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Brooks Library Research Guides: History, Trans-Mississippi American West

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Finding books
To find books about Western American history, try searching in the Cattrax catalog. To find primary source material, incorporate words like "diaries," "personal narratives," "autobiography," "correspondence," "sources," "pamphlets," or "early works" into your keyword or subject searches. One of the following subjects may prove useful as a starting point in your searches, though these are only sample topics:

California--Gold discoveries
Frontier and pioneer life
Great Basin -- History

Great Plains -- History
Indians of North America -- History
Mexican War, 1846-1848
Mormons -- History
Pacific States -- History
Pioneers -- West (U.S.) -- Biography
Southwest, New -- History
Utah -- History
Washington (State) -- History
West U S Women Biography
West (U.S.) -- Description and travel

Finding journal articles
To find journal articles on Western American history, try a search in one of the databases from this list, or use the box below to search EBSCO databases.


Research databases
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Finding newspapers
When searching for newspapers, please note the following: Brooks Library provides many newspapers on microfilm or via database. Universities, national or local libraries may also provide digitized runs of newspapers online. Google also offers an index to many newspapers, as well as digitized editions. The following list of newspaper sources is far from exhaustive, so further exploration may be necessary.

Microfilmed newspapers at Brooks Library
Check with the Government Publications, Maps, and Microforms department on the third floor of Brooks Library to find local, national, and international newspapers on microfilm. Example titles include the San Francisco Examiner (1902-1917), the Seattle Times (1889-1891, 1895-1896, 1966-2011), the Los Angeles Times (1886-1952), the Pendleton Republican (1897-1900), the Morning Oregonian (1861-1955), the Yakima Herald-Republic (1903-2011), the Miner-Echo (1922-1960), and the Ellensburg Daily Record (1938-2005).

Newspaper databases at Brooks Library
Try Newspaper Source Plus for full-text newspapers, providing more than 35 million articles. Or try Newsstand [Proquest], which covers newspapers including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. These databases are useful for contemporary history, as they offer articles published relatively recently.

Arizona Digital Newspaper Program
Covers the 1850s to 1920s.

California Digital Newspapers Collection
Covers 1846-1922.

The Canada Gazette
Official Canadian government newspaper, 1841-1997.

Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection
Covers 1859-1923.

Chronicling America, Library of Congress
This site provides access to American newspapers dating from 1836 to 1922. It also provides information about American newspapers published between 1690 and the present.

Google Newspapers
Google offers runs from a variety of newspapers. Some are full-text and some are abstracts only.

Historic Mexican and Mexican American Press, mid-1800s to 1970s

English and Spanish language newspapers from Arizona, California, Texas, and Mexico. Includes a number of newspapers from Tucson and the University of Arizona.

Historic Oregon Newspapers
Covers 1846-1922.

Historic Newspapers, Washington State

This website makes available newspapers from across Washington state, circa 1852-1892.

Historical U.S. Newspapers Online (By Bowling Green State University)
Bowling Green provides this thorough listing of American newspapers available online. Newspapers are organized by state.

Student Newspaper Digitization Project, Central Washington University
Copies of CWU's student newspaper are available from 1917 to 2000.

Early Texas Newspapers
This site provides access to 12,280 pages of Texas newspaper pages that date as early at 1829.

Utah Digital Newspapers
Includes over 1,000,000 pages of historic Utah newspapers, which can be searched by issue, keyword, article title, weddings, deaths, or births.

Sitka Sentinel 1940-2006
For Sitka, Alaska.

Crime in the West
Clyde Barrow Gang Collection
The Bonnie and Clyde materials include photographs, typescript documents, fingerprint cards, and police department memoranda concerning the activities and whereabouts of the Barrow Gang.

Who Killed William Robinson?

William Robinson was a black American who was murdered on Salt Spring Island in the British Colony of British Columbia in 1868. This site contains newspaper stories, inquests, trial documents, correspondence, diaries, paintings, artists' reconstructions and photographs about the Robinson murder and its context.

