The Duke University Libraries contain a wealth of primary materials for the researcher in U.S. history. The collections housed in the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library (RBMSCL) should not be overlooked. The RBMSCL's holdings on the American South are particularly strong.
There are also many resources outside of the materials in the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. In the collections of the libraries outside of RBMSCL, primary resources take the form of published letters, diaries, and papers. To identify these resources in the online catalog, look for the subdivisions, correspondence, interviews, sources, diaries and personal narratives. Any of these terms can be used in the keyword search mode; for example, vietnam and personal narratives.
The Library also subscribes to numerous databases which index or provide full-text access to primary resources. The ones listed below are particularly useful for research in the field of U.S. history. For a complete listing, see the Primary Resources Databases. Note: These databases are restricted to Duke users.
19th Century Masterfile indexes nineteenth century periodicals, books, newspapers, and government documents.
African American Newspapers: The 19th Century provides the full text of articles from many of the major African-American newspapers of the 19th century.
The American Civil War: Letters and Diaries provides access to full text letters, memoirs, and diaries written from 1861 to 1865. The indexing in this database is phenomenal. You can restrict your search to the martial status, occupation, military rank, religion, and much more of the authors included in the database.
American Periodicals Series (APS) provides access to full text images of popular American newspaper, professional journals and magazines that began publication from 1740-1900.
America's Historical Newspapers (1690 to 1922) provides access to scanned images from newspapers from all 50 U.S. states.
Early American Imprints I (Evans) is the digital version of the Early Amerian Imprints, a microfilm set based on the American Bibliography by Charles Evans and enhanced by Roger Bristol's Supplement to Evans' American Bibliography. The databases includes more than 37,000 broadsides, pamphlets, and books published from 1639 to 1800. Early American Imprints II covers the period of 1801 to 1819.
Early English Books Online (EEBO) reproduces over 125,000 books, pamphlets and broadsides published in English between 1475 and 1700.
Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) provides access to the complete works of many 18th century authors, women writers of the 18th century and French Revolution collections are included.
Harper's Weekly provides access to images of all the pages in Harper's Weekly from 1857 to 1912. Everything in this publication has been indexed. You can even exclusively search the advertisements or illustrations.
Los Angeles Times (1881 to present; full-text)
The Nation (1865 to present, excluding the most recent 18 months) is a fully searchable, full-text database of the content of The Nation, a liberal U.S. current affairs magazine.
New York Times (1851 to 3 years ago; full-text)
North American Women's Letters and Diaries contains over 2000 sources from North American women from colonial times to the 1950. It includes records from close to 1,500 women. Like The American Civil War: Letters and Diaries, the indexing is outstanding.
Periodicals Index Online indexes thousands of selected periodicals in the humanities and social sciences from their first issues to 1995. This index is international in scope and coverage begins from 1770. Book reviews are also indexed.
Readers' Guide Retrospective (1890-1982) is an excellent source to identify articles from popular/general interest magazines. It indexes over 200 magazines published in the United States.
U.S. Congressional Serial Set allow the user to search or browse the reports, documents, and journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. You can browse by subject, committee, author, publication type, or Congress. The database currently covers the years 1817 to 1917. Eventually, coverage will extend up to 1980.
Wall Street Journal (1889 to 1989; full-text)
Washington Post (1877 to present; full-text)
Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 examines United States women's social movements from colonial times to present through primary source documents.
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