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Brooks Library Research Guides: History, North America
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Brooks Library Research Guides: History, North America

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The following databases, reference books, websites, and online catalogs are meant to assist as you begin researching a historical topic. This subject guide deals with the history of the Americas, including Canada, the United States, Central and South America.

If you need help with any of these resources, please consult a librarian. We're here to help!
Getting started

Brooks Library Online Catalog - CATTRAX:
To find books, government documents, maps, microforms, journals, and other items, please use Cattrax, the online catalog that describes nearly all the materials held by Brooks Library. You can search by keyword, subject, author, journal title, and more.

All books are shelved on the
3rd and 4th floors of the main campus library according to Library of Congress subject classification. Books labeled with call numbers between A and J can be found on the 3rd floor, while books classified as K to Z can be found on the fourth floor. All government documents, maps, and microforms can be found on the 3rd floor, and all musical recordings on the 4th floor. Physical journals, magazines, and serials are housed on the 2nd floor, while DVDs, video tapes and films may be found on the 1st floor. Children's books are located on the 4th floor.

Summit Online Catalog:
If you cannot find a resource at CWU, you may be able to request it via Summit, a consortium of
37 universities, colleges, and community colleges in the Pacific Northwest. Through Summit you have access to over 9.2 million distinct books, CDs, DVDs, and more. In general, requested items will arrive after three to five days, so it is important to plan ahead when utilizing Summit.

The Summit catalog allows you to find not only books, CDs, and DVDs but also journal articles. In order to find an article through Summit, type a keyword, a subject, or an article title in the search box. Select the "Full text articles" box. You can also click “Find It @ Your Library” to learn if CWU has access to the article in question.
If you cannot find a resource on Summit, you may want to search our databases or request the resource via Interlibrary Loan.

Academic Search Complete:
A scholarly, multi-disciplinary database containing more than 5,300 full-text periodicals, including 4,400 peer-reviewed, scholarly journals, and with indexing and abstracting for more than 9,300 journals. If the article whose title and abstract you found is not available in the Academic Search Complete database try clicking on "Search for Full Text."

The Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLC) provides this index of more than 27,000,000 of the articles published since 1990.  The articles are from over 16,000 journals, covering nearly all fields of knowledge.

Book Index with Reviews:

Book Index with Reviews™ (BIR) is a comprehensive database that provides information on over 5 million book titles. BIR also contains almost 800,000 full-text searchable book reviews from some of the most trusted sources: Library Journal, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and the New York Times Book Review

Dissertations & Theses [ProQuest]
This database provides access to citations and abstracts for thousands of doctoral dissertations and master's theses from 1861 to the present.

Ebsco eBook Collection:
The Brooks Library has permanent access to 3037 digital books from the EBSCO eBook Collection. EBSCO eBooks are digital full-text versions of books in a variety of areas including history.

Gale Virtual Reference Library:

The G.V.R. Library includes, among other things, encyclopedias on environment and society, American immigration, the American West, ethnicity and race, and social psychology. Search results in the Gale Virtual Reference Library will include all encyclopedias unless you click on a specific title and use the Quick Search box within the specific title page.

Our subscription to JSTOR contains every issue of over 600 core scholarly journals in the arts, humanities, the social sciences, as well as the natural and applied sciences. JSTOR also contains citations (bibliographic records) for more than 1,500 leading academic journals, as well as select monographs and other materials valuable for academic work.

OAIster Catalog of Digital Resources:
OAIster is a catalog more than 25 million records of open access digital resource. The digital resources in OAIster include items such as digitized books and articles, born-digital texts, audio files, images, and movies.

Oxford Reference Online:
With over two million entries, Oxford Reference Online is a superb cross-searchable resource to use when you are at the "looking for a clue" or "needing verification" stages of your research. Oxford Reference provides quality, up-to-date information from a series of well-respected books--and unlike Wikipedia
you can cite Oxford Reference in a paper. Use Quick Reference materials to discover a variety of subjects, timelines, quotations, English dictionaries, and bilingual dictionaries.

