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Social Studies Subject Guide: American Studies



Click Here for the Passwords List.  You'll need to log in as a Catlin Gabel student or employee.  Having trouble? Contact your division librarian.

How to Get a Multnomah County Library Card

In addition to our own books and databases, the public library offers dozens of databases, and thousands of ebooks, audiobooks, and streaming music that you may access using the barcode on the front of your shiny new library card. Having a library card is the first step in becoming a power user.  You'll have access to hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of research materials. 

(a field trip with History students to Multnomah County Public Library)

Upper division students will benefit from having a Multnomah County Library card as they begin to do more serious research, and begin to use a broader range of academic databases beyond the holdings of Catlin Gabel's library.  Click here to get started:

Plan ahead, as you need to visit one of the public library's branches to obtain a card.  

You don't need to live in Multnomah County to be eligible.  Click here to find out whether you are able to obtain a card.

What Are Databases?

Ancestry Project

American Studies Ancestry Project

Newspapers Online
Here are some digitally archived newspapers from around the world. Some newspapers cover pre-Revolutionary War times.  Note that each of these archives uses different search methods. It can be confusing. Ask if you need help!

Chronicling America:  Historic American Newspapers (Library of Congress)
A useful site for free, full-text access to a number of US news sources over the past few hundred years.  Use the Advanced Search option, and limit by date range.  

Trove: National Library of Australia:  Digital Newspapers
Search the full text of a number of newspapers from Australia. You can choose keywords, and use the Advanced Search to choose a specific date.  You're able to see the whole, scanned image of the news pages. I recommend using Advanced Search.

Papers Past: New Zealand Newspapers
Search the full text of a number of New Zealand news sources.  Recommended by Amanda W.

Washington Observer:  Washington, DC
Some dates are available full text through a Google Newspaper Archive.  In most cases, you can view the whole front page of the newspaper.  Use the search tools on the left side of the screen.

Universitiy of British Columbia Open Collections
A full-text range of British Columbia, Canada papers that's searchable by date range and keyword.  Use the "sort by oldest to newest" if you search for a longer time period.  Recommended by Amanda W.

Irish Newspaper Archive
Search individual titles of Irish newspapers by selecting a Publication, and choosing a year, and a keyword. Notice that you cannot choose an individual date to search.  Recommended by Amanda W.

Joseph McGarrity Collection
An assortment of Irish, Irish-American, German, German-American, and British papers provides scanned images of some dates within your range.  Recommended by Amanda W.

British Newspaper Archive (British Library)
Use the Advanced Search feature to find UK newspapers dating back to pre-1776 online. It's possible to choose a specific date and view several different newspapers published on that day.  You must register for free to view 3 pages of these newspapers.

Google News Archive
Google archives some or all pages from select international newspapers. Coverage varies. You can search by the name of the newspaper. Not sure? Search alphabetically by the name of a major city in your ancestor's region. 

HELP!  Need help using any of these resources? Ask Sue, Derek, or Ginia. 

The Historical Oregonian (1861-1987) (MultCoLib)
A fantastic, searchable database of back issues of the Oregonian newspaper. You'll need a Multnomah County Library card to use it, but that's quick to obtain.  You can search for family names, marriages, obituaries, and major events in the region. You can get a feel for the advertising of the period as well. 

Ancestry Databases

These databases are helpful for searching for the name and geographic location of a grandparent or other ancestor when you have some information about them. When possible, get a full name, including middle name, dates of birth and death, and town or city where they lived. 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  If you have family members who may have formerly been enslaved in the 1800s or prior, be sure to check out these resources to help you trace your family history.  Also check out the Heritage Quest access to US Freedman's Bank Records. Not sure where to start? Ask Sue, and she'll sit down with you to think together. 

Research Guide:  African American Family Research
National Archives: Federal Records that Help Identify Former Slaves and Slave Owners
This source is rich in links to nationally digitized documents that could be useful. (MultCoLib) (click the box at the left to get a MultCoLib card)
Search births, deaths, marriage and divorce records, military service records, and immigration records in this helpful database. Requires a Multnomah County library card.

This is a non-profit, free resource of searchable data collected and maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The organization provides access to the public, but you must sign up for a free account.  It is nationally recognized as a strong research option available to the public. 

HeritageQuest Online (MultCoLib) (click the box at the left to get a MultCoLib card)
This collection, in addition to the usual census, birth, and marriage documents, includes the US Freedman's Bank Records, which can help you track information about family members who were former slaves.  Here's information about the US Freedman's Bank Records: This collection contains records from the Freedman’s Bank (formally known as the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company) between 1865 and 1874. Records from the Freedman’s Bank contain a wealth of information. Because enslaved people didn’t have legal rights prior to 1865, it can be difficult to track them through censuses or birth, marriage, and death records. For many African Americans, records from the Freedman’s Bank may be the first time they’re able to find an ancestor’s name outside of inventory lists included in wills and probate records of enslavers.
Requires a Multnomah County Library card to access.

HELP!  Need help using any of these resources? Ask Sue, Derek, or Ginia. 

Your US Librarian

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Sue Phillips
Upper School Library
503.297.1894 x4550 (circulation desk); (503)297-1894 x4100 (voicemail)