Online Resources

Three Worlds Meet: Beginnings to 1620

Early Images of Virginia Indians (Virginia Historical Society)
This online exhibit features 18 images with interpretative material and an essay on interpreting historical images. The exhibit also includes useful information on John White’s watercolors, Theodore de Bry’s engravings, and John Smith’s 1612 map of Virginia.

The Story of Virginia: An American Experience (Virginia Historical Society)
This exhibit is divided into four chronological sections and covers Early Virginia to 1775. Students can take a virtual tour of the gallery and explore how the first people came to Virginia, the settlement of Virginia and interactions with Native people, and how Virginia evolved into a diverse society.

Exploring the Early Americas (Library of Congress)
This online exhibit developed by the Library of Congress contains selections from more than 3,000 rare maps, documents, paintings, prints, and artifacts that make up the Jay l. Kislak Collection. The exhibit is divided into three sections: “Pre-Contact America;” “Explorations and Encounters;” and “Aftermath and Encounter.” The exhibit provides insight into the interactions between Native Americans and English explorers during this time period.

1492: An Ongoing Voyage (Library of Congress)
This exhibit provides text and images that describe both pre- and post-contact America as well as the Mediterranean. The Library of Congress’ exhibition explores questions such as: (1)“Who lived in the Americas before 1492?” (2)“Who followed in the wake of Columbus?” and (3)“What was the effect of 1492 for Americans throughout the Western Hemisphere?” The exhibit is divided into six sections and includes selections from 300 objects, manuscripts, books, maps, and artifacts that were on display at the Library of Congress.

Colonization and Settlement, 1585-1763

Virtual Jamestown (Crandall Shifflett, Virginia Center for Digital History)
A work in progress, Virtual Jamestown is a good place to begin exploring the history of Virginia’s first colonial settlement. This site includes 63 letters and first-hand accounts, available in original-spelling or modern-spelling versions; 100 public records, from census data to laws; 30 maps and images; and a sample of documents on labor contracts. The reference section includes a timeline extending from 1502 to the present, narratives by prominent historians, links to 15 related sites, and a bibliography of 20 primary and secondary sources.

Probing the Past (Center for History and New Media and Gunston Hall Plantation)
Presenting 325 probate inventories, this website provides a unique window into daily life in Virginia and Maryland between 1740 and 1810. In this time period, county courts appointed appraisers, local men, to visit an estate after its owner died, list what was there, and estimate its value. These inventories are a sample from the region at this time, and are all digitized, transcribed, and searchable. For more detailed information on the role of material culture in colonial life, the site’s “Interpreting” section presents interviews with two scholars who use probate records to discuss topics such as slavery and slave life, credit and debt, and women and property ownership. Three detailed lesson plans are also available, providing suggestions for incorporating these rich sources into classroom learning.

Salem Witch Trials: Documentary Archive and Transcription Project (Benjamin Ray, University of Virginia)
Of the many websites dealing with the Salem Witch trials of 1692, this one is among the most useful and thorough. It provides full-text versions of the three-volume, verbatim Salem Witch trial transcripts, an extensive contemporary narrative of the trials, and full-text pamphlets and excerpts of sermons by Cotton Mather, Robert Calef, and Thomas Maule. The site also offers four full-text rare books, written in the late-17th and early-18th centuries about the witchcraft scare, and five contemporary maps of Salem and nearby villages. Additionally, the site also provides access to more than 500 documents from the collections archives in Massachusetts. This site is a rich resource for those who wish to conduct research on the Salem witch hysteria.

Leslie Brock Center for the Study of Colonial Currency (University of Virginia)
During the colonial period, each colony issued its own paper money, which caused considerable conflict with Britain in the 18th century. This site contains five full-text 18th-century pamphlets on colonial economic and currency issues from 1720 to 1749; ten other contemporary writings about the economic situation in the colonies, including sermons, currency acts, and letters to Britain’s Board of Trade, the governing body for colonial economic issues. The site also offers one article and excerpts from a book by scholars of colonial economy. There are links to ten tables from Brock’s book, Colonial Currency, Prices, and Exchange Rates, as well as a very thorough bibliography of over 70 scholarly works on colonial economies. This is an ideal source for teaching and researching the colonial economies and money in 18th-century America.

