American History Collections

This list is a small selection of the books on American history available in the Special Collections. The list is arranged chronologically roughly following the time periods used in the Library's catalog. Each entry gives author, title, publication data and call mark. You may scroll down to see the entire list, or click on any time period to jump to that section of the list. For a similar list arranged by subject, click here.

 

European discovery and exploration

Casas, Bartholomé de las, 1474-1566.
An account of the first voyages and discoveries made by the Spaniards in America, containing the most exact relation hitherto publish'd of their unparallel'd cruelties on the Indians, in the destruction of above forty millions of people ; with the propositions offer'd to the King of Spain to prevent the further ruin of the West-Indies. London : printed by J. Darby for D. Brown, 1699.
call number: F 1411 C42513

This is a translation of portions of Las Casas' work "Brevísima relación de la destruycion de las Indias..." written in 1542. In was an influential and controversial work in which Las Casas decried the enslavement of the natives by the Spanish landowners as contrary to Christian teaching. The work was frequently printed and widely translated (including Dutch 1578, French 1630, English 1650 and Italian 1643).
In 1944 historian Rómulo Carbia linked Las Casas' work to the "black legend", that body of work which portrays the Spanish as uniquely cruel, bigoted and ignorant. Carbia felt that Las Casas had exaggerated the brutality of the Spanish in order to advance his own agenda, and in so doing had provided Spain's enemies with an excellent source of propaganda. Whatever the truth, Las Casas spent the last forty years of his life trying to improve the conditions of the native inhabitants in the lands under Spanish control, both through advocating changes in the law and through exhortation and example.

Le Moyne de Morgues, Jacques, d. 1588.
Brevis narratio eorvm qvae in Florida Americae provicia Gallis acciderunt, secunda in illam nauigatione, duce Renato de Laudoniere classis pr‘fecto: anno MDLXIIII. Qvae est secvnda pars Americae ... ; nunc primùm Gallico sermone à Theodoro de Brÿ Leodiense in lucem edita; Latio verò donata a C.C.A. Francoforti ad Moenum : typis Ioanis Wecheli, sumtibus vero T. de Brÿ, venales reperiutur in officina S. Feirabedii, 1591 [i.e., 1609]
call number: F83A +9L54

 

Colonial period

Ogilby, John, 1600-1676.
America : being the latest, and most accurate description of the New world : containing ... the conquest of the vast empires of Mexico and Peru, and other large provinces and territories, with the several European plantations in those parts : also, their cities, fortresses, towns, temples, mountains, and rivers : their habits, customs, manners, and religions ... London : printed by the author ... , 1671.
call number: E 143 O33 1671b X-Folio

Burke, Edmund, 1729-1797.
An account of the European settlements in America : in six parts. I. A short history of the discovery of that part of the world. II. The manners and customs of the original inhabitants. III. Of the Spanish settlements. IV. Of the Portuguese. V. Of the French, Dutch, and Danish. VI. Of the English. London : printed for R. and J. Dodsley, 1757.
call number: E 143 B96 1757 v.1-2

Rogers, Robert, 1731-1795
A concise account of North America: containing a description of the several British colonies on that continent, including the islands of Newfoundland, Cape Breton, &c. Also of the interior, or westerly parts of the country, upon the rivers St. Laurence, the Mississippi, Christino, and the Great lakes. To which is subjoined, an account of the several nations and tribes of Indians residing in those parts, as to their customs, manners, government, numbers, &c. London : printed for the author, and sold by J. Millan, 1765.
call number: F83A 9R63

Seaver, James E.
Deh-he-wa-mis, or, The narrative of the life of Mary Jemison : otherwise called The white woman, who was taken captive by the Indians in MDCCLV; and who continued with them seventy-eight years ; containing an account of the murder of her father and his family; her marriages and sufferings; Indian barbarities, customs and traditions, carefully taken from her own words. ... Devon : published by S. Thorne ; London : W. Tegg, 1847.
call number: F80V Se19

Seaver wrote this account based on an interview with Mary Jemison held in Nov. 1823, several years before her death. Her parents were Scots-Irish immigrants who settled on the frontier in central Pennsylvania. In 1758, when she was about 16, her family was killed and she was captured by a group of Shawnee and French and taken to the Ohio River. There she was adopted by a Seneca family and became legally and culturally one of them. She remained with the Seneca until her death in 1833. Her descendants, many still bearing the name Jemison, may be found among the Senecas and among other Iroquois tribes. She is the only women signatory to an Iroquois treaty and was personally granted the Gardeau Reservation in New York. This narrative of her life provides a first-hand account of the Seneca and other Iroquois people during a significant period in their history.