Project Muse

Project MUSE contains scholarly journals from many of the world's leading university presses and scholarly societies. Currently MUSE includes: 274,848 articles and 479,457 chapters by 199 publishers, and probably has some useful information about your topic. Brooks Library has a partial subscription to Project MUSE, thus some items are available to you in Project MUSE and some items are only available elsewhere.

American history: General resources

America: History and Life:
This database covers the history and culture of the United States and Canada from pre-history to the present. The database also includes "ClioNotes," which provide summaries, timelines and questions about eras and events in American history. This is an index database, meaning that you will find only citation and abstract information, not the full text of the article. 

American Memory Collection
American Memory is the Library of Congress’s digital collection of American historical materials. American Memory contains more than 9 million manuscripts, prints, photographs, posters, maps, sound recordings, motion pictures, books, pamphlets, and pieces of music. The website is organized into more than 100 thematic collections based on format, subject, or creator.

American National Biography
Print Location: Brooks Library, 3rd floor, CT213.A68 1999
This set of biographical dictionaries features over 17,500 profiles of historical figures in American history, as well as a bibliography. The scope of the work runs from the earliest recorded European explorations in the Americas to the very recent past.

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. The website also features audio and video clips as well as information about presidential appearances, election results, and more.

Annals of America:
Print Location: Brooks Library, 1st floor, Ref E173 A793
A twenty-volume set that contains primary documents and readings about major events and ideologies that have impacted the United States. The set begins with a letter from Christopher Columbus (1493) and continues with historical entries up to 1986.

Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy
Yale Law School hosts this collection of primary materials dating from 4000 B.C.E. to the 21st century. Included are the full text of laws, colony charters, acts, and declarations, presidential proclamations, treaties and formal negotiations affecting the United States judiciary system and governmental foreign policy in general.
This site, operated by the Biography Channel, contains tens of thousands of biographies, some quite detailed. Biographical video and short biographical video clips are also 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.

GeoStat Center: Collections--Historical Census Browser:
Geostat Center contains most of the spatial and social science data available through the University of Virginia's library system.

H-Net Reviews
Reviews of books of interest to the humanities and social sciences. The reviews are published online only, within the H-net discussion networks (listserves) and/or on the website. 

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

International Historical Statistics: The Americas, 1750-1993
Print Location:
Brooks Library, 1st floor, Ref HA175 .M55 1998
Topics include: population, vital statistics, labor, industry, agriculture, external trade, transportation and communication, education, prices. Statistics are derived from numerous primary sources.

Mapping History:
A project at the University of Oregon, this website contains modern maps illustrating historical topics in American, European, Latin and African history. Requires Shockwave Player 11.0--a free installation from Adobe.

New York Public Library Digital Gallery:
The gallery contains 600,000 digital images from within the NYPL's collections. See this website for images of postcards, posters, photographs, etc. of technological changes, specific people and historic events throughout America...not just New York.

PAIS International: Public Affairs Information Service
The PAIS (Public Affairs Information Service) International database covers
a wide range of current and past public policy issues in countries throughout the world. emphasizing factual and statistical information. Business topics are covered, with emphasis on economic factors, industry surveys, business-societal interactions and similar issues, rather than details of business operations. PAIS is an index and does not contain the full text of articles.

Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection:
The University of Texas at Austin hosts this collections of maps and links to mapping materials.

POTUS: Presidents of the United States:
This website provides background information, election results, names of cabinet members, notable events, and points of interest about each of the presidents. It also includes links to biographies, historical documents, audio and video files, and other presidential sites.

Reader's Guide to American History
Print Location: 1st floor, Ref Z1236 .R43 1997
Review essays on topics in American history, with each essay containing a list of secondary sources for further research. You'll find mostly sources in political, social and economic history.

Repositories of Primary Sources
A listing of over 5,000 websites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources for the scholar. History, Arts and Culture Portal
This website is a gateway to information regarding history, arts and culture in the United States.

USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service Historical Data
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a wide range of statistics about American agriculture, livestock, and more.

USGS, Historical Statistics for Mineral and Material Commodities in the United States
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) offers this compilation of historical U.S. statistics on mineral and material commodities.

American history: 18th-19th centuries

American Archives: Documents of the American Revolution, 1774-1776:

This resource is a free, online version of Peter Force's American Archives, a compilation of documents from 1774 through 1776. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and housed at the Multimedia Digitization Lab at Northern Illinois University, the American Archives Digitization Project has digitized, indexed, and published that compilation.  