Roslyn Bank Robbery Papers, 1892-1893
This collection consists of photocopied material and research notes related to the robbery of the Ben E. Snipes & Co. Bank in Roslyn, Washington, the ensuing trials and the prison escape of two suspects from the Kittitas County jail in Ellensburg, Washington. Collection available at CWU Archives and Special Collections, 4th floor, Brooks Library.

Ethnic groups: African Americans
African American Funeral Programs of San Antonio
The San Antonio Public Library presents its collection of African American funeral programs. The collection consists of over 1,000 programs that date from 1935 to present day and depicts the African American community in Bexar County.

Black Oral History Collection (Washington State University)
This digital exhibit contains interviews with black pioneers and their descendents from Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Idaho.

California Underground Railroad (Sacramento State University)
This digital archive uses letters, journals, photographs, documents, newspapers and more to tell the often overlooked experiences of African-American slaves in California.

Documenting the African American Experience in Las Vegas
Includes oral histories and photographs on African Americans in Las Vegas.

In the Steps of Esteban: Tucson's African American Heritage (University of Arizona)
This digital exhibit documents the history of Tucson's African American community, sharing the stories, photographs and memories of some of its members. It also brings forward some of the experiences of African Americans in the U.S. Southwest.

Roslyn Black History (Central Washington University)
These images document the work and lives of African American miners in the Roslyn, WA, region.

Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project (University of Washington)

This website provides video oral histories, photographs, documents, movement histories, and personal biographies on the civil rights movements during the twentieth century in Seattle, WA.

Ethnic groups: Asian Americans
Children of Minidoka (University of Washington)
This exhibit uses student essays, photos, and newsletters to document the lives of Japanese American children at Minidoka relocation camp.

The Chinese in California, 1850-1925 (Library of Congress)

This digital exhibit provides access to books, pamphlets, prints, photographs, manuscripts, and sheet music on the history of Chinese people in California.

Densho Archive: Japanese American Legacy Project

This digital archive holds over 550 visual histories and over 10,800 historic photos, documents, and newspapers. These primary sources document the Japanese American experience from immigration in the early 1900s through redress in the 1980s with a strong focus on the World War II mass incarceration.

Internment of San Francisco Japanese (Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco)

This exhibit includes articles from the San Francisco News, March to April 1942, reporting on Japanese internment. The site also includes reports and photographs of internment camps.

Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives (Calisphere)
This exhibit includes personal and official photographs, letters and diaries, transcribed oral histories, and artwork created by Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II.

Korean American Digital Archive (University of Southern California)
This archive includes thousands of documents, photographs, and oral histories about the experience of Koreans in America between 1903 and 1965. Some materials may only be available on site at the University of Southern California.

SEAAdoc: Documenting the Southeast Asian American Experience (UC Irvine)
This resource provides access to primary and other resource material focusing on the experience of post-1975 refugees and immigrants from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

South Asian Oral History Project (University of Washington)
This digital archive contains interviews with individuals who immigrated from South Asia to the Seattle area during the 1950s-1980s.

Ethnic groups: Latin Americans
Chicano/a Movement in Washington State History Project (University of Washington)
This site offers oral histories, newspaper excerpts, photographs, and essays on the Chicano movement in the United States, mid-1960s to the 1980s.

Hispanic Music and Culture of the Northern Rio Grande (Library of Congress)
This exhibit documents the religious and secular music of Spanish-speaking residents from rural northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.

Musica de la Frontera (UCLA)
This site provides access to recordings of vernacular Mexican music from throughout the twentieth century.

Study of the Spanish-Speaking People of Texas (University of Texas at Austin)
This collection consists of some 900 images taken by Russell Lee between April and July 1949 in Corpus Christi, San Angelo, San Antonio, and El Paso.

Tejano Voices
This site presents the recollections of 173 Tejanos and Tejanas and their struggle against racial discrimination in post-World War II Texas.

