Primary Sources: Sabin Americana, 1500-1926

cover of book:Sabin Americana, 1500-1926, is a digital collection of the titles included in Joseph Sabin’s bibliography: Bibliotheca Americana: A Dictionary of Books Relating to America from Its Discovery to  the Present Time. It contains more than 65,000 works of different types — sermons, political tracts, newspapers, books, pamphlets, maps, legislation, and literature — from North, Central, and South America, and the West Indies.

Topics covered include:

  • Discovery and exploration of the Americas — accounts from British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and Danish explorers and adventurers
  • Colonization — features both American and European views and firsthand accounts of colonial life
  • Slavery — memoirs, original speeches, lectures, sermons, discourses, reports to legislatures across America, pamphlets, books, and international essays
  • Cities and states — the social and political evolution of America’s major cities and states
  • Civil War — a wide array of memoirs, political tracts, published legislative proceedings, and broadsides
  • Reconstruction — records that describe the reorganization and re-establishment of the seceded states in the Union after the Civil War
  • American women — education, civil rights, domestic life, and employment
  • Native Americans — essays, booklets, treaties, land tracts, congressional speeches, journals, and letters that document social attitudes and personal experiences
  • Immigration — pamphlets, broadsides, speeches, articles, and books
  • Constitution — pamphlets, letters, speeches, and essays provide detailed information about the early political organization of the American colonies


Primary Sources: Victorian Popular Culture

During the last year The Library acquired the digital archive Victorian Popular Culture, which consists of four thematic collections.

Frederick Bancroft, Prince of Magicians

Spiritualism, Sensation, and Magic “explores the relationship between the popularity of Victorian magic shows and conjuring tricks and the emergence of séances and psychic phenomena in Britain and America. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw an explosion of interest in the occult, and the foundation of a new religious movement, Spiritualism.”1

Circus animals

Circuses, Sideshows, and Freaks includes rare books, children’s literature, and celebrity memoirs and “focuses on the world of travelling entertainment, which brought spectacle to vast audiences across Britain, America and Europe in the 19th and early 20th century. From big tops to carnivals, fairgrounds and dime museums, it covers the history of popular shows and exhibitions from both audience and professional perspectives.”2

Music hall photo

Music Hall, Theatre, and Popular Entertainment covers pantomime, exhibitions, pleasure gardens, and a wide range of other types of public entertainment and spectacles.

Scene from Buster Keaton film

Moving Pictures, Optical Entertainments, and the Advent of Cinema covers optical entertainments from the 18th to early 20th century. The collection includes digital clips of original archival footage dating back to 1894.

The documents are categorized as printed material and visual material. All print materials are full-text searchable and visual material and manuscripts are keyword indexed. Search results are sorted by relevance by default, but can be sorted by author, date, and document type, and can be filtered to limit to visual or printed material.

The materials included were sources from multiple archives, including:

  • Senate House Library, University of London: The Harry Price Library of Magical Literature 
  • Senate House Library, University of London: The Malcolm Morley Collection
  • Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin 
  • National Fairground Archive, University of Sheffield 
  • Vauxhall Gardens Collection, Lambeth Archives 
  • The May Moore Duprez Archive 
  • The British Library 
  • The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum 
  • British Film Institute National Archive


Primary Sources: American West and American Indian Histories and Cultures

Key collections of the Newberry Library have been digitized by Adam Matthew Digital. The descriptions below come from their website.

American West is a wide-ranging digital resource presenting a unique insight into the history of the development of the West as well as its enduring legacies. From the earliest, pioneering expeditions that discovered and mapped the West to the growth of industry and settlements, through a range of rare and important documents it is possible to explore the commercial, cultural and social factors that made the West what it was and is. Through items such as maps, manuscripts, journals, rare printed books, periodicals, photographs and more, the appeal of the ‘wild’ West to explorers, emigrants and workers is brought to life, as shifting epochs brought new opportunities and challenges in a rapidly changing country. The development of the popular image of the West can be charted with material depicting the ‘Wild West’ shows, famous outlaws and pioneer personalities, while the clash of cultures that was often a feature of life in the burgeoning United States is represented through a wealth of documents relating to the Mormon exodus and Native American contact.

American Indian Histories and Cultures presents material from the Newberry Library’s Edward E. Ayer Collection, an extensive archival collection on American Indian history. The content ranges from early contacts with European settlers through the expanded occupation of the American west, up through the Indian political movements of the mid-20th century. The collection covers a wide geographic area with a primary focus on North America and Mexico.

The American West and American Indian Histories and Cultures collections are fully cross-searchable.

Primary Sources: Missouri Over There

Over There: Missouri & the Great War is a statewide collaborative digitization project to document Missouri’s role in World War I. The digital collection of historical documents, photographs, artifacts, oral histories and other material has been sourced from museums, archives, libraries, and private collections from across Missouri.

This site can now be found on the History: America library research guide. 

