Sudden Impact

Timing is Everything

Taino house on Hispaniola in Giovanni Battista Ramusio,Delle navigationi et viaggi raccolte da m. Gio. Battista Ramvsio, volvme terzo. Venetia: Givnti, 1606.

Native Americans and Europeans in Amerigo Vespucci, Be[i.e., de] ora antarctica per regem Portugallie pridem inuenta.

King Ferdinand, Columbus with his ships, and Taino in Giuliano Dati, La lettera dellisole che ha trouato nuouamente el re dispagna.

Christopher Columbus, De insulis nuper in mari Indico repertis, bound with Carlo Verardi, Historia Baetica.

Claudius Ptolemy, Cosmographia.


The city of Tenochtitlàn in Hernán Cortés, Praeclara Ferdinadi Cortesii de Noua maris Oceani Hyspania narratio.

Alonso de Molina, Vocabvlario en lengva Castellana y Mexicana.

Christian Soldiers

Men panning for gold in Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés, La historia general de las Indias.

Bartolomé de las Casas, Breuissima relacion de la destruycion de las Indias.

Enslaved Africans on a Brazilian sugar plantation in Joan Blaeu, Geographia, quae est Cosmographia Blaviana.

Brazil: Taking Old World Conflicts to the New World

Map of Brazil in Giovanni Battista Ramusio, Delle navigationi et viaggi raccolte da m. Gio. Battista Ramvsio, volvme terzo.

More info about André Thevet, author of Les singularitez de la France Antarctique. collections/gordon.html

Tupinamba greeting the author Jean de Léry, Histoire d'vn voyage fait en la terre dv Bresil, avtrement dite Ameriqve.

Florida: A Challenge to Spanish Hegemony

La Florida, ca. 1594.

“The Gauls left behind in [Fort] Charles after the battle were distressed by the want of food” by Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues in Theodor de Bry, Brevis narratio eorvm qvæ in Florida.

Trappers and Traders

Montagnais, Algonquin, and Frenchmen fighting the Iroquois, ca. 1609 in Samuel de Champlain, Les voyages dv sievr de Champlain Xaintongeois…. Paris: Jean Berjon, 1613.

Missionaries and Martyrs

The Governor of Quebec lighting fireworks for the St. Joseph feast in Paul Le Jeune, Relation de ce qui s’est passé en la Nouvelle France, en l’année 1637… Rouen: Jean le Boullenger, 1638.

The Lost Colony

North American coast from Cape Fear to Chesapeake Bay by John White, 1590.

Transciption of Thomas Hariot’s A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia.

Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation.

Tobacco Profits

John Smith, A True Relation.

Good News from Virginia.

Illustrations from John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles. small/collections/mcgregor.html

A Rough Start

[William Bradford, Edward Winslow, et al.], A Relation or Journall of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Setled at Plimoth in New England.

“The South part of New-England, as it is Planted this yeare, 1634” in William Wood, New Englands Prospect.

Spreading the Word

Cotton Mather, The Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, of the Old & New Testament.

Mr. Richard Mather by John Foster, c. 1670.

John Eliot, The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and the New. Translated into the Indian Language.

Portrait of Metacomet in Samuel Gardener Drake. Indian Biography.

Puritan Women

Testimony of Anne Hutchinson in John Winthrop, A Short Story of the Rise, Reign, and Ruine.

Online versions of Bradstreet’s poems.

Under Duress

Indentured Labor

Letter from William Capps, [Virginia], to John Ferrar, [England], 31 March and 1 April 1623.

John Farrer, A Map of Virginia.

Indenture of James Bracken to Enoch Stickney of the ship Washington, 20 May 1784.

Death or Transport

John Lauson, The Poor Unhappy Transported Felon’s Sorrowful Account.

You Are What You Own

Mrs. [Susanna] Rowson, Charlotte. A Tale of Truth. Vol. 1.

Portrait of Susanna Rowson, artist unknown, not dated.

Immigrants in Chains

Online transcription of additional entries in the Carter diaries.

Journal of William Hugh Grove, 1698-1732. Entry for 12 July 1732.

The Virginia Gazette, notices, 20 September 1770.

Slavery in the North

Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.

Born a Slave

Thomas Jefferson’s architectural drawings.

Sketch of the first Monticello by Thomas Jefferson, post-1775 (N-46).

