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Archive of Americana

Virtually every aspect of U.S. history, culture and daily life across three centuries
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The acclaimed Archive of Americana enables students and scholars to explore virtually every aspect of United States history, culture and daily life across three centuries. Providing unprecedented online access to newspapers, books, broadsides, ephemera, government publications and more, the Archive of Americana puts tens of millions of pages of primary documents at researchers' fingertips. Allowing cross-collection searching, Archive of Americana collections offer fully searchable facsimile images, superior authority-based indexing, bibliographic records and PDFs that can be quickly downloaded and printed.

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Reviews & Accolades

“Readex has been busy digitizing US historical resources ever since releasing Early American Imprints Series I: Evans, 1639–1800 and Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801–1819. These curated modules—each available for purchase separately—have grown into the Archive of Americana, now comprising more than 40 collections of monographs, periodicals, newspapers, government publications, broadsides, and other ephemera spanning four centuries. While approximately one-third of the individual collections organized into several larger thematic or format-based sets have not yet been completed, the archive now totals well over a half-million titles and pages numbering in the tens of millions, with coverage particularly strong for the 18th- and 19th-century period….

“Readex’s Archive of Americana…provides invaluable, virtually unprecedented access….Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through professionals/practitioners; general readers.”
— R. A. Aken, University of Kentucky in Choice (July 2017)

“For the past several years Readex...has been greatly expanding and augmenting its premier digital product line, the Archive of Americana, by adding new resources and modules such as historical ethnic newspapers, thematic collections such as the American Civil War primary sources, additions to the historical government publications, and new collections of books, pamphlets, and other printed ephemera to complement its American Historical Imprints book sets.”
— David D. Oberhelman, Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, Edmon Low Library, Oklahoma State in Reference Reviews, Volume 26, Issue 8

"This family of historical collections contains books, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, government documents, and ephemera printed in America over three centuries. Collections include digital reproductions with searchable full text, giving researchers access to early American history through the advertisements, Bibles, broadsides, catalogs, speeches, literature, and more. A well-designed and integrated interface also facilitates an easy search/browse as a single collection or full-text searches across multiple collections..."
Reference 2009: Supplement to Library Journal

"...a goldmine of early American primary resources available at your fingertips."
Barbara Miller, Oklahoma State University in Reference Reviews (2008)

"Hundreds of thousands of documents spanning four centuries of American history are available in this large archive. Broadsides, ephemera, pamphlets, and booklets are available from 1639 to 1900. More than 1,300 newspaper titles, representing all fifty states, range in date from 1690 to 1922. U.S. Senate and House of Representatives reports, journals, and other documents are available from 1817 to 1980. Legislative and executive documents from the Early Republic are also included. The entire body of documents is keyword searchable, and, in addition, each collection can be searched and browsed individually. These documents shed light on many aspects of American social, political, economic, and cultural history, and can provide a valuable window into the daily lives of early Atlantic peoples. The collection of broadsides and ephemera is especially useful for exploring the history of printing in the United States, as all titles can be browed by bookseller, printer, or publisher." 
—History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web

"The Archive of Americana, produced by Readex in collaboration with the American Antiquarian Society, takes an important step toward integrating alternative non-writing-based textualities into its archive with one relatively simple innovation: the categories that appear on the search page. For example, in Early American Imprints the 'browse by' category of 'genre' includes 'addresses,' 'ballads,' 'hymns,' 'maps,' 'playbills' and 'songsters,' along with 'acrostics,' 'burlesques,' 'catechisms,' 'erotica,' 'hieroglyphic bibles,' 'psalters' and many others. These categories offer an additional level of structure for browsing that allows a user to see the past that the archive represents quite differently from the past on offer by EEBO, ECCO or Sabin Americana. The particularity of the textual forms represented here is much richer and more varied than, for instance, the categories that an advanced search in EEBO allows a user to explore. Additional 'browse by' categories in addition to 'genre' include 'subjects,' 'author,' 'history of printing,' 'place of publication' and 'language,' each with an array of subcategories that offer many different ways of structuring the textual field of early America. …

"The Archive of Americana promises to extend critical attention to the textual forms of early America in at least two major directions. In keeping with the AAS' commitment to history of the book, the archive invites attention to the material properties of texts and the means of their production and dissemination. The images in the archive provide readers with a visual sense of the text as a book or a broadside or a newspaper, even if the tactile and aural qualities are not (yet) represented. What is perhaps more surprising about the archive than its friendliness to print historians is, as I have already suggested, its revelations about early performance cultures. The process of cataloguing the types of printed materials and grouping them into categories makes visible a wide array of performance genres, some familiar, some not; and it helps illustrate the explosive growth of performance in the nineteenth century, at the putative moment of print's triumph over other media. …"
—Sandra M. Gustafson, University of Notre Dame in Early American Literature (June 2006)