Trial: Digital resources related to Civil Rights, Japanese-American Relocation, Farm Workers, and Native Americans

The Library has set up trial access to evaluate four digital collections:

Ralph J. Bunche Oral Histories Collection on the Civil Rights Movement
National Farm Worker Ministry: Mobilizing Support for Migrant Workers, 1939-1985
Fight for Racial Justice and the Civil Rights Congress
Japanese-American Relocation Camp Newspapers: Perspectives on Day-to-Day Life

These are all part of a resource called Archives Unbound from Gale Cengage. The company was not able to set up a trial for just these four resources, so all of the collections are available to view.

Available via the same link is another trial resource, Indigenous Peoples: North America, which covers the history of American Indian tribes and supporting organizations. The collection includes sources from American and Canadian institutions, tribal newspapers, and Indian-related organizations. The collection also features Indigenous language materials, including dictionaries, Bibles, and primers.

I am particularly interested in your feedback on the resources listed above, but if you see other collections of interest, let me know and I’ll put them on my wish list.
Trial access ends 3/17/16.

Primary Sources: Update to Declassified Documents Reference System

Declassified Documents Reference System is now called U.S. Declassified Documents Online. The resource has a new interface, additional search and annotation features, and additional content that includes selected records up to 2008.

A new feature allows you to graph either the frequency of your search term (the number of documents per year in which it appears) or its popularity (the percent of the total documents each year in which it appears). This of course only reflects the frequency or popularity of the term in the universe of documents that are contained in this database, which is not a comprehensive collection of declassified documents.


Primary Sources: Colonial State Papers

The Library has acquired Colonial State Papers, a joint venture of ProQuest and the National Archives (UK) that resulted in the digitization of the Colonial Office Collection 1, Privy Council and related bodies: America and West Indies, Colonial Papers.  It contains thousands of papers that were presented to the Privy Council and the Board of Trade between 1574-1757, and which relate to England’s governance of, and activities in, the American, Canadian and West Indian colonies.

Included in this database is the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial: North America and the West Indies 1574-1739, a bibliographic tool providing over 40,000 descriptive records. The Calendar covers not only CO 1, but also documents from many other collections relating to the colonial past. Many of the bibliographic entries in The Calendar of State Papers, Colonial: North America and the West Indies 1574-1739 are supplemented with full transcriptions, extracts or summary abstracts, all of which can be searched in Colonial State Papers.

The search box defaults to searching both Colonial State Papers and the Calendar, but it is possible to limit your search to just items that have been digitized, and those documents can be downloaded as images or PDFs. Each record also has a durable URL that can be linked to from bCourses or a website.
The quality of the scanned images is very high, which helps with the fact that the original documents and hand-written, and sometimes stained, damaged, or faded. Tools built into the database will allow you to zoom in to see detail.
example of zoom feature in database

Primary Sources: Additional records of and related to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to Foreign Parts

Additional materials related to the USPG contained in British Online Archives.

Archives of the Associates of Dr Bray to 1900
The body of records consists primarily of correspondence files, minute books and financial reports for the institution established by Dr Thomas Bray and his associates. It includes:  
– Administrative records and letters of the Associates   
– Printed books in the archive   
– Rules and reports of the Associates
– Correspondence and records for schools in America
– Correspondence and records concerning the school in the Bahamas
– Correspondence on the establishment of schools in Canada
– General correspondence and records of the Associates

Journal, annual sermons and reports of the SPG, 1701-1870
This collection offers a range of documents which reveal details of the lives the missionaries of the USPG really led. Starting with the formation of the USPG by Royal Charter in 1701, the reports, letters, minutes and accounts of places like Canada in the eighteenth to nineteenth century inform the reader about the colonists’ attitudes and perceptions of American and other colonies during this period. Several documents in this collection feature commentary, directly or indirectly, on relations between the colonizers and the first nations such as the Iroquois and Algonquians. It includes:
– Founding documents of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts
– Journal of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts
– Appendix to SPG Journal
– Annual sermons and reports of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, 1701-1845

Records of the Committee on Women’s Work 1861-1967
First an autonomous body linked with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, in 1895 this became an organization more closely tied with the SPG, and in 1904 an SPG Committee for Women’s Work was established. This digital collection currently comprises approximately two thirds of the records relating to the Committee on Women’s Work stored at Rhodes House Library, Oxford. It includes:
– Ladies’ Association for the Promotion of Female Education 1861-1895
– Womens’ Missionary Association, c1895-1904
– SPG Committee for Womens’ Work, 1904-1967
– Miscellaneous items, 1866-1960

Primary Sources: Records of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts

The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) (now named the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) was organized after Rev. Dr. Thomas Bray visited the American Colonies and found the Anglican Church there in disarray. He obtained a charter from King William III in 1701 to establish SPG as an organization authorized to send priests and schoolteachers to America to minister to the colonists and to “take the message of the gospel to the slaves and native Americans.”1

The SPG quickly expanded into the West Indies, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and West Africa, and in the 19th century into India and South Africa. The Library’s access to British Online Archives includes a significant collection of SPG records from all of these locations.

