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Brooks Library Research Guides: Historical Methods (U.S., Jackson era)

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Finding primary resources online
Remember, when searching online, to consider the trustworthiness of websites. URLs ending in .gov (government sites), .edu (sites by universities and educational institutions), and .org (sites by non-profit organizations) will usually yield the most accurate information. The following is a sampling of the many websites that provide primary resources to researchers:

American Memory

This site by the Library of Congress contains information and primary sources across a range of topics in nineteenth-century American history.

American Antiquarian Society (AAS)

The AAS library houses a large collection of printed materials from first contact through 1876. Some materials can only be accessed by subscription while others are freely available online. See, for instance, the society's public digital image catalog.

Avalon Project
Yale University makes available a variety of nineteenth-century documents. Among other things, it provides access to Andrew Jackson's addresses, executive orders, and proclamations.

DoHistory
This site provides an interactive case study that allows users to experience the process of piecing together the life and world of an "ordinary" person in the past. Using Martha Ballard (midwife, 1785-1812) as a study in how to do historical research, the website also links to thousands of primary resources--diaries, letters, maps, court records, town records, account books, medical texts, and more.

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization devoted to the improvement of history education. On this website, the institute has made available more than 60,000 historical documents. Note in particular the primary resources in the section on National Expansion and Reform, 1800-1860.

Harvard University Library, Open Collections Program

Harvard University has created collections of digitized books, images, and papers on a variety of topics, including women's history, immigration history, Islamic heritage, and much more. Each collection is searchable online.

History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web
This website, by the City University of New York and George Mason University, serves as a gateway to web resources and a repository of teaching materials, first-person primary documents, and guides to analyzing historical evidence.

In the First Person
An index of letters, diaries, oral histories and personal narratives.

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Online Catalog
This catalog contains many primary resources including digital images related to Andrew Jackson. Try searching under subjects like "Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845."

Making of America
This collection of primary resources (including books and articles) covers a variety of topics spanning from 1850 to 1877.

University of Houston Digital History
This site summarizes key issues in the nineteenth century and links to documents and images. See, for instance, the section on Native Voices, which includes excerpts from documents that chronicle the Native American experience in the United States. 

Primary resources: African Americans
Excerpts from Slave Narratives
This site by George Mason University provides links to documents dating from 1682 to 1937.

Frederick Douglass Papers
This collection presents the papers of the nineteenth-century African-American abolitionist who escaped from slavery and then risked his own freedom by becoming an outspoken antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher.

From Slavery to Freedom: The African American Pamphlet Collection, 1822-1909
This collection contains 397 pamphlets written by African Americans and others on a variety of subjects relating to African-American history, including slavery, African colonization, emancipation, and Reconstruction. Authors include Lydia Maria Child, Alexander Crummell, Frederick Douglass, Kelly Miller, Charles Sumner, Mary Church Terrell, and Booker T. Washington.

Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860
Highlights of this collection include the cases of Somerset v. Stewart, 1772, which laid the groundwork for the abolition of slavery in England; and Dred Scott, 1857, which helped precipitate the Civil War. Also included are the memoirs of Daniel Drayton, who helped slaves escape to freedom. Other materials document the work of John Quincy Adams and William Lloyd Garrison to abolish slavery. The collection contains courtroom transcripts, speeches from trials, and Supreme Court decisions.

Primary resources: Immigrants
Aspiration, Acculturation, and Impact: Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930
This collection of historical materials from Harvard University's libraries, archives, and museums documents voluntary immigration to the United States from the signing of the Constitution to the onset of the Great Depression.

Center for Jewish History Digital Collections
This collection, by the Center for Jewish History and partnering organizations, features a variety of objects across the course of Jewish history, including rare books, children’s books, personal letters, official decrees, maps, memoirs, posters, photographs, scrapbooks, oral histories, finding aids, dissertations, and much more. This material is searchable by type, keyword, and language.

Mormon Migration
Provided by Brigham Young University, this site offers autobiographies, journals, diaries, reminiscences, and letters documenting the experiences of Mormons who immigrated to the United States, 1840-1932

Primary resources: Native Americans
The Black Hawk War of 1832
Created by Dr. James Lewis as part of the Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project, this site presents searchable primary source materials describing the Black Hawk War of 1832. It includes the Autobiography of Black Hawk, American soldiers' first-hand accounts and reminiscences, maps and other images, and treaties and other government documents.

Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties
Provided by Oklahoma State University Library, this site links to Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties--a seven-volume compilation of U.S. treaties, laws and executive orders pertaining to Native American Indian tribes, 1778-1970.

Missions to Native North Americans

Provided by Harvard University Library, this collection documents the work of the Dakota Mission, which endeavored to Christianize the eastern Sioux. Materials in the collection run from 1844 to 1859 and 1882, and include annual reports, school reports, correspondence from missionaries, items in the Dakota language (including the Constitution of Minnesota), and other materials that document missionary efforts.

The Native American Collection (New York)
This collection by the New York State Archives, State Library, and State Museum, documents the evolving Native American experience within the physical, economic, social, and cultural environments of New York during the past 400 years. Materials include documents, artifacts, photographs, and publications.

Plains Indian Ledger Art
This site from UC San Diego makes available Plains drawing created during the 1860-1900 period. Twenty-seven ledgers are currently available for viewing.

Southeastern Native American Documents, 1730-1842
This collection contains approximately 2,000 documents and images relating to the Native American population of the southeastern United States from the collections of the University of Georgia Libraries, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville Library, the Frank H. McClung Museum, the Tennessee State Library and Archives, the Tennessee State Museum, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and the LaFayette-Walker County Library. Documents include letters, legal proceedings, military orders, financial papers, and archaeological images.

Trail of Tears National Historic Park
See this site from the National Park Service for more information about the Cherokees' Trail of Tears.


Primary resources: Maritime economy
Great Lakes Maritime History Project
This collection by the University of Wisconsin documents the history of travel and trade on the Great Lakes through photographs and art.

Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea
This website chronicles the history of maritime travel and trade in the nineteenth century. Check the digital library to find ship registers, crew lists, whalemen's shipping lists, and exhibits on topics like marine engines.

On the Water
A Smithsonian exhibit with images and encyclopedia-style entries on maritime history in the United States. The exhibit includes primary sources--artifacts, photos, and narrative accounts of maritime excursions that can be read or played aloud.

Sailors' Snug Harbor Collection
Held by Stephen B. Luce Library at SUNY Maritime College, this collection includes correspondence, photos, plans, maps, wills, deeds, and articles that document the history of Sailors' Snug Harbor and its impact on Staten Island and New York.

Primary resources: Politics
American Presidency Project
This website contains a searchable database of documents created by U.S. presidents from 1789 to the present. Documents include inaugural addresses, press briefings, signing statements, and debates.

Getting the Message Out: National Campaign Materials, 1840-1860
Provided by Northern Illinois University Libraries, this website presents an examination of national popular political culture in antebellum America. It includes histories of the presidential campaigns from 1840-1860, as well as primary source material, such as campaign biographies and campaign songbooks.

The Hermitage
See this website based around Andrew Jackson's home to learn more about Jackson's personal history.

A New Nation Votes
This collection features election returns from the earliest years of American democracy. The data were compiled by Philip Lampi. The American Antiquarian Society and Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives have mounted it online with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Primary resources: Religion
The Church in the Southern Black Community, 1780-1925
This collection of printed texts from the libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill demonstrates how southern African Americans experienced Protestant Christianity, 1780-1925. Among other things, these texts demonstrate the tensions between Christianity and the realities of slavery.

Religion and the Founding of the American Republic

This Library of Congress collection comprises over 200 objects, including books, manuscripts, letters, prints, paintings, artifacts, and music that explore the role religion played in the colonies and early American republic, seventeenth century to the 1830s.

Shaping the Values of Youth: Sunday School Books in 19th Century America
This collection, prepared by Michigan State University with assistance from Central Michigan University, presents Sunday School books written for children circa 1820 to 1880. Books are searchable by topic or keyword.

The Ursuline Convent, Charlestown, Mass., Collection
This collection documents the ministry of the Ursulines of Quebec in the Boston area and demonstrates the strong anti-Catholic sentiment in New England. Documents cover 1833 to 1903 and include letters, reports, a scrapbook history, journals, pamphlets, and newspaper clippings.


Primary resources: Southern U.S.
Explore Texas History Resource Center
This site, by the Texas Historical Association, provides articles and images on topics ranging from the Texas Constitution of 1836 to the history of the Texas rangers.

The Portal to Texas History
This collection contains a number of primary and secondary materials relating to Texas as a Republic, the turmoil of Annexation, and the final conversion to statehood.

