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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University Washington and Lee University The University Library

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Reference Resources: Primary Sources -- U.s. History

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Newspapers, Historical

Collection of resources, including online databases and microforms, available to Washington and Lee University researchers.
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AP Images

This database is used primarily for finding photographs from the Associated Press, but other information formats (audio, text, etc.) are accessible via the "More Media" options, near the top of the screen. The photography archive includes over 6 million photographs from the U.S. and elsewhere, all available moments after they move on the AP's spot photo system.
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Abortion: A Documentary And Reference Guide

This 2008 work "explores the evolution of America's abortion debate in a balanced selection of over 40 primary documents by doctors, feminists, religious leaders, politicians, extremists, and judges from the 19th century to the present day." Each document is followed by a brief analysis.
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Accessible Archives

A collection of American newspapers, magazines, and other primary source materials, mostly from the 19th century, but with some 18th century items. Newspapers and magazines nclude the Virginia Gazette, Pennsylvania Gazette, The Liberator, Godey's Lady's Book, and a selection of African American newspapers. Books include a large collection of county histories, Civil War memoirs and regimental histories, and more.
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Adams Papers (Digital Edition)

Self-described as the "definitive record of the nationís first great political family." Comprises John Adamsís complete diaries, selected legal papers, and the ongoing series of family correspondence and state papers -- all 30 volumes of the Adams Papers that have so far appeared in print. (Future volumes will appear in installments.)
As the database continues to develop, newly-available materials may first appear in a separate location.
The library also has printed volumes.
Acquisition of this resource was made possible by a generous gift from the Friends of the Library of Washington and Lee University.
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America's Founding Charters: Primary Documents Of Colonial And Revolutionary Era Governance (Volume 1)

This is the first volume of a three-volume set (2006) which contains about 260 documents on the "origins, developments and growth, and defenses of colonial governance," including royal charters, sermons that question or bolster the established order, pamphlets, state constitutions, and debates over the make-up of the Continental Congress and Articles of Confederation. Documents are accompanied by commentaries.
Here are links to Volume 2 and Volume 3.
You can view the table of contents for all three volumes here.
Purchase was made possible by the Lois Ferguson and Fred Carrington Cole Endowment.
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American Constitution -- A Documentary Record

The Avalon Project provides copies of documents critical to Constitutional development in the U.S.
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American Journeys

Over 150 rare books, original manuscripts, and classic travel narratives.
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American Memory

Digital copies of over 7 million items from the Library of Congress's National Digital Library.
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American Periodicals Series

Covering about 1,500 periodicals, this database contains "digitized images of the pages of American magazines and journals published from Colonial days to the dawn of the 20th century" (1740-1940), including selected years of such popular titles as Vanity Fair, Ladies' Home Journal, The Dial, McClure's, African Repository, and the Southern Planter.
This resource was purchased with funds from the Irving B. (Buck) Bricken Library Endowment Fund.
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American Social History Online

"Provides access to distributed digital library collections pertaining to 19th- and 20th-century U.S. social history. The 175 collections represent such institutions as the Library of Congress, Harvard University, and the California Digital Library and contain 514,708 photographs and cultural materials, books and pamphlets, journal articles, maps, short music videos, data sets, political cartoons and posters, and oral histories."
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Ancestry Library Edition

The 1940 U.S. Census records are coming to Ancestry, beginning in April 2012. More information.
Contains billions of records in census data, vital records, directories, photos, and more from North America, the U.K., Europe, Australia, and more. U.S. collections include hundreds of millions of names from: Federal Decennial censuses; birth, death, and marriage records including the Social Security Death Index; and U.S. border crossing and trans-ocean ship records.
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Bibliography Of Virginia

Google Books scan of Earl Swem's famous 1917 listing of all Virginia state "official publications" from 1776 to 1916. Does not contain links to documents. The library also has a printed copy.
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Civil Rights Digital Library

Primary sources and other educational materials on the "struggle for racial equality in the 1950's and 1960's" in the U.S. Includes: a video archive of news footage; access to resources from over 75 universities, museums, archives, and other institutions; collections of instructional materials.
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Civil War In America From The Illustrated London News

Digitized collection of about 1,700 articles from the weekly Illustrated London News containing coverage relating to the United States, especially the American Civil War, in issues dating from January 1861 to December 1865.
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Colonial Origins Of The American Constitution

"A collection of eighty documents which demonstrate how local government in colonial America was the seedbed of American constitutionalism."
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Colonial Origins Of The American Constitution: A Documentary History

"A collection of eighty documents which demonstrate how local government in colonial America was the seedbed of American constitutionalism."
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Discovering American Women's History Online

Provides access to over 400 "digital collections of primary sources (photos, letters, diaries, artifacts, etc.) that document the history of women in the United States."
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Documents Of United States Indian Policy

Third edition (2000) contains over 200 documents (listed chronologically), with brief commentary on each. The library also has a printed copy.
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Early Americas Digital Archive

"A collection of electronic texts and links to texts originally written in or about the Americas from 1492 to approximately 1820."
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Environmental Issues: Essential Primary Sources