Texas-Mexican Presbytery Records
The Texas-Mexican Presbytery was established by the Synod of Texas of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. in 1908, based on the missionary work of Walter S. Scott and Robert D. Campbell. These men organized and aided in the development of Mexican Presbyterian churches and religious education programs in Texas, particularly in the southwest region. Their work is documented here in photographs.

Ethnic groups: Native Americans
Brooks Library Special Collections
The CWU Archives and Special Collections (4th floor, Brooks Library) offers a variety of books on Native American history. See this guide for suggested titles relating to Yakama Indians. Note that many other titles are also available at Brooks Library.

Native American Research Guide
See this guide for suggested primary and secondary sources on Native American history. See in particular the sections on tribes in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest.


Labor in the West
1934 International Longshoremen's Association and General Strikes of San Francisco (Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley)
The General Strike of San Francisco occurred July 16-19, 1934, as an outgrowth of the International Longshoremen's Association strike. Some digitized content available--see link to online items.

America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894-1915 (Library of Congress)
This collection comprises 150 motion pictures, which show the United States Postal Service, cattle breeding, fire fighters, ice manufacturing, logging, calisthenic and gymnastic exercises in schools, amusement parks, boxing, expositions, football, parades, swimming, and other sporting events.

The Bisbee Deportation, 1917 (University of Arizona)
The Bisbee Deportation of 1917 was an event specific to Arizona that influenced the labor movement throughout the United States. What started as a labor dispute between copper mining companies and their workers turned into vigilante action against the allegedly nefarious activities of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.). This site is a research-based collection of primary and secondary sources for the study of the deportation of over 1,000 striking miners from Bisbee on July 12, 1917.

Centralia Massacre Collection (University of Washington)

This digital collection of pamphlets, leaflets and letters, originally held by the now defunct I.W.W. Seattle Office, focuses on the Centralia Massacre of 1919 in Centralia, Washington.

Civilian Conservation Corps in Idaho (Idaho State Historical Society)

Images of camps, projects, and participants in the CCC during the Great Depression in Idaho.

Ellensburg Rodeo
For more on the Ellensburg Rodeo, and its participants, please see this subject guide.

Frederick Krueger Collection (Central Washington University)
This collection consists of subject files, photographs, oral histories, and maps that document life in the Upper Kittitas Valley of Washington state from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century. Of special note are materials on coal mining in the Roslyn, WA, area. This collection can be accessed at the CWU Archives, 4th floor, Brooks Library.

Homer B. Splawn Papers, 1860-2007 (Central Washington University)
This collection, created by the Splawn family of Yakima, WA, provides insights about ranching, politics, women's roles, and Native Americans in Washington state. The collection can be accessed at the CWU Archives, 4th floor, Brooks Library.

Kittitas County Central Labor Council Records, 1939-1998
Included in this collection are union records, meeting minutes, financial receipts, bank statements, deposit records, labor publications, member registers, membership cards, and delegate information. Collection held at CWU Archives, 4th floor, Brooks Library.

Labor Archives of Washington (University of Washington)

This digital archive includes primary source material on Pacific Northwest labor history. Topics include the I.W.W. in the Pacific Northwest, labor and the New Deal, cannery worker unionism, and the Seattle General Strike of 1919.

Mining in Idaho (Idaho State Historical Society)
Comprises images and materials documenting mining in Idaho.

Mining in the Pacific Northwest

For more on mining in the Northwest, please see this subject guide.

Strike! Labor History Encyclopedia for the Pacific Northwest (University of Washington)

This website provides descriptions of primary source material related to labor history in the Pacific Northwest.

WTO Seattle Collection (University of Washington)
The protests depicted in this digital collection took place between November 29, 1999 and December 3, 1999, when the World Trade Organization (WTO) held its ministerial meeting in Seattle. This collection of images was chosen to illustrate both the diversity of the protests and the mobilization efforts that brought so many activists to Seattle.