Early Americas Digital Archive [EADA]:
"A collection of electronic texts originally written in or about the Americas from 1492 to approximately 1820." Developed and housed at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, University of Maryland.

Making of America:

This collection of primary resources (including books and articles) covers a variety of topics spanning from 1850 to 1877. Created from the physical collections housed in both the University of Michigan and Cornell University. 

National Geographic: Lewis & Clark:

Interactive site that includes maps, biographies, photographs of trails, children’s educational activities, and more.
American history: 20th century

The Ad*Access Project presents images and database information for over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955
. Ad*Access concentrates on five main subject areas: Radio, Television, Transportation, Beauty and Hygiene, and World War II.

After the Day of Infamy:
Listen to recordings and read transcripts of interviews representing "approximately twelve hours of opinions recorded in the days and months following the bombing of Pearl Harbor from more than two hundred individuals in cities and towns across the United States." Searchable, and browsable by name, subject, title, or geographic location. From the American Memory Project of the Library of Congress.

Cold War International History Project (CWIHP):

The Project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War, and seeks to accelerate the process of integrating new sources, materials and perspectives from the former "Communist bloc" with the historiography of the Cold War which has been written over the past few decades largely by Western scholars reliant on Western archival sources. It also seeks to transcend barriers of language, geography, and regional specialization to create new links among scholars interested in Cold War history.

Foreign Relations of the United States:

The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity. The series, which is produced by the State Department's Office of the Historian, began in 1861 and now comprises more than 350 individual volumes. The volumes published over the last two decades increasingly contain declassified records from all the foreign affairs agencies. Foreign Relations volumes contain documents from Presidential libraries, Departments of State and Defense, National Security Council, Central Intelligence Agency, Agency for International Development, and other foreign affairs agencies as well as the private papers of individuals involved in formulating U.S. foreign policy.

Free Speech Movement Digital Archive:

"The Free Speech Movement (FSM) Digital Archives document the role of Mario Savio and other participants in the Free Speech Movement (University of California, Berkeley, September-December 1964), as well as its origins in political protest and civil rights movements and its legacy of political activism and educational reform that can be traced throughout the country and the world down to the present."

HEARTH: Home Economics Archive:

From Cornell University's Mann Library, HEARTH is a core collection of electronic books and journals in Home Economics and related disciplines. Titles published between 1850 and 1950 were selected and ranked by teams of scholars for their great historical importance. The full text of these materials, as well as bibliographies and essays on the wide array of subjects relating to Home Economics, are all freely accessible on this site.

LIFE Photo Archive:

LIFE magazine has placed its collection of photos and images online. Some of these images go as far back as the 1750s. LIFE images can be searched chronologically by decade or topically by events, people, places, sports, and culture.

Revelations From the Russian Archives:

This companion website to a 1992 Library of Congress exhibit contains documents made available by the Russian Archival Committee, covering "the entire range of Soviet history from the October Revolution of 1917 to the failed coup of August 1991." Exhibit topics include Joseph Stalin, the murder of Sergei Kirov, the secret police, Gulag labor camps, the Ukrainian famine, Chernobyl, perestroika, relations with the U.S. (including the Cold War), and more.

Theodore Roosevelt Digital Presidential Library:
Items in the digital library include correspondence to and from Roosevelt, diary entries, notes, political cartoons, scrapbooks, newspaper columns and magazine articles by and about Roosevelt, speeches, and photographs. Users can also view film clips and listen to audio recordings.

U.S. Army Center of Military History:

This website has a number of books and archival materials on U.S. military history, which are available in full text or as extracts online.

American history: 20th-21st centuries

Laws, Executive Orders and Regulations (National Park Service):
Provides links to the full text of cultural resource management federal laws, regulations and standards.

Newsstand [ProQuest]:
Coverage of over 1200 newspapers, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, plus other important U.S., international and minority interest papers. 

New York Times

Brooks Library has the New York Times newspaper available on microfilm beginning in 1857.
Print location: Brooks Library, Government Documents, 3rd Floor, call # MM-214. 

