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American Literature

A guide to resources for the study of American literature.

Find Primary Sources

Use this page to find historical primary resources from 19th c. newspapers to early printed books.  Review our other research guides for more primary source resources.


For detailed lists of our newspaper holdings in all formats, see our Newspapers Research Guide.

Common Formats

More and more collections of newspapers, magazines, correspondence and other primary sources are moving online, but many are still printed on paper and microfilm.  This is especially true for materials still protected by copyright (US publication 1923 or later).  Check the FSU catalog for a wealth of primary sources in print, on microfilm, or on discs. 

Full-Text Primary Source Databases for American Literature and History

These databases offer full-text primary sources.  Some are general in coverage, but most are principally focused on the US and North America.

Related Primary Source Databases

These databases are not focused on the US, but may offer relevant sources for studying American literature.  They index and in many cases offer full-text primary sources for the 18th-20th centuries

Full-Text Primary Source Websites

These websites index or host primary source material related to American literature, history and culture.

Primary Source Research Guides

Search Hints

Most databases offer more advanced search operators in addition to the Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT.  These functions can be very helpful in narrowing down your search or collapsing multiple searches into one.  Here are some common advanced search operators to try:

Nesting: Use () to group terms together (ex. American authors AND (England OR France) searches for american authors connected with England and/or France).

Proximity: Use NEARx to search for terms within x words of eachother (ex. Athens NEAR4 Georgia searches for Athens within four words of Georgia)

Truncation: Place an * at the end of a word to catch mulptiple endings (ex. writ* will search for writ, write, writes, writer, etc.)

Wildcard: Use the ? to represent a single letter (ex. wom?n will search woman and women)

NOTE: Search operators vary slightly by database.  Check the help menu in any database to see which operators are available and exactly how they function.

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