Regions: California
Calisphere (University of California)
This site hosts thousands of photographs, documents, works of art, and other historical materials contributed by 122 Californian archives, libraries, museums, and historical societies.

Online Archive of California
This site provides descriptions of primary resource collections held at libraries, special collections, archives, historical societies, and museums throughout California. Portions of some collections are made available digitally while others are only summarized.

Regional Oral History Office
As a division of the Bancroft Library, this office documents the history of California and the West through audio/video interviews. Interview topics include politics and government, law and jurisprudence, arts and letters, business and labor, social and community history, University of California history, natural resources and the environment, science, medicine, and technology.

Virtual Oral/Aural History Archive
This archive contains interviews relevant to topics like women's social history; labor and ethnic studies; Long Beach, CA, history; and musical developments in southern California.

Regions: Mountain West
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Utah (University of Utah)
This exhibit comprises maps of Salt Lake City, Logan, Price, and other cities in Utah, 1884-1950.

Colorado Plateau Archives (Northern Arizona University)

This collection includes 32,000 letters, diaries, and ledgers; vintage and contemporary photographs; oral history interviews; films; and maps. The collection covers the past century and addresses topics such as the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon; Native American history and culture (Four Corners area); land use and the environment; and economic development.

History of the American West, 1860-1920 (Library of Congress)

This collection comprises photographs, drawn from the holdings of the Western History and Genealogy Department at Denver Public Library. The photos document Colorado towns and landscape, mining in Colorado and the West, Native American traditions, and World War II military efforts.

Mountain West Digital Library

This digital library provides free access to over 800,000 resources from universities, colleges, public libraries, museums, historical societies, and government agencies, counties, and municipalities in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, Hawaii, and other parts of the U.S. West. Included are photos, diaries, narratives, and more on a wide range of topics.

Regions: Pacific Northwest
Alaska, Western Canada and United States Collection (University of Washington)
This digital collection features historic photographs documenting the geographic area of Alaska, the western United States and the Canadian provinces of Yukon Territory and British Columbia. The collection features images of Oregon, Idaho, and areas of interest in Alaska and the Yukon Territory relating to the Gold Rush of 1898-1900.

Brooks Library Digital Collections (Central Washington University)
These collections document the history of Central Washington University, as well as the central Washington region. Included are images of Grand Coulee Dam, campus yearbooks and newspapers, CWU Board of Trustee meeting minutes, photos of Ellensburg and nearby towns, and interviews with CWU faculty and community members.

Digital Collections (University of Washington)
See these collections for thousands of photographs, maps, newspapers, posters, reports and other media on topics relevant to the Pacific Northwest.

Eric A. Hegg Photographs (University of Washington)
Photographs documenting the Klondike and Alaska gold rushes from 1897 - 1901. Images include depictions of frontier life in Dawson City, the Yukon Territory, and Skagway and Nome, Alaska.

Journeys to the past : historical documents of Washington / prepared by the staff of the Washington State Archives
This book is located in the CWU Archives, 4th floor, Brooks Library. Call number: F891 J68 1983.

Message of the Governor of Washington Territory [microform]. Also, the correspondence with the secretary of war, Major Gen. Wool, the officers of the regular army, and of the volunteer service of Washington Territory
Located in Government Publications, Maps, and Microforms, 3rd floor, Brooks Library. Call number: MM-641.

Washington State Digital Archives

This digital archives is dedicated to the preservation of electronic records from both state and local agencies that have permanent legal, fiscal or historical value in Washington state. Archival materials include audits, death records, birth records, property records, maps, surveys, family histories, court cases, and more.

WSU Archives Digital Collections
Includes photographs, documents, and maps on the history of eastern Washington, Native Americans, and more.

Regions: Southwest
Annals of the city of Kansas [microform]
Published in 1848, this account considers agricultural, mineral and commercial resources in western Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico in the mid-nineteenth century. Located in Government Publications, Maps, and Microforms, 3rd floor, Brooks Library. Call number: MH-351, LAC 15350.

