era. Unfortunately, the database emphasizes post-1763.
    • Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
      Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922.
    • Discovering American Women's History Online
      This database provides access to digital collections of primary sources (photos, letters, diaries, artifacts, etc.) that document the history of women in the United States.
    • Documenting the American South
      Documenting the American South (DocSouth) includes sixteen thematic collections of primary sources for the study of southern history, literature, and culture.
    • EEBO: Early English Books Online
      (available by library subscription)
      Contains digital facsimiles of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473-1700.
    • ECCO: Eighteenth-Century Collections Online
      (available by library subscription)
      Contains over 180,000 titles (200,000 volumes) comprising books, pamphlets, essays, broadsides and more based on the English Short Title Catalogue Works published in the UK during the 18th century plus thousands from elsewhere. Content covers critical information in the fields of history, literature, religion, law, fine arts, science and more. Primarily in English but also includes other languages.
    • Google Books
      Google Books is a rich source of full-text documents (books and other materials) published prior to 1923 that are now in the public domain.
    • HeinOnline Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture & Law
      This HeinOnline collection brings together, for the first time, all known legal materials on slavery in the United States and the English-speaking world. This includes every statute passed by every colony and state on slavery, every federal statute dealing with slavery, and all reported state and federal cases on slavery. Our cases go into the 20th century, because long after slavery was ended, there were still court cases based on issues emanating from slavery. The library has hundreds of pamphlets and books written about slavery—defending it, attacking it or simply analyzing it. We have gathered every English-language legal commentary on slavery published before 1920, which includes many essays and articles in obscure, hard-to-find journals in the United States and elsewhere. We have provided more than a thousand pamphlets and books on slavery from the 19th century. We have also included many modern histories of slavery.
    • New York Times Archive 1857-1922 via Proquest
    • (Pennsylvania Collection)
      The Library Edition database provides searchable access to digital images of historical newspapers. Every part of every page is searchable, including local articles, advertisements, editorials, classified ads, and obituaries. Trexler Library has access to Pennsylvania Collection which includes full or partial runs of 276 local newspapers published in Pennsylvania from 1769-2013.
    • Pennsylvania Gazette
      (library subscription)
      Has been nicknamed "The New York Times of the 18th century," and covers a broad range of topics in the period 1728-1800.
    • Social and Cultural History: Letters and Diaries Online
      A database of thousands of private writings, personal narratives, interviews and more of people from diverse ethnic and social groups from 1550 to the present.

    What databases are available where I can search on a topic to find relevant secondary sources, whose footnotes and bibiography can lead to primary documents?

    • America: History & Life with Full Text
      A subscription database. Standard index for American history. Some full text. Also links to full text in other databases.
    • Encompass Search
      Encompass Search searches for books and other resources, first in our own library, and then beyond, in other research libraries.
    • Google Books
      When used on campus, Google Books will sync with local library holdings and interlibrary loan. From an item record, choose "Find in a Library," then "Request Item" (interlibrary loan) if the item is not available in our College library.
    • Google Scholar
      Free search engine for books and journal articles in all disciplines.Links may take you to free full text, or search the library's site for full text access.
    • JSTOR
      A substantive archive of more than 300 scholarly history journals, all full text. As an archive, there is typically a lag time of 3-5 years from publication until new issues appear in JSTOR. Full text journals include American Historical Review, Journal of American History, Journal of American Studies, Review in American History, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Cultural Critique, Eighteenth Century Studies, Environmental History, Historical Journal, and History and Theory.

    Additional resources

    • Advanced Google
      Allows limit by domain, such as .edu.
    • Wikipedia
      Bibliography can point to archival sites and other sources of primary research.

    How about citing source?

    For tips on citing print and electronic sources in the Chicago style, visit Trexler Library's Citation Guides for Print and Electronic Resources. For a more complete guide to the Chicago style, visit Purdue University's Online Writing Lab.

    For automated citation, try the shareware Zotero. Here is a user guide.


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