The North American Collections Group within the University of London is pleased to announce an American Trail as part of this year’s History Libraries and Research Open Day on 27th November 2015. This strand will be of interest to postgraduate students and early career researchers involved in North American Studies in the widest sense, encompassing subjects as diverse as history, literature, social sciences, gender and disability studies, art and music to broader interdisciplinary research.

British Library: The British Library holds one of the largest European collections of material relating to the Americas, from manuscript to music, books to digitised collections, as well as a packed-programme of academic and popular events organised by the Eccles Centre for American Studies. Meet the Eccles Centre and some of the curatorial team to discover how the Library can support your research.

Business Archives Council & Archives and Records Associations’ (ARA) Section for Business Records: The Business Archives Council promotes the preservation of business records of historical importance; supplies advice and information on business archives and modern records; and encourages interest in and study of business history and archives.

The Archives and Records Associations’ (ARA) Section for Business Records aims to be the professional body of choice for archivists and records managers working with business records.

Among members’ collection there may be information about American businesses.

Dr Williams’s Library: The collection includes some early American pamphlets dating from the 1650s and correspondence concerning the early native Americans. There is also an important anti-slavery collection including the celebrated self description by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Global Law Library: The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library is one the UK’s largest legal research libraries. Its collections encompass national, international and comparative law across a wide range of jurisdictions and legal topics from the 18th century to date in a variety of formats from print to online. The North American collections are extensive and include monographs, legislation, law reports and journals for many individual states and provinces. For the USA there is a particular focus on California, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Louisiana. Early volumes include an 1820 edition of the laws from the Sietas Partidas that were still in force in early 19th century Louisiana and New York reports of cases in prize in the mid-nineteenth century. The Canadian collections include a complete set of the Dominion law reports from 1912 and a volume of Quebec ordinances 1764 – 1767 which has been digitised and is available via the catalogue.

Institute of Historical Research: Published primary source material covering the Americas in the Colonial and Post-colonial periods. Comprehensive runs of official records, colonial assembly debates, diaries and journals, travel writing and correspondence, particularly strong for the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. There are complementary resources for British, Spanish, Portuguese, Low Countries and French history and in the Military and International Relations collections. For more information see

King’s College London Library Services: King’s College London Archives and the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives hold published collections of official US government papers on twentieth century international defence policy.  Television documentary research collections in the LHCMA include transcript interviews with US politicians, diplomats and defence personnel on topics including the nuclear age, the Middle East, Iran, Russia and Iraq.

 The Foyle Special Collections Library’s collections include the former library of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with extensive coverage of the American Revolution, the War of 1812, 19th century British emigration to North America  and the history and topography of Canada.  We also hold what is currently the only recorded surviving copy of John Eliot’s translation of the Book of Genesis into the Massachusett language, printed in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1655.

Lambeth Palace Library: Lambeth Palace Library holds sources on north America including 17th-century accounts of the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia; records of the Bishops of London and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel on the Church, especially 18th-century; and visits by the 20th-century Archbishops as heads of the Anglican Communion.

Library of the Society of Friends: Material on North America in the Library of the Society of Friends includes official records of the Quakers’ national body in Britain (London Yearly Meeting minutes and “Epistles Received”), archives and papers documenting transatlantic visits and correspondence from the 17th century onwards, and American Quaker publications. Topics include early Quaker missions to America, colonisation and travel, the American Revolution, slavery, and joint relief programmes of 19th and 20th century British and American Quakers.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine:

The archives of the School date from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and consist of the personal and professional papers of scientific, medical and public health professionals involved in the search for preventative measures and cures to tropical diseases and public health issues. (There are also administrative papers of the School, an extensive photographic collection, and scientific and medical artefacts.) Resources relate mainly to the United Kingdom and countries in Asia and Africa but we do hold some material on North America. Among the collections are the archives of Sir Ronald Ross, the Nobel prize winner who proved the link between mosquitoes and malaria, contain material relating to the USA. In 1904, Ross was invited to speak at the International Congress of Arts and Sciences held at the World’s Fair in St Louis, USA, and he was also invited, probably by Walter Gorgas, to visit Panama. He left Liverpool on the Luciana on 10 September 1904, reached New York on 17th and St Louis on 19th. He set off for Panama on 27 September, arriving on 4 October. He left for England on 12th October, reached New York on 21st, and England on 29th. The archive contains some delightful souvenirs of his visit, as well as correspondence and photos. Also, there are the archives of Peter Piot, current Director of the School contain significant North American material covering his role as a former director of UNAIDS.

LSE library services: LSE Library’s collection has a range of resources for the study of various aspects of 19th and 20th century American history.  This includes one of the largest collections of US Federal Government documents outside of the United States and access to a number of electronic resources, such as the Congressional Hearings Historic Archive 1824-2003.

The National Archives: The library at the National Archives holds a fair selection of material relating to North America. There is a strong focus on the colonial period  with books on exploration, migration and military history.  Later periods are covered as well including titles on the cold war and foreign relations. The National Archives holds an extensive collection of archive material on American history as well, again  with a focus on the colonial period and migration.

Senate House Library: The US Studies research-level holdings offer a broad interdisciplinary coverage of the history, institutions and culture of the United States. The book collection has particular strengths in history and literature. SHL Special Collections have considerable strengths in U.S. Material, with the earliest items from these collections date from c. 1625.

Canada remains a major element of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies collection, with accessions continuing to average nearly a tenth of the Library total. The timeframe extends back to the end of French rule (and earlier in the case of Quebec), though the period to 1867 is covered in far less depth than the post-Confederation period.

TUC Library Collections at London Metropolitan University: The TUC Library Collections have a small collection relating to North America, including a considerable collection of periodicals going back to the 1920s from the American Federation of Labor amongst others.

UCL Institute of the Americas, Library Services and Special Collections: UCL Institute of the Americas offers programmes of study for MPhil and PhD degrees in the history, politics and sociology of Latin America, the US, Canada and the Caribbean. UCL Library has good collections of print and e-resources on the history of these regions.

UCL Institute of Education Library: The two most eminent American educators represented in the Newsam Library’s Special Collections are John Dewey (1859-1952) and Jerome Bruner (b. 1915 – ). Also, almost every special collection has some ‘Americana’ but the History of Education Collection has a large number of 18th and 19th century texts representing American education at all educational levels.

Wellcome Library: The Wellcome Library has several hundred monographs and serials published in North America between 1720-1820 that may interest those studying health and illness and aspects of social history. The collection includes publications on yellow fever in Philadelphia, midwifery, materia medica and a Royal Charter.


There will also be non-library resources on the American Trail:

Bibliography of British and Irish History: The Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH) also covers the American Colonies (the original 13 and Canada) and relations with the USA (diplomatic, cultural and commercial), and includes everything from John Cabot, Roanoke, the American Revolution, the Trent affair to the Gulf Wars.

British History Online: Although it might not be the most obvious place to look, British History Online has a strong collection of colonial materials. The highlights are the 41 volumes of the Calendar of State Papers Colonial for America and the West Indies, which detail papers covering the period of 1574 to 1739, and the Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations, which describe the administrative and routine aspects of colonial policy from 1704 to 1782. All of British History Online’s colonial materials, which have been accurately transcribed from the original volumes, are freely available:

Reviews in History: Reviews in History was launched in 1996, and publishes reviews and reappraisals of significant work in all fields of historical interest. We have nearly 200 reviews of books and digital resources covering North America, and you can find a full list Reviews in History.