Do History-Martha Ballard’s Diary Online (Harvard University)
This interactive website explores the remarkable 18th-century diary of Maine midwife Martha Ballard. It offers two versions of the 1400-page diary, facsimile and transcribed full-text; the latter is searchable by keyword and date. A searchable archive offers 300 documents, images, and maps on such topics as Ballard’s life, midwifery, birth, medical information, religion, and Maine history. A timeline traces Maine’s history from the first attempt to settle the coastline in 1607, through Ballard’s lifetime (1735–1812), to the present. Interactive exercises offer students the opportunity to transcribe and “decode” portions of the diary, and a “Magic Lens” makes it appear as if Ballard’s handwriting is instantly transcribed. The site is especially useful for research on genealogy, midwifery and herbal medicine, as well as for strategies for using primary sources about daily life in colonial America.

Revolution and the New Nation, 1754-1820s

The Coming of the American Revolution, 1764-1776 (Massachusetts Historical Society)
A collection of Revolutionary war era primary sources is available from the Massachusetts Historical Society. These sources explore how the colonists moved from being a cluster of British colonies in the 1760s to a nation at war in 1776. The primary sources are organized by topic and vary from political acts and newspaper articles, to images and diaries, each offering a unique perspective to examine the coming of the American Revolution.

Inventing American Stories, 1765-1830 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
A collection of paintings from the post-revolutionary period reveals individual stories told through portraiture. Artists and patrons alike can read these paintings as evidence of shifts in population, social strata, artistic practices, and clientele.

First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820 (American Memory, Library of Congress, University of Chicago Library; and Filson Historical Society)
This site provides approximately 15,000 pages of historical published and unpublished manuscript material related to the migration of Europeans west into the Ohio River Valley during the latter half of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th. Includes books, pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, journals, letters, legal documents, pictorial images, maps, ledgers, and other material. The site also includes a special presentation with a 6,500-word hyperlink-filled essay arranged into five sections on contested lands, peoples and migration, empires and politics, Western life and culture, and the construction of a Western past.

Nation at the Crossroads: The Great New York Debate Over the Constitution (New York Historical Society)
The online exhibit highlights the debate over the US Constitution in New York in 1787 and 1788. This controversy was a statewide public debate that aroused strong sentiments on both sides. The exhibition features documents, contemporary newspapers and broadsides, portraits, and objects that were characteristic of the debate.

George Washington: A National Treasure (Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery)
This exhibit focuses on the Lansdowne portrait of George Washington, painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1796. Users may explore this portrait through three different filters: symbolic, biographic, or artistic. Each filter provides background information, and offers an interpretation of each element. In addition, the site contains biographical information on Washington’s life, a teacher’s guide with nine lesson plans on Washington and a chronology of his life, and a teaching section that asks students to find follow clues to locate missing parts of the portrait.

Expansion and Reform, 1801-1861

Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (University of Nebraska Press; Center for Great Plains Studies: UNL Libraries)
This well-designed site presents the “celebrated Nebraska edition of the Lewis and Clark journals,” edited by Gary E. Moulton. The site provides the complete text of all the journals from the 1803 to 1806 expedition, as well as introductions, prefaces, and sources. The material is searchable by keyword and phrase. The site also includes five scholarly essays, more than 46 images of pages from the journals, 26 images of people and places, 50 images of plants and animals encountered on the expedition, 12 explanatory maps, and 9 images of maps from the journals.

George Catlin and His Indian Gallery (Smithsonian Art Museum)
George Catlin, a lawyer turned painter, traveled throughout the American West in the early 19th century to chronicle the Native American experience. His paintings of the Plains Indians are the center of this virtual exhibit. From 1830 to 1836, Catlin visited more than 50 tribes from North Dakota to Oklahoma. A valuable resource for teaching about the Indian Removal of the 1830s, the transformation of the Western frontier, and the encounter of Anglo American and Native American cultures.

