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History: American History


American History Information Sources


This Research Guide will help you find information in books, library databases, websites, and primary sources.

Emancipation Proclamation painting

First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation

Source: Smithsonian Institution


Use the search box on the library webpage to find books.

If you're just wanting to browse, American History books can be found in the 970s.

Books that check out are on the 2nd floor of the library.

Reference books are on the 1st floor. These include specialized encyclopedias and historical atlases. Reference books are often good starting points for research. Here are some examples:


cover for Encyclopedia of the American Revolutionary Wary 

Encyclopedia of the American Revolutionary War

(R973.303 ENCYCLO)


cover for Encyclopedia of the U.S. in the Nineteenth Century

Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century

(R973.5 ENCYCLO)


cover of Colonial America Encyclopedia

Colonial America: An Encyclopedia of Social, Political, Cultural, and Economic History

(R973.2 COLONIA)


cover of Chronology of American History

Chronology of American History

(R973.02 FREDRIK)

cover of Historical Atlas of the  U.S.

Historical Atlas of the United States

(R973.0223 HAYES)

Help with Research

You can get help with your research by chatting online with a librarian (available 24/7), by emailing us (, or by calling the SCC Library Reference Desk at (509) 533-8821 during our normal business hours.

Citation Guides
How to cite sources in Chicago style, plus other writing assistance information.

Library Databases

Library databases contain reliable information that is generally not available elsewhere on the Web. For this class the following databases will be particularly useful.  They can be found in the research databases section of the SCC Library homepage.

Primary Sources

What are Primary Sources?

 "Primary sources are the evidence of history, original records or objects created by participants or observers at the time historical events occurred or even well after events, as in memoirs and oral histories. Primary sources may include but are not limited to: letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, maps, speeches, interviews, documents produced by government agencies, photographs, audio or video recordings, born-digital items (e.g. emails), research data, and objects or artifacts (such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons). These sources serve as the raw materials historians use to interpret and analyze the past."

Source: Primary Sources on the Web: Finding, Evaluating, Using, Reference and User Services Association

Reference Books with Primary Sources

Located on the 1st floor of the library

  • Annals of America (R973 An72o)
  • American Reader: Words That Moved a Nation (R973 AMERICA)
  • Contemporary American Voices: Significant Speeches in American History, 1945 - Present (R973.92 ANDREWS)
  • Documentary History of the U.S. (R973 Heffner)
  • Encyclopedia of American Historical Documents (R973.03 ENCYCLO)
  • Encyclopedia of the American Revolutionary War (R973.303 ENCYCLO)
  • Eyewitness to America: 500 Years of America in the Words of Those Who Saw It Happen (R 973 EYEWITN)
  • First Encounters: Native Voices on the Coming of the Europeans (R909 FIRST E)
  • Founding the Republic: A Documentary History (R973.3 FOUNDIN)
  • Historic Documents (R973 HISTORI)
  • Milestone Documents in American History (R973 MILESTO) - online version available in the SCC Library's Salem Press database
  • Representative American Speeches (R815.5082 R299a)
  • Voices of Civil War America : Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life (R973.78 VOICES)

Primary Sources in Books That Check Out

Use the Search Box on the Library webpage to combine an historical event or period with words like: correspondence, diaries, interviews, personal narratives, sources, speeches, documents.  Search examples:

  • Civil War correspondence
  • New Deal personal narratives

Library Databases that contain Primary Sources

Find these databases on the library's Research Databases page.

Websites that contain Primary Sources