American history: Essentials: starting points

What's here

This guide focuses on principal research resources in a subfield of history, supplementing the main subject guide for the field and the comprehensive guide to online primary historical sources.

It incorporates the VT Library's Special Collections & University Archives guides in a tabThis guide also reproduces tabs in Bruce Pencek's other subject guides:  Advice for searching/citing/engaging scholarly literatures; and Accessing VT Libraries' resources from off campus.

This landing page is organized into these sections: Indexes to scholarly historical literature; full-text journal archives; Indexes to popular US periodicals; Background and reference sourcesand tabs identifying additional information.

American history includes the history of peoples and countries of all the Americas since their initial human settlement, not solely the United States and its colonial antecedents. Nonetheless, a bias toward Anglophone North America is a reality in the tools for discovering the scholarly literature. 

Researchers interested in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the history of the Atlantic or Pacific basins should also consult the resources in the world history subject guide. For scholarship regarding the pre-colonial history and prehistory of the Americas, see also the anthropology subject guide.

Locating historical scholarship and resources

Academic journal archives (could be primary or secondary, depending on use)

Indexes to popular and specialist literatures

Background: overviews and themes in United States history

Social Sciences & History Librarian

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Bruce Pencek
Newman Library (MC 0434)
Office #3050
560 Drillfield Dr
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Email is the best way to contact me with questions or appointment requests.

Office hours (walk-in and/or Zoom): T 1-3:00 pm, W-Th 2-4:00 pm (Eastern time), and by appointment.
(540) 231-2140

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Interlibrary Loan Services

All current Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff, regardless of your location, may request through ILLiad for materials:

  • not owned by Virginia Tech (books, articles from journals and conference proceedings, book chapters, standards, and technical papers)
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We ship requests via UPS to users outside the immediate Blacksburg area (Montgomery, Giles and Pulaski counties).

Articles, book chapters, and many technical papers are delivered in PDF format to your ILLiad account. Occasionally, due to copyright restrictions, a paper copy of an article or standard is held for your at the Newman User Services Desk or sent o the mailing address listed on your account.

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Tech's University Libraries seek user input about possible purchases of online resources; October, February, and  (sometimes) April are the primary trial months. 

Let us know how (if...) a trial fits the research, teaching/learning, and public service missions of the university.  Share your judgments through the short survey linked to each trial blurb and/or more detailed remarks in an email to a subject librarians. If we do not receive favorable comments about products on trial, we will not buy them.

All active trials are listed in a sidebar on the Databases A-Z guide, including their expiration dates and links to online user evaluation surveys.  Here I list current trials of likely interest to the departments I serve.  Hover over (i) icon to see description as it appears on Databases A-Z directory.