These websites — all free and available to the public — provide access to a range of primary and secondary sources useful for research into American literature and culture.
Founders Online, a project of the National Archives.
Correspondence and other writings of seven major shapers of the United States: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams (and family), Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. Over 185,000 searchable documents, fully annotated, from the authoritative Founding Fathers Papers projects.
The Ralph Waldo Emerson Society
Founded on 29 December 1989, The Ralph Waldo Emerson Society, Inc. is dedicated to fostering scholarship on and appreciation of the life and writings of one of America’s greatest authors. The Society, which has about 200 members in eleven countries, publishes the biannual Emerson Society Papers (ESP), featuring original scholarly articles, current book reviews, notes and queries, an annual Emerson bibliography, abstracts of conference papers, reflections on “My Emerson,” and announcements of interest to Emersonians.
Digital Thoreau is a collaborative project of the State University of New York at Geneseo, The Thoreau Society, and The Walden Woods Project.
Thoreau went to the woods, he said, to live deliberately. He advised us to read in the same spirit. Digital Thoreau provides tools to illuminate Thoreau’s creative process and facilitate thoughtful conversation about his words and ideas.
Sedgwick Stories: The Periodical Writings of Catharine Maria Sedgwick, directed and edited by Deborah Gussman, Professor of Literature, Stockton University.
This link takes you to a searchable database of stories and sketches by Sedgwick.
The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society, an organization devoted to promoting the study of Sedgwick’s life and writing.
Google Books Advanced Search, by Google.
As part of a massive digitization project, Google has scanned books from university libraries around the world. These books are fully searchable by author, publisher, date, keyword, and more. For copyright reasons, searches for books published before 1922 will be most successful.
Freedom’s Journal, digitised by The Wisconsin Historical Society.
Freedom’s Journal was the first African-American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States. Founded by Rev. Peter Williams, Jr. and other free black men in New York City, it was published weekly as a four-page, four-column newspaper, starting with the March 16, 1827 issue. Freedom’s Journal circulated in 11 states, the District of Columbia, Haiti, Europe, and Canada.
The Liberator, at the Fair Use Repository
This link provides access to issues of The Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper published in Boston by William Lloyd Garrison. The indexing is incomplete, but can be useful for particular searches (i.e., for searching the newspaper’s reaction to David Walker’s Appeal.)
The Making of America, from Cornell University and the University of Michigan
The Making of America Collection is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through Reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. This site provides access to 267 monograph volumes and over 100,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints.
The Mathew Carey Papers, 1785-1859, from the American Antiquarian Society
This database collects the account books — in manuscript form — of publisher Mathew Carey. The ASS offers the following description of Carey: “He came to the United States in 1784 after involvement in Irish revolutionary activities and took up his trade as a printer, publishing the Pennsylvania Herald and the periodical, The American Museum. His book publishing ventures prospered and his firm was a leader in American printing and publishing in the period 1795 to 1835. Carey was an active proponent of the protective tariff, as well as an ardent champion of oppressed minorities in Europe, especially after his retirement from business in 1821. His business was thereafter conducted by his son, Henry C. Carey (1793-1879).” The database is searchable by name, or browseable by page. Be careful here, however. Carey published Susana Rowson’s popular novel, Charlotte Temple (1791/1794), but all records of that novel are cataloged by the name “Rowson, William,” because financial matters were conducted in the name of the author’s husband.
Melville’s Marginalia, eds. Steven Olsen-Smith, Peter Norberg, and Dennis C. Marnon
Melville’s Marginalia Online is an electronic catalog of books owned and borrowed by US author Herman Melville, and a digital edition of marked and annotated books that survive from his library.
The 1925 Virtual Newsstand, by David Earle, University of West Florida
This is an ongoing class project led by Professor David M. Earle at the University of West Florida. The Web site allows users to browse a hypothetical newsstand from 1925, and it includes extensive information about each publication.
The North American Imprints Program, from the American Antiquarian Society
The North American Imprints Program combines and corrects older bibliographies to create a complete list of known imprints published in British North America and the early United States. These are bibliographic listings. To actually get access to copies of these texts, a good starting place will be the Early American Imprints databases (available through the NDSU library). NAIP can answer important questions, though. For instance, NAIP can answer questions about how many editions a particular book went through, over how many years.
The Walt Whitman Archive, from the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The Walt Whitman Archive is an electronic research and teaching tool that sets out to make Whitman’s vast work, for the first time, easily and conveniently accessible to scholars, students, and general readers. Whitman, America’s most influential poet and one of the four or five most innovative and significant writers in United States history, is the most challenging of all American authors in terms of the textual difficulties his work presents. He left behind an enormous amount of written material, and his major life work, Leaves of Grass, went through six very different editions, each of which was issued in a number of formats, creating a book that is probably best studied as numerous distinct creations rather than as a single revised work. His many notebooks, manuscript fragments, prose essays, letters, and voluminous journalistic articles all offer key cultural and biographical contexts for his poetry. The Archive sets out to incorporate as much of this material as possible, drawing on the resources of libraries and collections from around the United States and around the world. The Archive is directed by Matt Cohen (University of Nebraska–Lincoln), Ed Folsom (University of Iowa), and Kenneth M. Price (University of Nebraska–Lincoln).
The Emily Dickinson Archive, Leslie A. Morris, Houghton Library, Harvard University, General Editor.
Emily Dickinson Archive (EDA) provides high-resolution images of manuscripts of Dickinson’s poetry, along with transcriptions and annotations from selected historical and scholarly editions. This first release focuses on gathering images of those poems included in The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition, edited by R. W. Franklin (Cambridge: Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, 1998). These manuscripts vary from “scraps” written on envelope flaps and pieces of wrapping paper; to drafts; to finished poems sent to friends or copied into the manuscript books called “fascicles.”
The Kate Chopin International Society, co-edited by Bernard Koloski (Mansfield University) and Heather Ostman (State University of New York: Westchester Community College).
KateChopin.org provides a network for scholars interested in Kate Chopin, and it acts as a bridge between scholars and students, teachers, librarians, journalists, playwrights, filmmakers, translators, book club members, bloggers, podcast hosts, and other people in the United States and in countries around the world. It is an informational site, an educational site, dedicated to the reading and study of Kate Chopin’s fiction. It seeks to provide accurate information about Chopin and her work in a form accessible to a large audience!
Colored Conventions Project, Center for Black Digital Research, The Pennsylvania State University.
The Colored Conventions Project (CCP) is a scholarly and community research project dedicated to bringing the seven decades-long history of nineteenth-century Black organizing to digital life. Mirroring the collective nature of the nineteenth-century Colored Conventions. CCP uses innovative, inclusive models and partnerships to locate, transcribe, and archive the documentary record related to this nearly forgotten history and to curate digital exhibits that highlight its stories, events and themes.
The Classroom Electric, U.S. Dept of Education
The Classroom Electric is a constellation of web sites on Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and nineteenth-century American culture. Here users can explore images of original manuscripts, rare photographs, notebooks, scrapbooks, letters, and maps in sites informed by cutting-edge scholarship. While each site works as a stand-alone case study useful to students and teachers, the sites also link to each other, to other resources, and to the Dickinson Electronic Archives and the Walt Whitman Archive.