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History, United States

The goal of this guide is to highlight some key resources for researchers interested in the history of the United States of America from prehistoric times to today.

RU Library Catalogue

RU Library Catalogue searches for books, e-books, dvds, and other resources. It is a good place to look for known books, or when using the keyword search to find some relevant titles for an assignment. When you find a good title, open the catalogue record in order to identify the assigned Library of Congress subject headings that can be used to identify similar works.


If you are interested in a specific geographic region of the USA, or a specific state, use the specific name in your search.

Example subject heading searches:

African Americans Southern States History
African Americans Civil rights Alabama History
Racially mixed children United States
Chicago (Ill.) History
Civil rights movements Alabama
United States History Civil War 1861-1865

RU Library Search Everything

RU Library Search Everything This search engine searches for books and audio-visual materials that are also listed in the library's catalogue, as well as journal articles (chiefly those that are available electronically), theses and dissertations, newspaper coverage from some recent and a selection of archival newspapers, and digitized content such as out-of-copyright books and journals that are available from sources such as The Internet Archive and The Hathi Trust.

Refine your search by content type or other criteria including listing in the library catalogue.

Quick Facts

Encyclopedias and dictionaries

remain useful sources of quick information.  In addition to free sources such as Wikipedia, consider some of our licensed electronic content from publishers such as Oxford University Press, as well as printed items. 

Try keyword searches in the main catalogue using subject or topical terms and either dictionaries, or, encyclopedias

Example keyword searches:

Biographical information

Consider these resources:

You can also try searching the main catalogue using the following keywords:

united states biography dictionaries

Historical Maps and Atlases

United States -- Historical geography -- Maps

The David Rumsey Map Collection contains historical maps of North and South America.

The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library is digitizing many of the 200,000 maps in the collection. Search digital content under the Collections tab.

The Toronto Public Library (TPL) has ongoing subscriptions to many biographical resources as well other dictionaries and encyclopedias that are not available at Ryerson. Many of the resources are located at the Toronto Reference Library situated just north of Bloor Street on Yonge Street.