Portrait of Isaac Jefferson, ca. 1847.

Memoirs of Isaac Jefferson, dictated to Charles Campbell in 1847. collections/mcgregor.html

British Abolitionists

Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African/ Written by Himself. 304.Projects/Erera/Pages/Main.htm

The arrival of enslaved people from Africa in John Gabriel Stedman, Narrative, of a Five Years’ Expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Suriname.

Online transcription of the selected entry, “Voyage to Havana 1816”, 26 May 1816, of the diary by Stirling Murray. (MSS 8557-a)):

Destiny Manifested

Out on the Edge

Speech of Chief Canassatego, Representative of the Onondaga Nation, in A Treaty Held at the Town of Lancaster, in Pennsylvania…. Philadelphia: B. Franklin, 1744. ~proctorn/1756/SUP-chastisement.htm

John Filson, The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke. Wilmington, [Delaware]: James Adams, 1784. etext97/1boon10.txt

Thomas Jefferson: First American Archaeologist

Online version of Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia:

A rim sherd and two projectile points from the site of Monasukapanough (44AB18).

Rugged Frontiersmen

“An American Log House” in Georges-Henri-Victor Collot, A Journey in North America.

“View of Col. Crockett’s Residence in West Tennessee” in Davy Crockett’s Almanack of Wild Sports of the West…1835

Portrait of Col. David “Davy” Crockett in Davy Crockett’s Almanack of Wild Sports in the West…1837.

Trail of Tears

Sketches of the Indian War in Florida…. New York: [s.n.], 1837.

Eunice Barber, Narrative of the Tragical Death of Mr. Darius Barber, and His Seven Children…. Boston: David Hazen, 1818.

Edgar Allan Poe, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1840.

Portrait of Edgar Allan Poe by Edouard Manet. Lithograph proof, signed by the artist. collections/poe/

The Black Hawk War

The Misses Hall and their brother being captured by the Fox and Sauk in [William P. Edwards], Narrative of the Capture and Providential Escape of Misses Frances and Almira Hall…. [New York: William P. Edwards?], 1832.

“Battle of Bad Axe” in American Indian Scenes in the Western Part of the United States, compiled from plates of Henry Lewis, Illustrirte Mississippithal Dusseldorf: Elkan, Baumer & Co., 1854-1857.

James Fenimore Cooper: The Pathfinder

Portrait of James Fenimore Cooper, 1833.

Manuscript of The Pathfinder by James Fenimore Cooper, 1839.

Ludovik Choris: Artistic Vision

“Vue du Presidio San Francisco” in Louis Choris, Voyage Pittoresque Autour du Monde.

Karl Bodmer: Picturing the Frontier

“Travelers Meeting with Minaterre Indians” by Karl Bodmer in Maximilian, Prince of Wied, Illustrations to Maximilian Prince of Wied’s Travels in the Interior of North America. Translated by Hannibal Evans Lloyd.


“Fourth of July Camp” in John Woodhouse Audubon, Illustrated Notes of an Expedition Through Mexico and California.

Deadly Folly

Satirical depictions of the Gold Rush by J.A. and D[onald] F. Read in James Alexander Read, Journey to the Gold Diggins/ by Jeremiah Saddlebags. New York: Stringer & Townsend, 1849.

Letter from Redick McKee, United States Indian Agent in California, Mariposa County, California, to Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart, Secretary of the Interior under President Millard Fillmore, Washington, D.C., 21 March 1851.

Collision Course

Fire Bell in the Night

Online transcription of Jefferson's "wolf by the ear" letter to John Holmes (MSS 11619):

Holding onto the Wolf

Letter from Nathaniel H. Hooe, King George County, Virginia, to his son-in-law William A. Harrison, Pickens County, Alabama, 7 August 1834.

Memorandum book of Edmund Bacon, 1802-1822.

Sold South

“Slave Pen, Alexandria, Virginia” in Alexander Gardner, Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War. Vol. 1.

Account book of slave dealers H.N. Templeman and William H. Goodwin. Entries for 1850.

Ship’s manifest listing enslaved men, women, and children consigned by Norman Fitzhugh to Elkanah Nickerson, master of the schooner Okemo out of Alexandria, 11 November 1834.


Letter from Charles Jones [overseer?] to Robert Thurston Hubard, Buckingham County, Virginia, 22 December 1854.