"For more than 50 years, Readex has aided librarians and students with their research. … Readex now offers the Archive of Americana, which allows full-text online searching of four primary source collections that are valuable for humanities and social science research. … Bottom Line: Recommended for academic libraries wishing to increase research resources in the humanities and social sciences, particularly in American studies, history, and related disciplines."
—Anna Neatrour, Tufts University Library in Library Journal (May 15, 2005)

"The Archive of Americana collection is setting new standards for digital access and collection organization. The dimensions of time and space for genealogy researchers are greatly altered and improved by providing a unique collection of resources and tools that reveal many pleasant surprises."
—Sharon Sergeant, Director of Programs for the Massachusetts Genealogical Council in Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (June 2005)

"An invaluable research aid that can help students understand history through a broad array of contemporaneous perspectives ranging from regional to international. These perspectives should allow students to develop and use the critical thinking skills that are necessary for understanding historical interpretation and context, as well as the conditions that create historical events. Readex and the American Antiquarian Society should be commended for their creation of theArchive of Americana. It is a major breakthrough in research because it has opened the archival gates to a new generation of eager high school historians."
—W. Dean Eastman and Barbara Skaryd Fecteau, Beverly High School inThe History Teacher (August 2006)

“...along with increased accessibility, the increasingly sophisticated search capabilities of the Archive of Americana allow even beginning students to make their way through unfamiliar texts with a facility and precision that were formerly restricted to only the most experienced scholars.”
— Michael P. Clark, Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Professor of English, University of California, Irvine

“I love putting history on trial in my undergraduate courses. These students still typically think of history as finding, identifying or uncovering a set of hard facts, but, as Hayden White reminds us, history has a subjective dimension—historians construct claims, create narratives, interpret facts, build cases, possess agendas, have pre-dispositions. History is much more interesting than students sometimes think.

“Well, there’s no better place to put history on trial—that is, to experience the role that invention plays in the writing of history—than the massive digital collections in the Archive of Americana.”
— Edward J. Gallagher, Professor of English, Lehigh University 

“Today many relevant primary sources are available online, and some—including several found in the Archive of Americana—challenge widely accepted historical understandings. From these and other resources, I have just completed a comprehensive history of dance in colonial America, covering dance of Native peoples as well as of European and African immigrants....

“Primary sources may seem daunting but they provide much new information. Beginning with references to names, dates, and events found in encyclopedias and history books, students and teachers can search and locate additional and often important details using electronic databases like the Archive of Americana. The hunt is well worth the effort!”
— Kate Van Winkle Keller, Colonial Music Institute and author of Dance and its Music in America, 1528-1789 

“The annual calendar of American public holidays offers a succession of teaching opportunities—none more fecund than the historical cornucopia of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving not only recounts history and legend—of the Pilgrims of 1621—but it has a history of its own—a remarkable story of considerable duration and complexity. For scholars and teachers, the holiday can be a barometer of the astonishing transformation of the United States itself. And students can enrich their understanding of nearly every American era through simple excursions into Thanksgivings past—via broadsides, pamphlets, proclamations, sermons and newspaper stories, accessible online through the Archive of Americana.... A keyword search for “Thanksgiving” in Early American Imprints, American Broadsides and Ephemera or America’s Historical Newspapers can produce thousands of items; more elaborate pairings of terms will generate hundreds more.”
— Matthew Dennis, Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies, University of Oregon 

“Important figures in the distribution of information in Colonial America were the post riders who carried both mail and printed materials. Because many postmasters were also printers, they relied heavily on these horseback-riding carriers to deliver the mail as well as the labors of their presses....By using the Archive of Americana to examine the work of one Colonial postmaster and printer, we can see how this intricate web of communication extended from publisher to publisher.”
— James David Moran, Director of Outreach, American Antiquarian Society 

“Recent access to new scholarly databases has enabled me to pursue an unfinished story I had encountered during my research about the Colfax Massacre of 1873, a racial conflict arising from the Reconstruction-era politics of Louisiana.....Using electronic versions of documents in the Archive of Americana and other new materials, I discovered how the personal drama of Calhoun v. Ryan fit into the larger national history of Reconstruction, including the Congressional election contest known as Newsham v. Ryan....Biographical details about Newsham, who faced Ryan only months into his tenure for November elections, appeared in the testimony of Newsham's brief to the Committee of Elections for the 41st Congress. Unlike Ryan's self-published pamphlet, serendipitously preserved in New York, Newsham's case was printed at the expense of the House of Representatives and included in the Readex digital edition of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set.”
— LeeAnna Keith, author of The Colfax Massacre 

