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Historic Documents

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For the Constitution, its history, and related historical documents, see Constitutions

Debates of Congress

Dred Scott

Emancipation Proclamation

Gettysburg Address

United States Statutes at Large

Document Collections

AMDOCS: Documents for the Study of American History
Collection of links to text documents dating from the 15th Century to the present with special sections devoted to the Civil War, Reconstruction & Progressive Period, First & Second World War with the interwar & postwar periods, Cold War, and Vietnam.

American Memory: Historical Collections for the National Digital Library
Multimedia collection of digitized documents, photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures and text from the Library of Congress Americana Collection. Over 7 million items from more than 100 multimedia collections can be searched by keyword or browsed by topic. Collections related to political science and the law include:

Abraham Lincoln Papers
Collection of 20,000 documents dating from the 1850's through Lincoln's presidential years, 1860-65. Documents include Lincoln's draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, correspondence from well-known political leaders & reformers, and a memorandum expressing his expectation of being defeated for re-election. Documents from 1865- include letters of condolence to Mary Todd Lincoln.

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents & Debates, 1774-1873
Collection of digitized, full-text United States congressional documents dating from the Continental Congress to the 42nd Congress. Documents include the Journals of the Continental Congress, journals & debates of Congress, the United States Statutes at Large, and Congressional Serial Set.

George Washington Papers
Collection of 152,000 images from 65,000 documents. The collection includes documents dating from Washington's youth, his time as a colonel of the militia during the French and Indian War, his position as delegate during the First and Second Continental Congresses, Washington's command of the American army during the Revolutionary War & from his two presidential administrations.

"I Do Solemnly Swear...": Presidential Inaugurations
Digitized collection of approximately 400 items from the presidential inaugurations of George Washington through George W. Bush. The collection contains diaries & letters of the presidents & those who witnessed the inaugurations, handwritten drafts, advertisements & photographs.

James Madison Papers
Papers from his time as a student, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, his term in the Continental Congress, his pivotal role in Constitutional Convention, nine years in the House of Representatives, tenure as Secretary of State and two terms as President of the United States. Includes correspondence and notes which illuminate the origins and course of the War of 1812. Digitized images of approximately 12,000 items spanning the years 1723 to 1836.

Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910
Collection of 138 volumes consisting of first-person accounts, biographies, promotional literature, local histories & archival documents. Subjects covered by the collection include: settler & Native American conflicts, life experiences, growth of local communities & cultural traditions, and the "development of regional & national leadership in agriculture, business, medicine, politics, religion, law, journalism, education, and the role of women".

Portraits of the Presidents & First Ladies
Formal & informal pictures of all the presidents & most of the first ladies.

Slaves and the Courts
Over 100 books and pamphlets totaling approximately 8,700 pages from the Library's collection. Contains "trials and cases, reports, arguments, accounts, examinations of cases and decisions, proceedings, journals, a letter, and other works of historical importance". Most cases took place in America. Materials were published between 1772 and 1889 and include materials from the Dred Scott case, and activities of John Brown, John Quincy Adams, and William Lloyd Garrison. Some items are the only primary source on their subjects. Documents may be viewed as text or digitized image.

Thomas Jefferson Papers
Collection of approximately 27,000 documents, most of which are available as digital images. A majority of the collection consists of correspondence, memoranda & drafts of documents from Jefferson's time as a delegate to the second Continental Congress, his drafting of the Declaration of Independence, his governorship of Virginia, position as representative in Congress & his appointment as minister plenipotentiary in Europe. Documents from Jefferson's two presidential terms, including those pertaining to the Louisiana Purchase, are also available.
see also: Thomas Jefferson Digital Archive

American Treasures of the Library of Congress
Online exhibit of the rarest, most interesting or significant items relating to America's past. Items from the exhibit are arranged in the manner of Thomas Jefferson's own library, which became the core of the Library of Congress. Exhibit galleries include: Memory (History), Reason (Philosophy including Law, Science and Geography) & Imagination (Fine Arts including Architecture, Music, Literature & Sports).

Avalon Project at the Yale Law School: Documents in Law, History & Diplomacy
Collection of text documents relevant to the fields of law, history, economics, politics, diplomacy & government. Documents include: Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, the U.S. Constitution, the papers of the Confederate States of America, the Federalist papers, Nuremberg War Crimes Trial documents, presidential papers, United Nations documents & World War II documents.

Famous Trials
Collection of famous trials from over the centuries. Trial resources include introductory comments from the website author, court decisions, trial transcripts, observer's accounts, supporting documents, biographies of key participants, cultural reaction to the trial, photographs & occurrences during the time of the trial. Featured trials include: the Salem Witchcraft Trials, the Sacco-Vanzetti Trial, the Black Sox Trial, the Scopes "Monkey" Trial, the Hauptmann (Lindbergh) Trial , the Rosenberg Trial, the My Lai Courts Martial & the O.J. Simpson Trial. Site also links to other websites featuring famous American & worldwide trials.

History of the Federal Judiciary
Information about the federal court system, including: biographies & records of all judges who have served in the federal courts since 1789, history of the courts, landmark legislation related to the court system & photographs of historic court houses.

JSTOR Early Journal Content
Free access to journal articles prior to 1923 in the United States and prior to 1870 elsewhere.

Making of America
Library of full-text, primary sources in American social history dating from the antebellum period through reconstruction. The University of Michigan, Making of America collection contains approximately 8,500 monographs. Documents can be retrieved by subject, title, or by keyword. The Cornell University, Making of America collection provides access to 267 monographs & over 100,000 journal articles. Documents can be retrieved by keyword, proximity & frequency searches, author, title, or through a browseable index of authors, titles & subjects.

National Archives and Records Administration
"NARA is an independent Federal agency that helps preserve our nation's history by overseeing the management of all federal records." One of NARA's goals is to provide electronic access to these records.

Presidential Libraries
Contact information, hours, locations & links to Presidential Library websites.

Nuremberg Trials Project: A Digital Document Collection
Project of the Harvard Law School Library to digitize its collection of one million Nuremberg Tribunal documents including transcripts, briefs, document books, evidence files, etc. Use the document search engine to locate specific documents or groups of documents; search by author, date, keyword (analysis & description areas only), transcript speaker, evidence code number, and page number. Use the transcript search engine to search full text of transcripts that have been keyed-in. Search by keyword, speaker, evidence code number, page number, or locate date within table of proceedings.

Our Documents
Collection of documents which reflect "our diversity and our unity, our past and our future, and mostly our commitment as a nation to continue to strive to 'form a more perfect union.' " Features 100 documents that chronicle U.S. history, 1776-1965. Site contains information, images & transcripts for each document.

Thomas Jefferson Digital Archive
Archive of over 1,700 items including letters and manuscripts, public papers, autobiography, and addresses. Site also provides 2,700 quotations from Jefferson's writings and links to other Jefferson collections.
see also: Thomas Jefferson Papers

Virtual Jamestown
Digital archive of documents from the English colony. Documents include court records; labor contracts; public records such as census, state papers, laws, and the Virginia Company records; maps & images; first-hand letters & accounts; and newspapers. Site also contains information about the colony.

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