Letter from Nany [surname not recorded], Boone County, Kentucky, to her children [not named], Orange County, Virginia, 17 September 1824.

Portrait of an unidentified woman holding carders, not dated.

Portrait of Sally Cottrell Cole, Albemarle County, Virginia, after 1859.

Portrait of Harry Holmes, after 1859. Inscribed on back: Slave to Major James Watson.


“Slave State, Free State” in Henry Bibb, Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave, Written by Himself.

Runaway notice, ca. 1840s.

Letter from Mary Elizabeth Allen, Beaver Dam, [Alleghany County, Virginia], to her son John James Allen, [county unknown], Texas, 27 April 1855.


Portrait of John Hartwell Cocke, not dated.

Diary of John Hartwell Cocke, May to December 1843. Entry for 13 December 1843.

Letter from Peyton Skipwith, Monrovia, Liberia, to John Hartwell Cocke, Fluvanna County, Virginia, 10 February 1834.

The North Star

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.

Letter from Frederick Douglass, Rochester, New York, to Samuel Joseph May, Rochester, New York, 29 December [1847]. plunkett/PluAfro16.html

Nowhere Safe

Portrait of Solomon Northup in Solomon Northup, Twelve Years A Slave.

Sojourner Truth, Narrative of Sojourner Truth.

Harriet Wilson

Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

An extensive archive, Uncle Tom’s Cabin and American Culture, is available online at:

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Boston: John P. Jewett and Company; Cleveland: Jewett, Proctor & Worthington, 1852.

Game cards. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Salem, Massachusetts: W. & S. B. Ives, ca. 1852.

Illustrations from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, with quotes from the text. [London]: Bauerrichter & Co., [ca. 1852-1859].

Printed cotton handkerchief. Words by John G. Whittier and music by Manuel Emilio. Little Eva Song. [Boston]: John P. Jewitt & Co., ca. 1852.

The Road Unknown

Choosing Sides

The Valley of the Shadow, an extensive archive of Civil War documents is available online.

In the Ranks

Rose O’Neal Greenhow, My Imprisonment and the First Year of Abolition Rule at Washington.

Portrait of Harriet Tubman from Sarah Hopkins Bradford, Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman.

Sarah Emma Evelyn Edmonds, Nurse and Spy in the Union Army.

Joining the Cause

“Breaking Camp, Brandy Station, Virginia” in Alexander Gardner, Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War.

“In the Trenches” from a sketch by Winslow Homer. One of a set of souvenir cards. Life in Camp, Part 1 and Part 2.


United States, War Department, General Orders, No. 143/ War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington, May 22, 1863.

United States Army, 27th Colored Infantry Regiment, Muster and Payroll of Company G, 13 April to 30 June 1864.

Home Front

“Fleeing from the Land of Bondage - On the Mississippi River in 1862” in Mary Ashton Rice Livermore, My Story of the War. Hartford, Conn.: A.D. Worthington, 1889.

Diary of Sigismunda Stribling Kimball. Entries for 5 May to 8 May 1862.

Uneasy Union

Diary of Elizabeth Oakes Prince Smith. Entries for 11 July and 20 July 1863.

Illustrations of the 1863 New York Draft Riot in HarperÕs Weekly. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1 August 1863.

Louisa May Alcott: Offering Succor

Portrait of Louisa May Alcott, ca.1870.

Louisa May Alcott, Hospital Sketches.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.

“Calamus 8” from the manuscript of Leaves of Grass, ca. 1860.

Letter from Walt Whitman, Washington, D.C., to Nathaniel Bloom and John Frederick S. Gray, [New York, New York], 19 March 1863.

Pocket notebook of Walt Whitman in which he made notes of his visits with patients in Civil War hospitals. Entry for 11 May 1863.

Portrait of Walt Whitman. Inscribed on back: Given to a Comrade as a Memento in Washington City, June 29, 1865.


Sand Creek

Lydia Maria Francis Child, An Appeal for the Indians

The Wild West Tamed

“Life of Buffalo Bill” from the series Histories of Poor Boys Who Have Become Rich, and Other Famous People. Packed in Duke’s Cigarettes. small/collections/mcgregor.html

Ned Buntline, Buffalo Bill, and His Adventures in the West.