Tulane University Digital Library
Tulane and its partners provide digitized material in areas such as Latin American studies, jazz, New Orleans and Louisiana history and architecture. See, for instance, the university's collection on the antebellum period in the United States, 1812-1860. 
Primary resources: Western U.S.
First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849-1900
This collection by the Library of Congress contains the full texts and illustrations of 190 works documenting the formative era of California's history through eyewitness accounts.

Gold Rush! California's Untold Stories
This site, by the Oakland Museum of California, documents the San Francisco Gold Rush through paintings, photographs, news excerpts, and artifacts.

Meeting of Frontiers
This site is a bilingual, multimedia English-Russian digital library that tells the story of the American exploration and settlement of the West, the parallel exploration and settlement of Siberia and the Russian Far East, and the meeting of the Russian-American frontier in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

New Perspectives on the West
PBS provides this exhibit to accompany its series, The West. Included are full texts of many memoirs, journals, diaries, letters, autobiographies and other documents excerpted in the television series.

Oregon History Project
This website, by the Oregon Historical Society, conveys Oregon's history through photos, artifacts, and historical essays.

The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco
The Museum of the City of San Francisco provides links to documents (journals, reports, etc.) that convey the early history of San Francisco, including the gold rush of 1849.

WestWeb
Catherine Lavender, of the City University of New York, created this website to feature primary and secondary documents on the history of the western United States. See the index for sample topics.

Primary resources: Women
Manuscript Women's Letters and Diaries, 1750-1950
This collection from the American Antiquarian Society brings together 100,000 pages of personal writings by women of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Includes images of the original manuscripts and an index.

National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection
This collection by the Library of Congress features 167 books, pamphlets and other artifacts documenting the campaign for women's suffrage in the United States, 1848-1921.

A Woman's Work Is Never Done
A look at women's work, from before the American Revolution through the Industrial Revolution, using selected images from the American Antiquarian Society's collection.

Women Working, 1800-1930

This collection by Harvard University features approximately 500,000 pages and images documenting women's roles in the U.S. economy between 1800 and the Great Depression, including working conditions, conditions in the home, costs of living, recreation, health and hygiene, conduct of life, policies and regulations governing the workplace, and social issues.

Finding archival collections
You can use the following catalogs to find archival collections in the Pacific Northwest and around the country. To use archival materials, you may need to travel to an archives or purchase copies of materials.

Northwest Digital Archives (NWDA)
Search NWDA to find descriptions of archival collections throughout the Pacific Northwest. Few collections will date to the Jacksonian era, but some will--like the Benjamin Stark Papers at the Oregon Historical Society. Please contact the repository that holds each collection if you are interested in doing further research.

ArchiveGrid
Use ArchiveGrid to find archival collections throughout the country. Again, please contact the pertinent repository to learn more about collections.

Finding articles
You can use the databases in this list to find articles and book reviews by scholars of American history. Alternatively, use the box below to search Academic Search Complete and America: History and Life.


Research databases
Limit Your Results
Finding newspapers
To find newspapers, check with the Government Publications, Maps, and Microforms Department at Brooks Library. This department makes local, national, and international newspapers available on microfilm. Check this list to see which newspapers the library has available.

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
Featuring a collection of American newspapers digitized by the Library of Congress, this site allows you to search and view pages from 1880 to 1922 and find information about newspapers published between 1690 and the present.

New York Times Article Archive
The New York Times provides a searchable database of articles written after 1851. Articles published before 1923 or after 1986 can be viewed for free, though on a limited basis.

Historic Newspapers in Washington
The Secretary of State's website provides a searchable collection of digitized newspapers from throughout Washington state. Newspapers run from the 1850s to 1890s.

Niles' Weekly Register

The Internet Archive makes available this news magazine, published from 1811 to 1849. Founded by Hezekiah Niles with the mission of publishing on “The Past, The Present, For the Future,” the magazine developed a national circulation. The magazine provides commentary on a number of prominent issues of the time period--of particular interest are its remarks on slavery.

University of Houston Digital Repository
This repository includes indexes for nineteenth-century newspapers as well as some digitized papers. See, for instance, the index to the National Intelligencer--a helpful guide to the 1812-1815 period in American history.

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Subject Specialist
Picture: Talea Anderson

Talea Anderson
Research Librarian
Tel: (509) 963-1718