 

Revolutionary War and Confederation

An argument in defence of the exclusive right claimed by the colonies to tax themselves : with a review of the laws of England, relative to representation and taxation ; to which is added ... the manner in which the rights of the subjects within the realm were communicated to those that went to America, with the exercise of those rights from their first settlement to the present time. London : printed for the Author, and sold by Brotherton and Sewell, [et al.], 1774.
call number: F83A 9Ar38

Bernard, Francis, Sir, 1712-1779.
Select letters on the trade and government of America : and the principles of law and polity, applied to the American colonies, written ... in the years 1763, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 ... ; to which are added The petition of the assembly of Massachuset's Bay against the governor, his answer thereto, and the order of the king in Council thereon. London : printed for T. Payne, 1774.
call number: F83A 9B456

Boston (Mass.)
An appeal to the world; or, A vindication of the town of Boston, from many false and malicious aspersions contained in certain letters and memorials, written by Governor Bernard, General Gage, Commodore Hood, the commissioners of the American Board of Customs, and others, and by them respectively transmitted to the British ministry. Published by order of the town. Boston : printed by Edes and Gill ; and London : reprinted for J. Almon, 1770.
call number: F83A 9B65

Boston evening post.
Jan. 29, 1770-Nov. 28, 1774 only.
call number: Newspaper

Hamilton, Alexander, 1757-1804.
The Farmer refuted, or, A more impartial and comprehensive view of the dispute between Great-Britain and the colonies, intended as a further vindication of the Congress, in answer to a letter from A.W. Farmer ... New York : Printed by James Rivington, 1775.
call number: F83A 9H18

Macaulay, Catharine, 1731-1791.
An address to the people of England, Scotland, and Ireland, on the present important crisis of affairs. London : Printed by R. Cruttwell ; in Bath, for E. and C. Dilly, 1775.
call number: F83A 9G76

Raynal, abbé, 1713-1796.
Histoire philosophique et politique des établissemens et du commerce des Européens dans les deux Indes. Geneve : J. L. Pellet, 1780.
call number: D 22 R43 1780 v.1,4,7 &10 only

This work, first published in six volumes in 1770, was both anti-royalist and anti-clerical and became increasingly radical in subsequent editions. It was very popular, appearing in 30 editions in 17 years. Although Raynal's name appears as the author, scholars believe that Diderot actually wrote many passages. In 1774 the Histoire was placed on the Catholic Church's Index librorum prohibitorum (Index of forbidden books) and ordered burned in 1781. The first English translation, Philosophical and political history of the settlements and trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies, appeared in 1776.

Serle, Ambrose, 1742-1812.
Americans against liberty, or, An essay on the nature and principles of true freedom, shewing that the designs and conduct of the Americans tend only to tyranny and slavery. London : sold by J. Mathews, 1775.
call number: F83A 9Se6

 

ca. 1790-1861

Bartlett, Elisha, 1804-1855.
A vindication of the character and condition of the females employed in the Lowell mills, against the charges contained in the Boston times, and the Boston quarterly review. Lowell : L. Huntress, printer, 1841.
call number: F83A 9B3

The mill workers in Lowell Massachusetts were a subject of considerable interest in the second quarter of the 19th century.

Cherokee advocate.
Sept. 26, 1844-Sept. 24, 1846 only.
call number: Newspaper

Written in either English or Cherokee, the Cherokee advocate was published in Tahlequah Oklahoma from 1844 to 1906 with the endorsement of the Cherokee National Council. Willard Walker in the Handbook of North American Indians writes that "native literacy is something of a rarity among American Indians"; even rarer are examples of languages, such as Cherokee, which are written without the use of the Latin alphabet.
Many of Mount Holyoke's 19th-century graduates became Christian missionaries; some went to other countries, some worked with Native American groups in the United States. The issues of the Cherokee advocate that we own were given to us by one of these missionaries.