Arizona Memory Project
This site provides government documents, photographs, maps, and objects that chronicle Arizona's past and present. Libraries, archives, museums and cultural institutions from across the state participate in the project.

Autry National Center of the American West
Autry provides this database containing data and images of items from the collections of museums, libraries, and archives. Materials include art, tools and utensils used in daily life and ranching, decorative arts, firearms and armaments, clothing and accessories, cultural materials including American Indian ethnographic collections, historic photographs and photographs from Western movies, manuscript collections, ephemera, and books.

Campaigns of the Rio Grande and of Mexico [microform] : with notices of the recent work of Major Ripley

Published in 1851. An account of the Mexican War, 1846-1848. Located in Government Publications, Maps, and Microforms, 3rd floor, Brooks Library. Call number: MH-351, LAC 16384.

Elements of military art and science [microform] : or, Course of instruction in strategy, fortification, tactics of battles

Published in 1863. Contains notes on the Mexican War, 1846-1848. Located in Government Publications, Maps, and Microforms, 3rd floor, Brooks Library. Call number: MH-351, LAC 14347.

Letters of Gen. Scott and Secretary Marcy relating to the Mexican War [microform]

Published in 1848. Relates to the Mexican War, 1846-1848. Located in Government Publications, Maps, and Microforms, 3rd floor, Brooks Library. Call number: MH-351, LAC 40150

Letters of Zachary Taylor [microform] : from the battle-fields of the Mexican War

Published in 1908. With reference to the Mexican War, 1846-1848. Located in Government Publications, Maps, and Microforms, 3rd floor, Brooks Library. Call number: MH-351, LAC 16831.

Nevada History Digital Collections (University of Nevada Las Vegas)
Digital collections include menus, photographs, oral histories, and documents on topics like showgirls, aviation, water, and ethnic identity in Nevada.

Portal to Texas History
This site serves as a gateway to Texas history materials, including photos, books, maps, newspapers, and documents.

Trading and exploration in the West
Buffalo land: an authentic narrative of the adventures and misadventures of a late scientific and sporting party upon the great plains of the West [microform]
By W.E. Webb, published in 1872. Located in Government Publications, Maps, and Microforms, 3rd floor, Brooks Library. Call number: MH-351, LAC 13349.

John Wesley Powell Collection (University of Utah)
This collection comprises reports on the Powell expedition down the Colorado River in 1869.

The journals of Patrick Gass : member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Located in CWU Archives, 4th floor, Brooks Library. Call number: F592.5 .G2 1997.

Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Located in CWU Archives, 4th floor, Brooks Library. Call number: F592.4 2002.

Mountain Men and the Fur Trade
This site provides diaries, narratives, correspondence, photos, and maps revealing the history, traditions, tools, and mode of living, of trappers, explorers, and traders in the West.

Western environment
Fire in the Pacific Northwest
For more on fires in the Northwest, please see this subject guide.

Framing the West (Library of Congress)
This collection comprises photographs by Timothy O’Sullivan (1840-1882), who documented western landscape during two government expeditions in the West--the King survey of the 40th parallel and the Wheeler survey west of the 100th meridian.

Hanford Nuclear Site
For more on Hanford, please see this subject guide.

John N. Cobb Photographs (University of Washington)

These photographs by the founder of the University of Washington College of Fisheries document fisheries in the United States. Among the photographs included in this digital collection are images of salmon, halibut and cod fisheries along the West Coast, whaling activities in Alaska, and clamming and oystering industries in Washington.

Las Vegas and Water in the West (University of Nevada Las Vegas)
This project documents the planning and construction of Hoover Dam. The collection includes reports, studies, promotional literature, and photographs taken by the Bureau of Reclamation and the consortium of companies that constructed the dam.

Nevada Test Site Oral History Project
This project comprises interviews with scientists, engineers, military personnel, Native American tribal leaders, protesters, ranchers, and community members affected by the Nevada Test Site during the Cold War nuclear era.

