The Original Seeker
Charles Evans's magnum opus is the reason a course like this is possible:

American Bibliography; A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets, and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America From the Genesis of Printing in 1639 Down to and Including the Year 1820
.  Main Ref Z 1215 .E92 vols. 1 - 13

His monumental achievement laid the groundwork for future generations of scholars and librarians to reproduce rare and unique texts and make them available to researchers all over the world, first on microfiche and now in digital form, as Early American Imprints.
Primary Texts
Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans (1639-1800)
The definitive resource for information about every aspect of life in 17th- and 18th-century America, from agriculture and auctions through foreign affairs, diplomacy, literature, music, religion, the Revolutionary War, temperance, witchcraft.

Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker (1801-1819)
Picks up where Evans left off, covers topics from from abolitionism to Tippecanoe, documenting the political, social, cultural and geographic growth of the United States in the early 19th century.

American State Papers (1789-1838)
A retrospective re-publication and re-organization of the most important early government documents into the following categories:   Foreign Relations;  Indian Affairs; Finance ; Commerce and Navigation; Military Affairs;  Naval Affairs; Post-office; Public Lands;  Claims; and Miscellaneous.

U.S. Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1994
A collection of official government publications documenting U.S. political, social, cultural, military and ethnic history, as well as international relations, exploration expeditions across the country and throughout the world, genealogy, commerce, industrial development and more. Includes Executive Department publications as well as Congressional materials.

American Periodicals (1740-1940)
Digitized images of the pages of American magazines and journals published from colonial days to the dawn of the 20th century. Titles range from Benjamin Franklin's General Magazine and America's first scientific journal, Medical Repository; popular magazines such as Vanity Fair and Ladies' Home Journal; regional and niche publications; and groundbreaking journals like The Dial, Puck, and McClure's.

Searching in Digitized Texts
Be Aware of Quainte Spelling and the Elongated S
The Queen's English has gone through a few permutations over time - be on the look out for spelling variations.  The optical character recognition (OCR)  technology used to digitize older materials sometimes interprets the elongated "S" as an "F".

Wildcard and Truncation Symbols
In many of the primary text databases you can use a question mark (?)  in place of a single character and an asterisk ( * ) in place of multiple characters.

For example:
- wom?n will search for women or woman
- labo?r will search for labor or labour

- environment* will search for environments, environmental, environmentally, etc.
- pen*lvania will search for pennsylvania and pensilvania
Background & Context Information
General & Multi-Subject Reference Collections
American National Biography
Essays on more than 18,700 men and women from all eras of U.S. history.

Oxford English Dictionary (OED)
The accepted authority on the evolution of the English language over the last millennium - a guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of over half a million words, both present and past.

Historical Statistics of the United States
Official statistics on all aspects of American life starting in Colonial times.

Oxford Reference
More than 100 dictionaries and encyclopedias in the humanities and social sciences from Oxford University Press (does not include the OED).

Gale Virtual Reference Library
More than 100 dictionaries and encyclopedias in the humanities and social sciences from a variety of publishers. 


Early American History
Encyclopedia of the North American Colonies
Main Reference E35 .E53 1993 vols. 1 - 3

Colonial America to 1763
Main Reference E188 .P86 1999

Encyclopedia of North American Colonial Conflicts to 1775: A Political, Social, and Military History


Encyclopedia of Colonial and Revolutionary America
Main Reference E188 .E63 1996

Native Americans
Encyclopedia of American Indian History

Encyclopedia of North American Indians
Main Reference E76.2 .E53 1996

Dictionary of Native American Literature
Main Reference PM155 .D53 1994

Religion
Encyclopedia of Religion
also Main Reference BL31 .E46 2005 vols. 1 - 15

Encyclopedia of American Religious History
Main Reference BL2525 .Q44 2001 vols. 1 - 2

Puritans and Puritanism in Europe and America:  A Comprehensive Encyclopedia

Environment & Exploration
Northeast and Midwest United States:  An Environmental History

Atlas of U.S. and Canadian Environmental History
Main Reference GF503 .A84 2003

Encyclopedia of World Environmental History

Main Reference GF10 .E63 2004 vols. 1 - 3

Literature of Travel and Exploration:  An Encyclopedia
Main Reference G465 .L565 2003 vols. 1 - 3
Culture & Ideas
Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment (2001 - Fitzroy Dearborn Publ.)
Main Reference B802.D491613 2001 vols. 1 - 2

Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment
(2002 - Oxford U Press)

Encyclopedia of American Cultural & Intellectual History
Main Reference E169.1 .E624 2001 vols. 1 - 3
Literature
Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature

Encyclopedia of American Literature
Main Reference PS21 .E53 1999

Science
History of Science in the United States: An Encyclopedia
also Main Reference Q127 .U6 H57 2001
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