Stories for the Public, 1830-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
This collection of paintings reveals a shift from individual portraiture to genre paintings. The scenes in these paintings depict broader topics that are designed to appeal to a wide audience. The works of these artists reinforced notions of an American Identity and began to explore politics and territorial expansion. This is a valuable source for students to explore how people viewed their expanding world in the mid 19th century.

American Political Prints, 1766-1876 (Library of Congress and Harper’s Weekly)
This is an online catalog of American Political Prints that has been annotated by Bernard F. Reilly, Jr. The combination of visual and text imagery in these prints presented a powerful means by which politicians and others could distribute their messages across a wide audience. Major political movements like abolitionism, nativism, and temperance, found a voice in this type of visual media. This collection of prints provides a valuable insight to the politics of the 20th-century.

Trails to Utah and the Pacific: Diaries and Letters, 1846-1869 (Library of Congress, American Memory)
This online collection provides a number of primary source materials that reveal the experience of the movement west. Hosted by the Library of Congress, the online catalog contains 49 diaries by pioneers trekking westward along with 43 maps, 82 photographs and illustrations, and 7 published trail guides. These sources help tell stories of “persistence and pain, birth and death, God and gold, trail dust and debris, learning, love, and laughter.”

The American West (The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History)
This interactive photo tour allows students to explore the American West. A map of the United States and their territories includes markers placed throughout Texas, New Mexico, California, Utah, Oregon, and Nebraska that reveal historic photographs from each location in the mid 19th century.

Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877

Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition (Yale University)
This collection of essays, documents, and bibliographies addresses Atlantic slavery, resistance, and abolition. The “Document Library” includes about 200 speeches, letters, cartoons, graphics, and articles that document slavery in the Americas. An “Online Resources” section provides an annotated list of available sources for teaching and research. A separate “Teachers” page lists all of the teaching resources available from the Gilder Lehrman Center.

“I’ll take up my pen”: Letters from the Civil War (The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History)
This online exhibit contains more than 12,000 Civil War soldiers’ letters from the Gilder Lehrman Collection at the New York Historical Society. This is one of many exhibits hosted by the Gilder Lehrman Institute, which span from the Revolutionary War to the Manhattan Project. These exhibits contain a variety of text, audio, and visual sources to enrich the classroom.

Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War (University of Virginia)
The Valley Project traces the lives of two communities—Staunton, Virginia and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania—from the time of John Brown’s Raid through Reconstruction. This massive, searchable archive offers thousands of pages of maps, images, letters, diaries, newspapers, and church, agricultural, military, and public records—all relating to these two communities during the era of the Civil War.

Selected Civil War Photographs (American Memory, Library of Congress)
This collection offers 1,118 photographs depicting Civil War military personnel, preparations for battle, and the aftermath of battles in the main eastern theater and in the west, in addition to Federal Navy and Atlantic seaborne expeditions against the Confederacy. The site also includes portraits of Confederate and Union officers and enlisted men and photographs of Washington, D.C. during the war. The presentation “Time Line of the Civil War” places images in historical context. “Does the Camera Ever Lie” demonstrates the constructed nature of images.

Reconstruction: The Second Civil War (Public Broadcasting System)
This excellent website contains numerous resources for studying Reconstruction. Users may view a general timeline and overall history of the period, including an interactive and detailed state-by-state map detailing life in 1870 America. Numerous primary sources, photographs, historical objects, and documentary features are also available. Materials are divided into ten sections including: “Forty Acres and a Mule,” “Plantations in Ruins,” “Access to Learning,” “Slave to Sharecropper,” and “White Men Unite.” Each section includes a mini-documentary, clips from the original PBS program, primary sources, special features, and further reading.

Development of the Industrial US, 1870-1900

Chronicling America (Library of Congress and the National Endowment of the Humanities)
This site is a digital collection of historical newspapers that spans from 1836-1922. The database was created from state level projects to locate, describe, and preserve their historic newspaper collections. There are over 4,000,000 pages of newsprint available from newspapers across the United States. The site also provides bibliographic information for American newspapers published from 1690 to date.