“...the Archive of Americana fosters new interpretations of life and events in the 18th century and opens new horizons for interdisciplinary scholarship.”
— Norman Desmarais, author of Battlegrounds of Freedom, The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in Canada and New England and The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in New York

"Readex's databases transport you through time into 18th- and 19th-century America. The eloquent, cantankerous voices of the young nation come through loud and clear in literally millions of speeches, sermons, editorials and newspaper ads. The most remarkable thing is that just a few years ago, reading many of these publications would have required traveling hundreds of miles to rare-book libraries or waiting weeks for microfilm reels to arrive. Now you can summon them up instantly without getting up from your chair. My own book would not have been the same without Readex." 
— Adam Goodheart, Director, C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, Washington College, and author of 1861: The Civil War Awakening (Knopf, 2011)

"One of the reasons I like teaching at Messiah College is the effort of the library staff to keep up to date on digital databases....This small college in the tiny central Pennsylvania village of Grantham is a great place to study early American history thanks to the willingness of the library to invest in collections such as Early American Imprints and Early American Newspapers. I can't imagine working as an early American historian at Messiah without them.

"I am not alone. Writing at The New York Times, historian Steven Mihm extols the benefits of digitized (and searchable!) databases." 
— John Fea writing in his blog "The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Reflections at the intersection of American history, Christianity, politics, and academic life" (Sept. 13, 2011)

“To tackle this assignment, I deemed it necessary to peruse as many primary sources as possible, especially since Webster’s descendants had done so much to sculpt his public image....I also immersed myself in Webster’s own published words. As the first Webster biographer of the digital age, I could do much of this reading on my own laptop. The online resource The Archive of Americana now features scanned copies of most American newspapers between 1690 and 1922. By searching Webster’s name, I was able to find countless newspaper articles by and about this prolific journalist, including some not mentioned in the six-hundred-page tome A Bibliography of the Writings of Noah Webster, edited by Edwin H. Carpenter (New York, 1958). Likewise, the early American imprints section of the database includes the full text of many of Webster’s books and speeches, such as his various Independence Day orations and his 1806 ‘compend.’” 
— Joshua Kendall, author of The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster’s Obsession and the Creation of American Culture (Putnam, 2011)

“I cannot tell you how much the Readex historical databases have helped me over the years in my research and writing. Early American Imprints and Early American Newspapers have become integral to the way in which I write and conceptualize. And the new Supplements from the Library Company will be another valuable addition to the Archive of Americana.

“As much as I cannot think of writing without a word processor, it is impossible for me to envision historical research before Readex's digital editions. These collections are especially crucial for scholars working from outside of the United States.” 
— Dr. Eran Shalev, Department of History, Haifa University, Israel

"The Archive of Americana is superb and has eliminated for me the countless miles of travel and slow, tedious searches that were once necessary to access the important material encompassed by it." 
—F. Christopher Tahk, Professor Emeritus, Art Conservation Department, Buffalo State

“It has become commonplace to say that each new electronic resource will change the way we know the world. Well, this one truly will. Readex's digital editions of Early American Newspapers and Early American Imprints have the power to fundamentally reshape our understanding of early America. Students will be able to access the life and literature of the distant past from the comfort of their libraries and dorm rooms. And even scholars who have worked for decades in the printed corpus of the Americas before 1800 will find hidden treasures as they explore familiar sources in these meticulous, full-text, machine-searchable editions.” 
—Jane Kamensky, Associate Professor of History, Brandeis University

“The Readex Archive of Americana is an extraordinary family of digital research collections, indispensable to a solid program in early American history. Early American Imprints, Series I brings the mother lode of primary source material from colonial and Revolutionary America to one's electronic fingertips. These imprints, along with the Archive’s other valuable collections, vastly expand an institution’s capacity for early American research by students and faculty. Graduate and undergraduate students can now write papers awash with rich, original sources, inevitably leading to many more-and better-theses and dissertations. Without these collections, I would cry.”
—Bruce Daniels, Professor of History, University of Texas at San Antonio

“As a scholar I've largely gravitated toward research that demands a needle-in-a-haystack approach-it's been both a delight and a curse. These new digital collections from Readex help remove that curse and open a world of resources for close textual analysis of elusive materials. And the remote access offered by the digitized Early American Imprints and Early American Newspapers makes the study of distant texts and contexts accessible in an astonishing and unprecedented way. Students too will profit, as they are empowered to do research-even from Oregon, three thousand miles from Worcester, Massachusetts-that will take them into heart of early American life and letters.

