US History & Gov

Reference Sources

American Panorama – interactive Atlas of U.S. History from UR’s digital scholarship lab
Ballotpedia – Encyclopedia of American Politics
Congressional Research Service reports (curated by the Government Documents department at the University of North Texas). Note: CRS reports are also available at, Federation of American Scientists, and appear in PowerSearch under the Books tab.
Constitution and Legal Info (Cornell U) – includes an annotated U.S. Constitution

MW Library Catalog – reference books (e.g. History in Dispute)
Encyclopedia Virginia (VFH)
Opposing Viewpoints (Gale) – database focused on contrasting policy perspectives
PowerSearch (Gale) – incl. reference books and Congressional Research Service reports
Salem History – great reference for American decades research
Supreme Court Decisions by issue
U.S. History in Context (Gale) – history focus (unlike general PowerSearch database)
Virtual Reference Library (Gale) – digital reference books on a variety of topics

Research Sources 

AP Source – magazines & journals (both trade/professional and scholarly)
EBSCO ebooks – books covering range of topics and perspectives
Google Scholar – reports, older journal articles, and a wide array of sources
JSTOR – archive of scholarly articles (does not include most recent 5 years)
Microsoft Academic Research – similar to Google Scholar
MW Library Catalog – esp. biographies and nonfiction books in the 300’s and 900’s
PowerSearch (Gale) – news, journals, and magazines incl. The Economist
Science Direct (Elsevier) – scholarly journals – incl. social sciences and psychology
Understanding the U.S. Constitution – free app from JSTOR that facilitates finding scholarly articles that cite specific sections of the Constitution
U.S. History in Context – history focus (unlike general PowerSearch database)

American History

APUSH Study Guide from the Gilder Lehrman Institute
American Factfinder – demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau
American Presidency Project – exhibits and archives from U.S. presidential libraries
Document Bank of Virginia (LVA) – find primary sources by theme or historic era
Office of the US Historian – digital records of US foreign policy by administration
Primary Docs in Am. History (LoC) – organized by topic and era

Historical Newspapers

Chronicling America (LoC) – U.S. newspapers, 1836-1922; use topic lists for tips and ideas
Early American Newspapering (Colonial Williamsburg)
Historical Newspapers (ProQuest) – U.S./UK
PowerSearch (Gale) – 1980-now
The Reflector (UVA) – African Am. newspaper, 1933-5
Richmond Daily Dispatch, 1860-1865 (U of R)
Virginia Chronicle (LVA) – database of VA newspapers
Witness to the Early Am. Experience – colonial era around NYC – incl. newspapers

American Government – current events from right, left, and center media sources
Campaign contributions are tracked by sites like OpenSecrets and MAPLight – legislation, floor debate transcripts, and more
Congressional Digest (AP Source) – concise, pro-con coverage – portal to government data from a wide range of agencies
Demographics – Census 2010American Community Survey, and American Factfinder contain U.S. demographic data; the Statistical Abstract of the U.S. (1889-2011) is no longer produced; p.121 of census guide details population questions over time
FiveThirtyEight – political blog founded and led by statistician and writer Nate Silver
Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room (CIA)
Internet Archive – includes old PSA’s and government films
The Living Room Candidate – TV commercials 1952-2012
National Security Archive (GWU) – Electronic Briefing Books incorporate declassified docs
Presidential public papers (UM) through Clinton or G.H.W. Bush through Obama
Public opinion sourcesGallupHarris Poll data vault, Northwestern’s public opinion guide (incl. links to news outlet polls), Pew Research, and Rasmussen Reports
State Dept Archive (pre-2001); new interface (1945-1976+) HTML or eBooks
Think tank lists: A-Z from SourceWatch,Wikipedia, and by political leaning at InsideGov and All Sides – official federal government web portal
Voting in America (U of R) – data visualization tool

Strategies for Exploring Contrasting Viewpoints

Although you may already hold an opinion in regard to a public policy issue, in order to write or speak persuasively about it, you should familiarize yourself with the arguments and evidence of those whose opinions differ from yours.  By their nature, such sources are usually biased.  Whenever possible, evaluate evidence firsthand rather than relying on an interpretation.  Cull footnotes or reference lists for leads.  Resources for exploring contrasting viewpoints include the following:

  • Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports curated by the Univ. of N. Texas or, and available elsewhere online and in PowerSearch, provide an even-handed introduction to topics.
  • CQ Researcher – detailed reports about policy issues that include pro/con essays
  • Issue briefs from (also linked from Issues pages of
  • Viewpoint essays in Opposing Viewpoints in Context
  • Contrasting current news coverage from
  • Opinion essays, editorials, and articles in persuasive/polemic publications found with PowerSearch and AP Source (view PDF list) or on the open web
  • Position statements and reports from non-profit* organizations and think tanks (a.k.a. policy institutes) who advocate particular policies
  • Policy briefs published by research centers or other organizations in print or online

*NoteNonprofit and nonpartisan does NOT mean an organization is neutral. Although nonpartisan means they are not affiliated with a political party, they often advocate a particular policy position. If they don’t declare their position openly, you may detect their bias by analyzing their arguments and considering the tone and vocabulary with which they express them. To ascertain the degree of their political neutrality, examine the interests and positions of their donors (including companies who sponsor them), board members, executive leaders, and guest speakers.


Topical Archives

African Americans at the End of Slavery in the U.S. (Massachusetts Historical Society)
America at War, 1941-1945 (U of R)
American Colonist’s Library – primary documents
American Radio History – Billboard magazine archive containing scans of many issues published between 1936 and 2014
Jackson Davis Collection (UVA on Pinterest) – African American schools in the southeast

Virginia History

Document Bank of Virginia (LVA) – find primary sources by theme or historic era
LVA Digital Collections – Search* (scroll down to see search example in next part of guide)
VA DHR archive of nomination forms for National Register
VCU Digital Collections by Topic – or Search* (see example below)

Richmond History

Adolph B. Rice Photo Collection(LVA) – 1949 to 1960, 400 of the 16K images in this collection; 550 selected photos on Flickr too
Carneal & Johnston Negative Collection (LVA) – 215 photos of Virginia buildings incl. Richmond Dairy, First Virginia Regiment Armory, Colonial Theater, Richmond College (now U of R), and Virginia Military Institute
Historic Richmond photos (Dementi Studios)
Hopewell United Mine Workers, mostly 1947-1957 (LVA on Flickr)
Jackson Ward (VCU) – also accessible on Flickr
MCV’s story of bones – Mr. Raviotta edited the related documentary
Rarely Seen Richmond (VCU) – 600 vintage postcards, 1900-1930
Richmond Commission of Architectural Review (VCU) – 7K color photos, 1965-2000
Richmond’s Jewish communities – article by Mr. Slipek
School Buildings (LVA) – photos from 1920’s to 1970’s

Photo by Pixabay on