Oxford Reference Online: Maps:
This title now includes over 775 maps, with locator, physical and political maps for each country, over 120 island maps, state maps for North America, Canada, and Mexico, and more than 100 city maps. - Official Government Web Portal: is the U.S. government web portal to all federal, state, tribal, and local government web resources and services. is intended to help people navigate government information, procedures, and policies.

WorldNews Network
Currently, World News has indexed over 130 million pages covering news about film, sports, entertainment, science, business, health, and every region on Earth.
World News Network presents news from more than 1,000 reputable sources including mainstream providers (BBC, CNN, Reuters, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, etc.) and more regional sources (the Independent, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Times of India).

African American history

African American National Biography:
Print Location: Brooks Library, 3rd floor, E185.96.A4466 2008

Eight volumes, alphabetically arranged:  v. 1. Aaron-Brown, Ruth -- v.2. Brown, S.-Diggs -- v.3. Dihigo-Gwynn -- v.4 Hacker-Jones, Sarah -- v.5. Jones, Scipio-Moore, Kevin -- v.6. Moore, Lenny-Romain -- v.7. Roman-Tzomes -- v.8. Uggams-Zuber

Black History Month:
From InfoPlease Almanac. Offers timelines and much more.


Civil Rights: An Overview:
From Cornell University's Legal Information Institute, this site contains links to numerous U.S. Code sections dealing with civil rights.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture:

From the New York Public Library. Offers a variety of links to the NYPL's digital collections, online exhibitions, and more.

Television News of the Civil Rights Era 1950-1970:

From the Virginia Center for Digital History Research. Includes film footage from the nightly news from two local television stations in Virginia. Included are clips of Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, the governors of the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as segments documenting school desegregation, public meetings, local debates over civil rights matters, and interviews with citizens.


We Shall Overcome: Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement:

This site offers a virtual tour of forty-one houses, schools, churches, and buildings associated with the civil rights movement. Sites can be located by name, state, or geographical location. From the U.S. National Park Service.


Canadian history

Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online [Library & Archives Canada]:
Explore the history of Canada's inhabitants and their cultures. Meet people who played an important role in the formation of what is now Canada. This first phase presents people who died between the years 1000 and 1930 or whose last known date of activity falls within these years.

Statistics Canada: Historical Statistics of Canada:
Contains about 1,088 statistical tables on the social, economic and institutional conditions of Canada from the start of the Confederation in 1867 to the mid-1970s. The tables are arranged in sections with an introduction explaining the content of each section, the principal sources of data for each table, and general explanatory notes regarding the statistics.

History of American music

Historic American Sheet Music:
This website offers digitized images of over 3,000 pieces of American sheet music from 1850 to 1920, along with full-color cover art and advertisements. From Duke University.

Inventions of Note: Sheet Music Collection:
"This sheet music collection consists of popular songs and piano compositions that portray technologies (old and new alike) as revealed through song texts and/or cover art." Technologies include automobile, airplane, radio, and telephone, and most items date from 1890-1920. A small number of entries include sound files. From the Lewis Music Library, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Music for the Nation:
This site contains more than 62,500 pieces of historical sheet music registered by copyright between 1820 and 1885. Included are popular songs, operatic arias, piano music, sacred and secular choral music, solo instrumental music, method books and instructional materials, and music for band and orchestra.

Latin American history

Hispanic American Periodicals Index (HAPI):
This database contains complete bibliographic citations to articles, book reviews, documents, original literary works, and other materials appearing in more than 400 key social science and humanities journals published throughout the world about Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean basin, the United States-Mexico border region, and Hispanics in the United States since 1970. HAPI citations are in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, and other languages.

Latin American History - Resources:
From Professor Mark Becker at Truman State University, this extensive site includes links to many Internet resources. Though not recently updated there is a wealth of information here.

Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States:
Print Location: Brooks Library, 1st floor, Ref E184.S75 O97 2005

The biographies in this four-volume set document the lives of people within the United States, highlighting connections between North American and Latin American cultures.

Pacific Northwest history

Central Washington University Digital Collections:

These digital collections highlight the history, nature and culture of Central Washington University and the central Washington region. Featured are CWU yearbooks, newspapers, newsletters, and meeting minutes, as well as photos of campus buildings and surrounding areas.