Hartford Convention (1814-1815 : Hartford, Conn.)
The proceedings of a convention of delegates, from the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island; the counties of Cheshire and Grafton, in the state of New Hampshire; and the county of Windham, in the state of Vermont : convened at Hartford, in the state of Connecticut, December 15th, 1814. Hartford : printed by Charles Hosmer, 1815.
call number: F83A 9H253

Kemble, Fanny, 1809-1893.
Journal of a residence on a Georgian plantation in 1838-1839. New York : Harper & Brothers, 1863.
call number: F83A 9K31j

Martineau, Harriet, 1802-1876.
Society in America. New York : Saunders and Otley, 1837.
call number: F83A 9M338 v.1-2

Martineau, an Englishwoman, was a journalist with the London Daily news and gained fame for her work on economics Illustrations of political economy. She held radical views on economics, politics, feminism, and society in general. Society in America is an analytic look at Jacksonian America written following a two-year journey through the country from Sept. 1834 to July 1836.

Stephens, John Lloyd, 1805-1852.
Incidents of travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan. London : John Murray, 1841.
call number: F 1432 S83 1841 v.1-2

Stephens' work was the first to describe the Mayan ruins in the Yucatán, particularly at Copán.

 

The War Between the States, 1861-1865

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 1823-1911.
Army life in a black regiment. Boston : Fields, Osgood & Co., 1870.
call number: E 492.94 33d H5

Higginson was a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts who began to be involved in abolition and woman's rights as a young man. When the Civil War began, he helped to form and train the 51st Massachusetts Regiment of Volunteers and would have marched with that unit if he had not been offered the command of the 1st South Carolina Volunteers. His experiences with the 1st S.C. Volunteers, the first Black regiment in the Union Army, are described in this book. The regiment is said to have fought with notable vigor and valor.
In addition to his work with reformist causes, Higginson wrote books and articles on contemporary authors, and was one of the editors of Emily Dickinson's poems after her death.

Hawes, Joel, 1789-1867.
North and South, or, Four questions considered: What have we done? What have we to do? What have we to hope? What have we to fear? : a sermon preached in the First Church in Hartford, on the day of the national fast, Sept. 26th, 1861. Hartford : Press of Case, Lockwood and Company, 1861.
call number: E 458.1 H37

Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave-Trade.
Constitution of a society for abolishing the slave-trade : with several acts of the legislatures of the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, for that purpose. Providence : printed by J. Carter, 1789.
call number: F83A 9P95

One of the earliest New England organizations dedicated to the abolition of the slave-trade, among their guiding principles were the "obligations of Christianity, to extend, by the use of such means as are or may be in their power, the blessings of freedom to the whole human race ... and in a more particular manner to such of their fellow-creatures as by the laws and constitution of the United States are entitled to their freedom, and who by fraud or violence are or may be detained in bondage".

 

1900-1945

[Why women do not want the ballot]
call number: JF 853 W32

A collection of 60 pamphlets published between 1884 and 1903 giving reasons why suffrage should not be given to women. Titles include: Why I am opposed to woman suffrage by Jeanette L. Gilder; Preamble and protest of the Brooklyn Auxiliary of the New York State Association Opposed to the Extension of Suffrage to Women; and The new woman and the late president of Williams by Charles C. Nott.

National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Political equality leaflets. [Ohio : Published by the Association].
call number: JK 1901 P6 Min.

A collection of 13 pamphlets published between 1900 and 1910 giving reasons why suffrage should be given to women. Titles include: The division of labor by Alice Stone Blackwell; The "unanswerable" argument by Mrs. Lida Calvert Obenchain; and Miss Thomas on woman's ballot by M. Carey Thomas.

[Pamphlets relating to women in the United States Armed Forces in World War II]
call number: UB 418 W65 P3 Folio

A collection of 35 pamphlets, chiefly published by government agencies, on various aspects of women's service in the United States military between 1942 and 1945. Most of the pamphlets relate to the WAVES (Women's Naval Reserves) or the WACs (Women's Army Corps).