Published in 2006, this is a collection of about 175 primary source documents which focus on the environment, including speeches, legislation, articles, essays, memoirs, letters, interviews, novels, songs, etc., with accompanying information on context. You can view the table of contents here.
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FamilySearch

Free service provides access to genealogical information on millions of individuals from several countries, including the U.S. The information comes from census records, vital (birth, death, marriage) records, social security records, and other sources. Geographic coverage varies greatly.
Important note: You may need to register (free) to view documents.
A better resource for searching U.S. Census records is Ancestry Library Edition.
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Foreign Relations Of The United States

FRUS is the U.S. Government's official collection of publicly-available diplomatic papers. At the present time, there is a time-lag of about 30 years between a document's creation and its appearance in the set.
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Founders Online

Unveiled in June 2013, this still-growing free site makes available about 120,000 letters and other materials from the papers collections of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton. Here is a title list, along with more information.
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Founders' Constitution

Compilation of documents important to the development of constitutional government in the U.S.
The printed multi-volume set is available in the library collection.
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Gender Issues And Sexuality: Essential Primary Sources

A collection (2006) of about 200 documents, including "speeches, magazine and newspaper articles, memoirs, letters, interviews, novels, essays, and much more," on gender and sexuality during the last three centuries. Each entry is accompanied by commentary of the document's context and significance.
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Hein Online

A multifacted repository of online materials for legal and historical research. (W&L Law Library subscription)
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Historic Documents

Contains texts and commentary on over 3,000 documents, ranging from "presidential speeches, international agreements, and Supreme Court decisions to U.S. governmental reports, scientific findings, and cultural discussions." Coverage begins with 1972.
Much of the value of the database lies in CQ's analysis of the actual document, summarizing the history, issues, personalities, and controversies surrounding the item.
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In The First Person

This is an index of over 2,500 collections of English-language oral history transcript collections and audio recordings, providing access to materials from over 9,000 individuals.
Note: While this database is free, access to some transcipt collections may be by subscription only; if you are unable to use a collection, please report it to a member of our Reference staff.
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Making Of America

Digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. The collection currently contains approximately 8,500 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints.
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Newspapers, Historical

Collection of resources, including online databases and microforms, available to Washington and Lee University researchers.
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Papers Of George Washington (Digital Edition)

Electronic edition derived from the Papers project begun in 1969 by the University of Virginia and the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. As of 2012, the database includes all the available Papers.
Printed volumes are available in the library collection.
Acquisition of this resource was made possible by a generous gift from the Friends of the Library of Washington and Lee University.
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Papers Of Thomas Jefferson (Digital Edition)

Brings together all thirty-six volumes published through 2009 into one searchable online resource. In addition, it includes the first four volumes of the Retirement Series sponsored by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which documents the time between Jeffersonís return to private life and his death in 1826.
The library also has printed copies of the original series and the retirement series.
Acquisition of this resource was made possible by the Friends of the Library.
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ProQuest Congressional -- Hearings

W&L's subscription (formerly LexisNexis Congressional) includes "access to every published and unpublished Congressional hearing from 1824 through the present."
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ProQuest Congressional -- Serial Set

August 2012 brings a new interface for ProQuest Congressional (formerly LexisNexis Congressional).
W&L's subscription includes access to Serial Set documents dating back to 1789.

Still being published in paper form in the 21st century, the modern Serial Set is now almost exclusively a collection of Congressional reports and documents. However, for most of its history, it was much more than that, including hundreds of thousands of reports in a wide variety of subject areas from dozens of government agencies. Here is more information on the Serial Set.
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Readers Guide Retrospective

Derived from the venerable Readers Guide to Periodical Literature, this database lists approximately 3 million articles from about 375 leading magazines, such as Time, Newsweek, and the New Yorker, roughly covering the time span from 1890 to 1982.
Note: This database format was changed on 12 December 2011.
Purchase of this database was made possible by the Hal F. and Barbra B. Higginbotham Fund.
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Revolutionary America, 1763-1815 : A Sourcebook

2010 volume is a collection of primary source documents, with introductions and commentary. You may preview the contents. There are some additional materials in a companion Web site.
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Slavery In The United States

Subtitled A Social, Political, and Historical Encyclopedia, this two-volume set (2007) contains ten major essays, 300 alphabetically-arranged articles, primary source documents, and more. You may view a copy of the table of contents.
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Social Networks And Archival Context (SNAC)

Just-developing database (2012- ) intended to be a centralized finding aid for archival records in the U.S., enhanced with biographical data, references in others' works, and other contextual information. For example, here is the record for George Washington.
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Terrorism: Essential Primary Sources

A collection (2006) of about 200 documents, including "speeches, magazine and newspaper articles, memoirs, letters, interviews, novels, essays, and much more," on terrorism in the past three centuries. Each entry is accompanied by commentary of the document's context and significance.
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Women And Slavery In America : A Documentary History

2012 volume contains dozens of primary documents (newspapers, broadsides, cartoons, pamphlets, excerpts from oral histories and memoirs, speeches, photographs, and editorials) organized thematically, covering cultural, political, religious, economic, and social perspectives. You may preview the contents.
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