Historic Newspapers in Washington:
The Secretary of State's website provides a searchable collection of digitized newspapers from throughout Washington state. You can search by subject area, newspaper, personal name, historic event, or keyword., The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History:
This site offers a searchable database of articles covering local and Washington state history. The website also features bibliographies, sample lesson plans, links to local history sites, cybertours of historic sites and events, and annotated slide shows on various topics.

Northwest Digital Archives:
The Northwest Digital Archives (NWDA) provides guides to hundreds of archival and manuscript collections in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington. If you need a primary source for a paper or project, search the NWDA to see if a nearby museum, archives, or library holds a collection that may fill your needs.

University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections:
Features materials from the University of Washington Libraries and organizations that have participated in partner projects with the UW. Collections are primarily pictorial, although some have accompanying essays and text. Other media are presented, such as newspapers, reports, pamphlets, posters and maps.

Washington State Digital Archives

Search this index database by record series (birth, death, marriage, census, land, and institution records) for a number of Washington State counties. Includes territorial records.

Washington State Pioneer Life Database:

The Washington State Pioneers database is a collection of writings, diaries, letters, and reminiscences drawn from various sources within the University of Washington's Special Collections Division that recount the early settlement of Washington, the establishment of homesteads and towns and the hardships faced by many of the early pioneers.

Washington State University: Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections--Digital Collections:

Here you will find an annotated listing of links to projects and digital collections now available online. Useful for finding primary sources such as maps, photographs, newspaper clippings and even early film on topics in Pacific Northwest history.

Western Waters Digital Library
This digital library brings together a wide range of documents (including legal transcripts, water project records, and personal papers) that document the Columbia, Colorado, Platte, and Rio Grande river basins. The project was completed with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and twelve university libraries in eight western states.

Women's history

American Women's History: A Research Guide:
Provides citations to print and Internet sources, and to selected collections of primary sources. The guide also provides information about the tools researchers can use to find additional books, articles and more.

Women in U.S. History: A Resource Guide
Print Location: Brooks Library, 1st floor, Ref HQ1410.H364 2000
This guide provides biographies, primary documents, and bibliographies about American women.

Women Working, 1800-1930:

The collection now contains approximately 500,000 digitized pages and images of selected rare and historical books, institutional papers, personal papers, diaries, and photographs from Harvard's network of libraries, archives, and museums. The collection is completely free and available to anyone with access to the Internet.

Resources for historians

American Historical Association's Guide to Historical Literature:
Print Location: 1st floor, Ref Z6201 A55 1995
This guide lists books and articles in all areas of historical research.

Center for History and New Media:
The Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University uses digital media and tools to preserve and present history online
. It aims to transform scholarship across the humanities and advance historical education and understanding.

Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing:
Print Location: Brooks Library, 1st floor, Ref D14.E53 1999

This two-volume set is a guide to historical debates and the major historians through the ages. Essays include historiographical biographies of individual historians (though only historians born up to 1945 were included in this edition).

PIVOT (Formerly COS Funding Opportunities):
This database provides access to funding opportunities as well as scholar profiles, with the ability to add your own scholar profile and to view the profiles of various research organizations. PIVOT allows you to also prioritize and save your searches to receive weekly alerts. For more information about registering, please see:
Pivot Video Tutorials.

Note: For some opportunities, sponsors accept only a limited number of proposals or applications from an institution, or require an institution to rank or prioritize applications before submission. If an opportunity is marked "Internal Coordination Required," please contact the
Office of Graduate Studies and Research before applying.

Pocket Guide to Writing In History:
Print Location: Brooks Library, 1st floor, Ref D13 .R295 1998
This book explains how to write a book review, an annotated bibliography, general research papers, and historiographical papers. It also has an abbreviated section on Chicago Manual of Style citation formats for the types of resources historians frequently use.

Public History Resource Center:
The Public History Resource Center exists to support, promote, and disseminate the scholarly and professional work of public historians. The Resource Center provides a forum for research, scholarship, networking, and education in public history and seeks to broaden and deepen the general public's awareness of the field of public history in all its diversity and complexity.

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