The Central Pacific Railroad, Nelsons’ Pictorial Guide-Books.

John Mortimer Murphy, Sporting Adventures in the Far West.

Bret Harte

Portrait of Francis Bret Harte. New York: Sarony Studio, ca. 1870s.

Illustration by Joseph Hull with cover of F. Bret Harte, The Heathen Chinee. Chicago: Western News Company, 1870.

Manuscript of “Wan Lee, the Pagan” by Bret Harte, 1874.

Samuel Clemens

More about Mark Twain and His Times at Prof. Stephen Railton's Etext Center Web site.

Letter from Samuel Clemens, Esmeralda, Nevada Territory, to his brother Orion Clemens, Carson City, Nevada Territory, 22 June 1862.

Mark Twain, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches

Portrait of Samuel Clemens, ca. 1873.

Signed manuscript fragment, Samuel Clemens, [1897].

Salesman’s prospectus for Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Stephen Crane

The full text of The Red Badge of Courage is available online at:

Portrait of Stephen Crane, 1897.

Manuscript of The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, 1894.

Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage.


Grand Army of the Republic reunion, probably at Elmwood Cemetery, Norfolk.

Reunion of University of Virginia alumni who served in the Confederate army, Charlottesville: Holsinger Studio, 12 June 1912.

One-Way Ticket

Willa Cather

Portrait of Willa Cather.

Letter from Willa Cather, [New York], to Carrie Minor, [Nebraska?], 29 October [1917].

Ántonia at the plow by W.T. Benda in Willa Cather, My Ántonia. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1918.

John Dos Passos

Letter from John and Katherine Dos Passos, New York, to Patrick Murphy, ca. 1930. Illustrated by John Dos Passos.

Escaping Jim Crow

More images from the Jackson Davis Collection:

More images from the Holsinger Collection:

Letter from Walter Ashby Plecker, Richmond, Virginia, to Mrs. Robert H. Cheatham, Lynchburg, Virginia, 30 April 1924.

Harlem Renaissance

Claude McKay, Home to Harlem. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1928.

Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road: an Autobiography. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1942.

Letter from Langston Hughes, New York, New York, to Ina Steele, Princess Anne, Maryland, 28 July 1953.

Langston Hughes, The Weary Blues. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926.

Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald

Dust jacket of the first edition. Francis Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

Typescript of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, winter 1925-1926.

Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time.

Signed portrait of Ernest Hemingway, 1928.

John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Viking Press, 1939.

Manuscript of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, 1939. [Florence: s.n., 1495.]

William Faulkner

Manuscript of The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, ca. 1929.

Ellen Glasgow

Ellen Anderson Gholson Glasgow, In This Our Life. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1941.

Eudora Welty

Katherine Anne Porter, Eudora Welty: A Note on the Author and Her Work. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1941.

Tennessee Williams

Typescript of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, ca. 1944.

On the Road

The San Francisco Poetry Renaissance

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Pictures of the Gone World. The Pocket Poets Series, No. 1.

Allen Ginsberg, Howl, and Other Poems. The Pocket Poets Series, No. 4.

Letter from Allen Ginsberg, Tangier, Morocco, to Lucien Carr, New York, New York, 28 July 1961.

Leader of the Pack

Portrait of William Carlos Williams, ca. 1937.

William Carlos Williams, ca. 1937 initialed page from his autobiographical notes.

Kenneth Patchen, Panels for the Walls of Heaven.

Jack Kerouac: On the Road

Jack Kerouac, On the Road. New York: Viking Press, 1957.

William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch. New York: Grove Press, 1962.

A Different Drum

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, and Selected Prose, edited by Sculley Bradley. New York: Rinehart & Co., Inc., 1953.

Henry David Thoreau

Two pages from the manuscript of Walden by Henry David Thoreau, not dated.

“Resistance to Civil Government” by Henry David Thoreau in Aesthetic Papers, edited by Elizabeth P. Peabody. Boston: The Editor, 1849.

Robert Frost

Robert Frost, Twilight. [Lawrence, Massachusetts: Frost, 1894.]

Up Against the Wall

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man. New York: Random House, 1952.

Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Random House, 1959.

LeRoi Jones [Imamu Amiri Baraka], Arm Yourself, or Harm Yourself!  A Message of Self-defense to Black Men! [Newark, New Jersey]: Jihad [196?].