“Teaching a course on the history of American patriotism, I had students do a simple search. They were astonished at what they turned up on 'patriot' and 'patriotism' for the colonial period and early republic-odd poems and elegies, songs and sermons, antique disquisitions that seemed strangely prescient. If primary sources are the thing to excited students-as historians themselves have been excited since the beginning of history-then these resources are unbeatable!"
—Matthew Dennis, Professor of History, University of Oregon

“Readex’s new web-based Archive of Americana, including Early American Imprints (1639-1819) and Newspapers (1690-1876), is more than another tool for access to primary sources. Its historical breadth and depth represent a revolutionary advance for all scholars and students of American history. Never before could specific subjects and topics be located, identified, and organized with such ease and sophistication in such a large historical collection of print and image material.

“Working extensively with the advanced search capabilities of the digital Archive, I personally have had immediate access to thousands of original documents in hundreds of dedicated searches-making possible an intense level of productivity in my current project not possible earlier with microfiche cards. Researchers, teachers, and students with Web access literally do not need to leave their home institution without this all-important resource. Quality, power, and relevance appropriately describe the significance of Readex's achievement.”
—Burt Bledstein, Professor of History Emeritus, University of Illinois at Chicago

“The Archive of Americana databases collectively are a research tool more powerful than anything historical researchers of early America have ever possessed. Once the word is out, it is almost certain to change the way scholarship in this field is done.

“Digital Early American Imprints opens for full-text searches by students and faculty virtually every known book and pamphlet published in America before 1820, making possible for the first time thorough research in the era of Thomas Jefferson.”
—Jeffrey L. Pasley, Associate Professor of History, University of Missouri-Columbia

“Quite simply, the Readex digital Archive of Americana is one of the most significant innovations in the study of American print culture. At a time when commentators and politicians tend to misquote the rhetoric of Revolutionary America, the digital Early American Imprints (Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker) andEarly American Newspapers promote not only unsurpassed access to early texts but also new and unique fields of rhetorical studies.

“In a matter of minutes, students and scholars can conduct primary research in countless areas of cultural significance that would have taken months, if not years, before digitization. With a few keystrokes, comprehensive databases can be created, bringing together a rich and surprising array of textual references, and the written representations of all manner of terms, issues, concepts, objects, and events can be studied with exceptional accuracy. Readex's digital collections represent a major breakthrough in the study of early American print culture.”
—Daniel E. Williams, Chair and Professor of English, Texas Christian University

“With its search tools, the Archive of Americana has revolutionized research using early American printed sources. No scholar can make generalizations with confidence without using the search features of the Readex Archive, unless the generalizations are limited to the specific texts the scholar has read.

“Some years ago I gave a paper on sermons on liberty on the eve of American Independence. I compiled the database by looking for sermons on Galatians 5:1 in all the sermons listed in the microform edition of Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800 for the years 1775-1776. Although this was pretty good for the time, it would now be out of date, because using your Archive I could search all the actual sermons (not just the ones on Galatians 5:1) to see how the word liberty was used. When I was an undergraduate I read the 'Pennsylvania Gazette' from 1765-1766 looking for items about the Harrisburg area. This project took three weeks with my head in a microfilm reader about six hours a day. Now that sort of search could be done in an afternoon.”
—Jon Alexander, O.P., Associate Professor of History, Providence College

“Readex's digital Early American Imprints and Newspapers are of enormous benefit to American historians. As a historian of the African-American experience, I have found the easy availability of early African-American newspapers and pamphlets and the facility of conducting specific word searches in these digitized sources to be invaluable for my work.”
—Manisha Sinha, Associate Professor of Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

“I expect that any scholar of colonial and early national print culture will share my enthusiasm for the digitization of Early American Imprints and especially Early American Newspapers. This product offers an exponential leap over the microform version in our ability to use the original sources. We can now search full text by word or phrase, easily browse by date or title, and navigate through a dense page without losing sight of its overall structure. The user interface is superior to other comparable resources, like the historical ‘New York Times’ or the online ‘American Periodical Series.’

"I teach the history of the media; with this resource available, assignments that require students to look through original newspapers will no longer be burdensome. The original microform editions of these collections made these sources far more available; the online version brings them easily within reach of anyone lucky enough to be associated with an acquiring institution.”
—John Nerone, Professor, Institute of Communications Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Many of the documents are startling in their content and can bring energy and even joy into the classroom.”
—Eric Rothschild, 30-year AP U.S. history teacher and author of the "Teacher's Guide to Advanced Placement United States History"

“The Archive of Americana is an invaluable research aid that helps students understand history through a broad array of contemporaneous perspectives, ranging from regional to international. These perspectives allow students to develop and use the critical thinking skills necessary for understanding historical interpretation and context, as well as the conditions that create historical events."
—Dean Eastman, 30-year social studies teacher and Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, Beverly High School, Beverly, Mass.

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