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

Profile Photo
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

Ask a Librarian

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)
  • owned by Virginia Tech but are unavailable for use (print books)
  • owned by Virginia Tech and available in print (scans of articles from journals and conference proceedings, book chapters, standards, and technical papers)

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.

Temporary, trial access only -- use while you can

The University Libraries at Virginia Tech regularly secure short-term, trial access to online resources in order to gauge their appropriateness to our university's teaching and research missions. These trials run in October, February, and sometimes April.  Most trials run 30 days.

Trials are listed in a sidebar in the main Databases A-Z directory

Each entry includes a link to a user survey. I and other subject librarians invite you to email us your detailed assessments of resources. Responses from the Virginia Tech community are vital to the library's deliberations about whether and when to acquire or enhance databases and the like.

As appropriate I will list trials and user survey links a resource trials tab in this and my other libguides.  Entries for trials I may include in the body of my libguides will go away when the trial period ends.