Northwestern Improvement Company Field Survey Notebooks, 1908-1923 (Central Washington University)
The collection consists of field survey notebooks composed by surveyors of the Northwestern Improvement Company of Cle Elum, Washington, from 1908 to 1923. The notebooks contain surveys of construction projects in Cle Elum and Roslyn, WA. The collection can be accessed at the CWU Archives, 4th floor, Brooks Library.

Rufus Woods Papers, 1896-1980 (Central Washington University)
This collection contains the papers of Rufus Woods, a key promoter of the Grand Coulee Dam. Materials include correspondence, meeting minutes, newspaper clippings, photographs, and congressional legislation related to the dam. The collection can be accessed at CWU Archives, 4th floor, Brooks Library. Select materials are also available online via the Brooks Library Digital Collections.

Western Waters Digital Library (Greater Western Library Alliance)
This digital library provides free public access to digital collections of significant primary and secondary resources on water in the western United States.

Western migration
Across the plains [electronic resource] : an 1862 journey from Omaha to Oregon / William Smedley
Available online via EBSCO.

American Westward Migration (University of Utah)
This exhibit includes diaries and maps by those traveling west in the nineteenth century. Emphasis on Mormon pioneers.

Bound for Idaho : the 1864 trail journal of Julius Merrill / edited by Irving R. Merrill ; foreword by Merle Wells

Located at Brooks Library, 3rd floor. Call number: F597 M47 M47 1988.

Dreams to dust : a diary of the California gold rush, 1849-1850 / by Charles Ross Parke ; edited by James E. Davis
Located at Brooks Library, 3rd floor. Call number: F593 P28 1989.

News of the Plains and Rockies, 1803-1865 : original narratives of overland travel and adventure selected from the Wagner-Camp and Becker bibliography of Western Americana

Located at Brooks Library, 3rd floor. Call number: F591 .W67 1996.

Off at sunrise : the overland journal of Charles Glass Gray

Located at Brooks Library, 3rd floor. Call number: F593 G73 1976.

On the Santa Fe Trail / edited, and with an introduction by Marc Simmons

Located at Brooks Library, 3rd floor. Call number: F786 O6 1986.

This emigrating company : the 1844 Oregon Trail journal of Jacob Hammer
Available at Brooks Library, 3rd floor. Call number: F592 H26 1989.

Trails of Hope: Overland Diaries and Letters, 1846–1869 (Brigham Young University)
This collection provides the original writings of 49 voyagers on the Mormon, California, Oregon, and Montana trails. Also included are maps, paintings, and essays.


Women in the West
Abigail Scott Duniway Collections (Lewis and Clark College)
Duniway played an important role in women's rights advocacy in the West. Included in this collection are digitized versions of her books including: From the West to the West; David and Anna Matson; Oregon: Land of Promise; Path Breaking; and Captain Gray's Company.

Eva Greenslit Anderson Papers (CWU Archives)
Anderson (1889–1972) was an educator, school district administrator, clubwoman, and state legislator in central Washington state. This collection of speeches, scrapbooks, and correspondence chronicles Anderson's interests in education, youth, women, politics, and church.

Home Economics Archive (Cornell University Library)
This digital archive contains essays, bibliographies, and the full text of many books and journals on home economics and related disciplines.

The Real Rosie the Riveter Project (New York University)
This site offers 48 interviews with women who worked in factories during World War II.

Rosie the Riveter: WWII American Homefront Project (UC Berkeley)
This site provides interviews with Bay Area, CA, residents who recounted their experiences on the homefront during World War II.

"There Are No Renters Here": Homesteading in a Sod House (Women of the West Museum)
This exhibit uses letters, maps, and photographs to tell the story of Mattie Oblinger, who left Indiana with her husband and daughter to start a homestead in Nebraska.

Women Working, 1800-1930 (Harvard University Library)
This digital archive contains books, magazines, trade catalogs, pamphlets, and photos documenting the role of women in the workforce. Select regions from this list to find materials specific to the western United States.

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