American Material in the archives of the USPG, 1635-1812 Includes:
– letter books kept by the secretaries of the societies, consisting of copies of letters and papers from and to the missionaries appointed by the SPG to the American colonies and also from the colonial governors, private persons and churchwardens. Many of the originals are no longer extant.
– Index volumes for the letter books
– Published accounts of two early SPG missionaries to America
– Supplementary material from 1821-1828, which includes three volumes of copies of the most important letters (i.e., those read before the Society) and sent.

Australian records in the USPG archiveFiles relating to the establishment of the Society’s activities in the province of the Anglican Church of Australia and the development of an organization to support them. Includes:
– Unbound documents, subdivided by diocese: Adelaide, Melbourne, North Queensland, Perth, Sydney, and Tasmania.
– SPG Chapliancy services to emigrants, 1821-1864
– Copies of letters received and sent (from and to the Society in London)
– Indices to the Australian records

New Zealand & Polynesian records in the USPG archive Records relating to the early history of the Anglican Church in New Zealand and Polynesia. Includes:
– Files from the Melanesia Diocese, 1838-1958
– Files from the New Zealand Diocese, 1838-1875
– Copies of letters received and sent (to and from the Society in London)
– Indices to the New Zealand province records

Canadian Records in the USPG Archive, 1722-1952These papers chart the development of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel from its early days in Canada until its decline there. The majority of the reports included here are in fact narrative accounts submitted by members of the clergy working in various locations across Canada. Includes:
– Records relating to New Brunswick 1783-1857
– Records relating to Fredericton 1844-1860
– Records relating to Quebec 1793-1860
– Records relating to Montreal to c1860
– Records relating to Upper Canada 1788-1859
– Records relating to Toronto to c1860
– Records relating to Nova Scotia to c1860
– General records relating to Canada 1785-1864
– Reports for Canada, 1901-1950

Early Colonial and Missionary Records from West Africa
This resource comprises selected documents from microfilm collections, including: early Gold Coast records from the archives of the USPG; the papers of Thomas Perronet Thompson, the first Governor of the Colony of Sierra Leone; An account of two missionary voyages by Rev. Thomas Thompson; the letters of Rev. Philip Quaque, etc.

Gold Coast records from the archives of the USPG, 1886-1951
The period from 1903 onward is the most substantially documented in this collection. Records relating to the first 150 years are reproduced in both the Early colonial and missionary records from West Africa and the West Indies material in the archives of the USPG, 1710-1950. Includes:
– Copies of letters sent and received
– Committee of Women’s Work Correspondence
– Original letters from abroad, 1899-1933
– Missionary reports, 1906-1933
– Miscellaneous Gold Coast Papers, 1886-1951

South African archives of the USPG
United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel began its labors at the Cape of South Africa in 1821, the western division being occupied in that year and the eastern division in 1830. This collection from the Archives of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, dates from their earliest connection with South Africa. Includes records for Capetown, Grahamstown, Natal, St Johns – Kaffaria, and Zululand.

West Indies material in the archives of the USPG, 1710-1950
– Records from 1714-1908, divided into eight sections: the general archives and those appertaining to the Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua and the Leeward Islands, Trinidad, British Guiana and Honduras (Central America and the Mosquito coast).
– Copies of letters sent and received
– The Codrington Collection, 1704-1898
– Quarterly reports from missionaries, 1901-1950
– Papers of the Barbados Committee, 1710-1842
– Miscellaneous USPG contents

South Asian records of the USPG
– Records beginning around 1770, during the period of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (SPCK), and continue for some years after 1825, when the SPG accepted responsibility for the Danish and English missions in Tamil Nadu, as well as conducting its own work elsewhere in India.
– Copies of letters sent and received (to and from the Society in London)
– Annual reports of missionaries, 1840-1861
– Annual reports of missionaries, 1856-1900
– Selected Sri Lankan material, 1827-1867
– Miscellaneous additional materials

Trial: 3 primary source collections related to U.S. Intelligence

The Library has set up a trial for three primary source collections. The descriptions are from their website.

Cold War Intelligence
This collection of 2,360 formerly classified U.S. government documents (most of them classified Top Secret or higher) provides readers for the first time with the declassified documentary record about the successes and failures of the U.S. intelligence community in its efforts to spy on the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

U.S. Intelligence on the Middle East
Since 1945, the U.S. intelligence community has had to cover a half-dozen major wars and several dozen smaller but equally bloody armed conflicts in the Middle East, as well as innumerable civil wars, border clashes, armed insurgencies, and terrorist attacks. This comprehensive document set sheds light on the U.S. intelligence community’s spying and analytic efforts in the Arab world, including the Middle East, the Near East, and North Africa. It covers the time period from the end of World War II to the present day, up until the 2002-2003 Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) assessments, the Global War on Terror, the Iraq War, and Iran’s nuclear program.

U.S. Intelligence on Europe collection of over 4,000 formerly classified U.S. government documents provides a comprehensive survey of the U.S. intelligence community’s activities in Europe, including Eastern Europe, Turkey and Cyprus, covering the time period from the end of World War II to the fall of the Iron Curtain and beyond.

Video demos are available for Cold War Intelligence:
U.S. Intelligence on the Middle East:

I welcome any feedback you want to provide.
The trial expires October 13.