US Studies


Bethan Davies, Vere Harmsworth Librarian
tel: +44 (0)1865 282701

Collection overview

The University's US History collections aim to provide primary and secondary source materials from the earliest colonial period to contemporary history for research and teaching purposes. The topical coverage includes political, economic, social, religious, constitutional, diplomatic and cultural history as well as historiography.

Collection Policy for US Studies.

Libraries and reading rooms

Principal collections

The University's principal research collections relating to US History is housed in the Vere Harmsworth Library. The VHL has comprehensive collections, spanning largely from the earliest colonial period to contemporary history, and represent an outstanding collection of books, journals, newspapers, government publications and a growing collection of microfilm and online resources. Materials on national history are further supported by journals and newsletters of local historical societies. Regional history is well covered for the 13 original states. 

The Library’s holdings of 200,000+ titles are particularly strong in colonial history, American Revolution, Early Republic, slavery and secession, Lincoln and the Civil War, the Progressive Era, New Deal, 1960s and 70s America. The Library's collection policy also seeks to make acquisitions in areas which transcend specific chronological periods, for example in the history of racism, religion, education, foreign relations, immigration, the exploration of western region, African American protest and culture, and the growth of the state. 

The Vere Harmsworth Library's reference copies are supported by lending copies for teaching purposes in the History Faculty Library.

Special collections

Manuscript material relating to the history of the US is usually housed in the Rhodes House Library or the Special Collections Department, Bodleian Library. They include notably the historic archive of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and the papers of the (British) Anti-Slavery Society.

The major modern political collections in the Bodleian include the papers of three British ambassadors to the US, Sir John Crampton, 1848-53, Sir James Bryce, 1907-13, and Roger Mellor Makins, 1st Baron Sherfield, 1953-6 (see Online Catalogues of Western Manuscripts).

Associated collections

Slavery (Rhodes House Library and the History Faculty Library)

American literature (Bodleian Library and the English Faculty Library)

US Legal history (Bodleian Law Library)

Political and social aspects of the US (Social Science Library)

Archives & rare books (Rhodes House Library and the Bodleian Library)

Important e-resources

Electronic resources for history increasingly focus on primary source material (early priinted books, historical newspapers, etc.) and bibliographical databases. They are available online with a full list appearing in OxLIP+.

Bibliographic databases

  • America: History & Life

Primary Sources

  • Colonial State Papers
  • Early American Imprints, Ser. I, 1638-1800 (Evans)
  • North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories
  • North American Women's Letters and Diaries
  • US Congressional Serial Set 1817-1994
  • Confidential Print: North America 1824-1961
  • Declassified Documents Reference System (DDRS)
  • Digital National Security Archive (DNSA)

Historical Newspapers

  • 19th Century US Newspapers
  • American Periodicals Series, 1740-1900
  • New York Times Historical Archive, 1851-2004
  • Washington Post, 1877-1991
  • Chicago Defence 1905-1975


  • American National Biography (ANB)
  • Historical Statistics of the US

Electronic journals

Most key history journals are now available electronically, include those available via History Co-operative, JSTOR, OUP, etc. A full listing of e-journals is available in Oxford University e-Journals.

Other links

Iwo Jima Memorial
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