The Development of the Industrial United States (Library of Congress)
This page is part of the “Teachers” section developed by the Library of congress. It includes links to primary sources in the Library’s catalog holdings as well as lesson plans that are adaptable to any classroom.

California as I saw It: First-Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849-1900 (Library of Congress, American Memory)
The 190 works presented on this site—approximately 40,000 written pages and more than 3,000 illustrations—provide eyewitness accounts covering California history from the Gold Rush through the end of the 19th century. Most authors represented are white, educated, male Americans, including reporters detailing Gold Rush incidents and visitors from the 1880s attracted to a highly publicized romantic vision of California life. The narratives, in the form of diaries, descriptions, guidebooks, and subsequent reminiscences, portray “pioneer experience, encounters between Anglo-Americans and the diverse peoples who had preceded them, the transformation of the land by mining, ranching, agriculture, and urban development; the often-turbulent growth of communities and cities; and California’s emergence as both a state and a place of uniquely American dreams.”

Teaching with Historic Places: Lesson Plan Index (National Park Service)
Teaching with Historic Places is a resource for teachers, which was developed by the National Park Service. The program has developed over 130 lessons that can be taught in grades 5-12. These lessons include primary sources relevant to different historic places throughout the United States. This section of the site explores the development of the Industrial United States.

Emergence of Modern America, 1890-1930

Picturing Modern America, 1880-1920 (National Endowment for Humanities)
This is an interactive site that guides middle and high school students through images. Students can choose a topic to investigate (industrialization, for example) and a primary source image will appear. Students then pose a question about the image, gather clues, get background knowledge, and draw a conclusion. Students also have the option to build their own exhibit using other visual sources.

Chinese in California, 1850-1925 (American Memory, U.C. Berkeley, California Historical Society)
More than 8,000 items—photographs, letters, diaries, speeches, business records, legal documents, pamphlets, sheet music, cartoons, and art work—document the immigrant experience of Chinese who settled in California during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Access is provided through nine galleries with introductory essays. Four galleries present materials on San Francisco’s Chinatown—its architectural space; business and politics; community life; and appeal to outsiders. Additional galleries deal with Chinese involvement in U.S. expansion westward, communities outside San Francisco, agricultural, fishing, and related industries, the anti-Chinese movement and Chinese exclusion, and sentiment concerning the Chinese.

Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920 (American Memory, Library of Congress)
This site documents the formation of the movement to conserve and protect America’s natural heritage through published works, manuscript documents, images, and motion picture footage. Site visitors can view such holdings as Alfred Bierstadt paintings, period travel literature, a photographic record of Yosemite, and Congressional acts regarding conservation and the establishment of national parks. The site provides an annotated chronology of selected events in the development of the conservation movement, with links to pertinent documents and images.

Earliest Voices: A Gallery from the Vincent Voice Library (Michigan State University Department of History, Vincent Voice Library, and MATRIX)
This collection includes 19 audio clips of speeches recorded by seven turn-of-the-century public figures—William Jennings Bryan, Eugene V. Debs, Thomas Edison, Samuel Gompers, William McKinley, Booker T. Washington, and William Howard Taft. The clips last between one and seven minutes each; all but one were made between 1900 and 1920. Subjects of the speeches include politics, reform, socialism, isolationism, trusts, the gold standard, U.S. military force, labor issues, and race relations. The site includes transcripts of the speeches as well as 150-word biographies and photographs of each speaker.

Urban Experience in Chicago: Hull-House and Its Neighborhoods, 1889-1963 (University of Illinois at Chicago and Jane Addams Hull-House Museum)
This site offers more than 700 items for exploring the settlement house aspect of Progressive Era reform. Resources include articles, letters, memoirs, reports, maps, and photographs. Materials are embedded within a historical narrative that illuminates the life of Jane Addams and the history and legacy of Chicago’s Hull House. The site covers more than 70 topics on life at Hull House, Progressive reform, immigration, and the effects and consequences of urbanization.

Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945

New Deal Network (Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and Institute for Learning Technologies, Teachers College, Columbia University)
A database of more than 20,000 items relating to the New Deal is available on this site. A “Document Library” contains more than 900 newspaper and journal articles, speeches, letters, advertisements, reports, and other textual materials, treating a broad array of subjects relevant to the period’s social, cultural, political, and economic history, while placing special emphasis on New Deal relief agencies and issues relating to labor, education, agriculture, the Supreme Court, and African Americans. The “Photo Gallery” includes more than 5,000 images. This site is of great value for teachers, students, and researchers interested in the social history of the New Deal era.

America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA-OWI 1935-1945 (American Memory, Library of Congress)
This site features more than 160,000 images taken by government photographers with the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the Office of War Information (OWI) during the New Deal and World War II eras. These images document the ravages of the Great Depression on farmers, scenes of everyday life in small towns and cities, and, in later years, mobilization campaigns for World War II. This site includes approximately 1,600 color photographs.

A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution (National Museum of American History, Smithsonian)
Based on a 1987 Smithsonian exhibition, this site allows visitors to click and drag through sections of text, music, personal accounts, and images that tell stories of the forced—and ultimately determined to be unconstitutional—internment during World War II of 120,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. Also provides searching capabilities to retrieve images of more than 800 artifacts relating to the lives of those interned. Sections in the narrative cover immigration, removal, internment, loyalty, service, and justice. Provides a 5,000-word audio file of interview excerpts; 6,400-word accompanying text from the 1994 traveling exhibition; annotated timeline; 72-title bibliography; 20 links to related sites; and two classroom activities. Of value to students of Asian American history, the home front during World War II, and constitutional issues.

Powers of Persuasion: Poster Art from World War II (National Archives and Records Administration)
This site examines poster art as a method of persuasion during World War II. Featuring 33 posters and one audio clip—the song “Any Bonds Today?”—the materials are divided into two sections. The first focuses on themes of “patriotism, confidence, and a patriotic outlook.” The second section presents posters that attempted to foster “feelings of suspicion, fear, and even hate,” a distinctly different strategy of propaganda. The materials are contextualized in background essays. Although limited in number, the site is valuable for studying wartime depictions of gender and race, as well as the power of images to further national goals.

Postwar US, 1945-Early 1970s

The African American Odyssey (American Memory, Library of Congress)
More than 240 items dealing with African American history, including books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings are available on this website. The exhibition explores black America’s quest for political, social, and economic equality from slavery through the mid-20th century. It is organized into nine chronological periods, including slavery; the Civil War and Reconstruction; World War I and the post-war period; the Depression, New Deal, and World War II; and the Civil Rights era.

Documents from the Women’s Liberation Movement (Digital Scriptorium, Duke University)
This site provides access to more than 50 documents—including journal and newspaper articles, speeches, papers, manifestoes, essays, press releases, songs, and poems—concerning the women’s liberation movement. With a focus on U.S. activity in the late 1960s and early 1970s, documents are organized into eight subject headings: General and Theoretical; Medical and Reproductive Rights; Music; Organizations and Activism; Sexuality and Lesbian Feminism; Socialist Feminism; Women of Color; and Women’s Work and Roles.

Harlem History (Columbia University)
This website offers a collection of oral history interviews, images, videos, and scholarship on various aspects of the history of Harlem. It is divided into three main sections. “Arts and Culture” focuses on Harlem’s artists, writers, and musicians. “The Neighborhood” provides seven exhibits that include an oral-history interview with the first African American patrolman in New York City, an essay and video on the architecture of Harlem, an essay on the decline of Jewish Harlem, Bayard Rustin’s reflections on different ethnic groups with economic interests in Harlem, and civil-rights leader Dorothy Height’s description of changes in Harlem and her attachment to the neighborhood. “Politics” offers four exhibits: oral history interviews with A. Phillip Randolph on Marcus Garvey’s movement in Harlem and Bayard Rustin on Harlem congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., a video lecture on Harlem politicians, and a video interview with David Dinkens on 1950s Harlem. The site also offers a short (eight images) photo essay entitled “The Streets of Harlem” and a multimedia presentation on the 1945 Negro Freedom Rally.

Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project (Stanford University)
This site contains approximately 400 digitized speeches, sermons, and other writings covering the period from 1929 to 1958, as well as 16 chapters of material from The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. The site also provides an interactive chronology of King’s life; a 1,000-word biographical essay; 23 audio files of recorded speeches and sermons; 12 articles on King; 32 photographs; and 11 links to other resources. This site is useful for studying the development of King’s views and discourse on civil rights, race relations, non-violence, education, peace, the war in Vietnam, and other political, religious, and philosophical topics

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1945-1972 (US State Department)
Published annually by the State Department, Foreign Relations of the United States is the official record of major declassified U.S. foreign policy decisions and diplomatic activity, with material culled from Presidential libraries and executive departments and agencies. For the Truman Administration, the site provides “1945–50, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment.” Three volumes are available for the Eisenhower years, on American republics, Guatemala, and Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and Cyprus. The Kennedy years are represented by 15 volumes that cover Vietnam, the Cuban missile crisis, the Berlin crisis, and exchanges with Premier Khrushchev. 34 volumes are available on the Johnson Administration, and three volumes are furnished from the Nixon years. Volume summaries provide historical context.

Vietnam Center (Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University)
This site offers full transcriptions of 11 oral histories of U.S. servicemen who served in Vietnam. It also includes 15 papers from the 1996 symposium, “After the Cold War: Reassessing Vietnam”; a 1996 address by former ambassador William Colby on “Turning Points in the Vietnam War”; 11 issues of “Indochina Chronology,” a quarterly journal providing bibliographic resources; 17 issues of the Center’s newsletter; listings for 171 dissertations on the Vietnam War; and links to 20 related sites.

White House Tapes (Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia)
This website offers access to more than 2,500 hours of White House recordings of six American presidents between 1940 and 1973: Franklin Roosevelt (8 hours), Harry Truman (10 hours), Dwight Eisenhower (4.5 hours), John Kennedy (260 hours), Lyndon Johnson (550 hours), and Richard Nixon (2,019 hours). A brief introduction to each set of recordings is provided and edited transcriptions of the Kennedy tapes are available. “From the Headlines” relates current events to the recordings. Eight exhibits with short scholarly essays utilizing clips from the presidential recordings feature such topics as the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” and the Space Race. Additionally, the site presents 16 pre-selected multimedia clips that include recordings of Kennedy discussing withdrawing from Vietnam, Johnson talking to McNamara about leaks, Johnson discussing women in politics, and Nixon discussing Mark Felt during the Watergate cover up. The site is an outstanding resource for researching the administrations of these presidents.

Contemporary US, 1968-Present

National Security Archive (Thomas S. Blanton, Director; George Washington University)
Founded in 1985 as a central repository for declassified materials obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, the Archives at present offers approximately 100 “Briefing Books,” each providing government documents and a contextual narrative on national security history and issues, foreign policy initiatives, and military history. While much of the material relates to events abroad, documents provide information on U.S. involvement and perceptions. Major categories include Europe (with documents on the Hungarian Revolution, Solidarity, and the 1989 revolutions); Latin America (overall CIA involvement, war in Colombia, contras, Mexico); nuclear history (treaties, Berlin crisis, India and Pakistan, North Korea, China, Israel); Middle East and South Asia (Iraq and WMD, hostages in Iran, October 1973 war); the U.S. intelligence community; government secrecy; humanitarian interventions; and September 11 source-books.

The September 11 Digital Archive (Center for History and New Media & the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning)
The digital archive contains more than 150,000 items that tell the story of September 11, 2001. These include first-hand stories submitted by people from across the United States as well as e-mails, images, and other digital materials. In 2003, the archive was added to the Library of Congress’ collections. This acquisition ensured the long-term preservation of this repository.