Recommended Reading

Reading List for Early America 1400-1800

Compiled by Professor Rhae Lynn Barnes to jumpstart your reading or general exam lists |  To suggest new titles, please e-mail

Native American History in Early America and Cross-Cultural Exchange


  • Alfred W. Crosby, “Virgin Soil Epidemics as a Factor in the Aboriginal Depopulation in America” William and Mary Quarterly 33, no. 2 (April 1976): 289-299
  • Neal Salisbury, “The Indians’ Old World: Native Americans and the Coming of Europeans,” William and Mary Quarterly 53, no. 3 (Jul., 1996): 435-458
  • Kristen Sword, “Remembering Dinah Nevil: Strategic Deceptions in Eighteenth-Century Antislavery,” Journal of American History 97:2 (September 2010)
  • Brian DeLay, “Indian Polities, Empire, and Nineteenth-Century American Foreign Relations”(link is external)Diplomatic History 39:5 (December 2015), 927-42.

Environmental History in Early America

  • Alfred W. Crosby, The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (1972)
  • William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists and the Ecology of New England (1983)
  • Elizabeth Fenn, Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82 (2001)
  • Ted Binnema, Common and Contested Ground: A Human and Environmental History of the Northwestern Plains (2001) 
  • Karen Haltunnen, “Grounded Histories: Land and Landscape in Early America,” The William and Mary Quarterly 68, no. 4 (October 1, 2011): 513–32.
  • Jeffrey Bolster, The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail (2012)
  • Joyce Chaplin, “Ogres and Omnivores: Early American Historians and Climate History.” The William and Mary Quarterly 72, no. 1 (2015): 25-32.
  • Conevery Bolton Valencius, David I. Spanagel, Emily Pawley, Sara Stidstone Gronim, and Paul Lucier, “Science in Early America: Print Culture and the Sciences of Territoriality,” Journal of the Early Republic 36 (Spring 2016): 73-123.


Migration Across the Atlantic to the New World

Settler Societies, Religion, and Culture in Early America

Caribbean Life and Slavery in Early America and the Atlantic

Slavery and Race in Early North America

Women, Sexuality, and Family History in Early America

The American Revolution and the Early Republic

Recent Additions

Reading List for Modern U.S. History, 1800-1970

Antebellum America

Native Americans

Borders and Borderlands

  • David Gutierrez, Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity (1995)
  • Jeremy Adelman and Stephen Aron, “From Borderlands to Borders: Empires, Nation-States, and the Peoples in between in North American History,” American Historical Review 104:3 (June 1999): 814-841
  • David Gutiérrez, “Migration, Emergent Ethnicity, and the ‘Third Space’: The Shifting Politics of Nationalism in Greater Mexico,” Journal of American History, 86 (September 1999), 481-517
  • Louise Pubols, “Fathers of the Pueblo: Patriarchy and Power in Mexican California, 1800-1880,” in Continental Crossroads: Remapping U.S.-Mexico Borderlands History, eds. Samuel Truett
    and Elliott Young (2004)
  • Sheila McManus, The Line Which Separates: Race, Gender, and the Making of the Alberta-Montana Borderlands (2005) 
  • Samuel Truett, Fugitive Landscapes: The Forgotten History of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (2006).
  • Jacoby, Karl. Shadows At Dawn: A Borderlands Massacre and the Violence of History (2008)
  • Casey Walsh, Building the Borderlands: A Transnational History of Irrigated Cotton along the Mexico-Texas Border (2008) 
  • Brian DeLay, War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the US-Mexican War (2009)
  • Rachel St. John, Line in the Sand: A History of the Western US-Mexico Border (2012) 
  • Adams, David Wallace, and Crista DeLuzio. On the Borders of Love and Power: Families and Kinship in the Intercultural American Southwest (2012).
  • Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (2012) 
  • Joaquín Rivaya-Martínez, “A Different Look at Native American Depopulation: Comanche Raiding, Captive Taking, and Population Decline.” Ethnohistory 61 (3; Summer 2014): 391-418.
  • Katrina Jagodinsky, Legal Codes and Talking Trees: Indigenous Women’s Sovereignty in the Sonoran and Puget Sound Borderlands, 1854-1946 (2016) 
  • George Colpitts, Pemmican Empire: Food, Trade, and the Last Bison Hunts on Plains, 1780-1882 (2018) 

American West

  • Turner, Frederick Jackson. The Significance of the Frontier in American History (1893)
  • Kevin Starr, Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915 (1973)
  • John Mack Faragher, Women and Men on the Overland Trail (1979)
  • Patricia Nelson Limerick. Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West (1987)
  • Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles (1990)
  • Peggy Pascoe, Relations of Rescue: The Search for Female Moral Authority in the American West, 1874-1939 (1990)
  • White, Richard. “It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own”: A History of the American West (1991)
  • Douglas Monroy, Thrown Among Strangers: The Making of Mexican Culture in Frontier California (1991).
  • Cronon, William. Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (Norton, 1992)
  • Marc Resiner, Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water (1993)
  • John Mack Faragher, “The Frontier Trail: Rethinking Turner and Reimagining the American West,” American Historical Review 98 (1993): 106-117
  • Eugene P. Moehring, Urbanism and Empire in the Far West, 1840-1890 (1994)
  • Benson Tong, Unsubmissive Women: Chinese Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco (1994) 
  • Milner, O’Connor, Sandweiss. Oxford History of the American West (1996)
  • Stephen Aron, How the West Was Lost: The Transformation of Kentucky from Daniel Boone to Henry Clay (1996)
  • Kerwin Lee Klein, “Reclaiming the ‘F’ Word, or Becoming Postwestern,” Pacific Historical Review 65 (1996), 179-215
  • William Deverell, Railroad Crossing: Californians and the Railroad, 1850-1910 (1996) 
  • Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990 (1998)
  • Malcolm Rohrbough, Days of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the American Nation (1998) 
  • Gray Brechin, Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin (1999)
  • Michael Morrison, Slavery and the American West: The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Civil War (1999)
  • JS Holliday, Rush for Riches: Gold Fever and the Making of California (1999)
  • Johnson, Susan Lee. Roaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush (2000)
  • Karl Jacoby, Crimes Against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation (2001)
  • Sandweiss, Martha A., Print the Legend: Photography and the American West (2002)
  • Edward Dolnick, Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell’s 1869 Journey of Discovery and Tragedy through the Grand Canyon (2002)
  • Daniel Belgrad, “’Power’s Larger Meaning’: The Johnson County War as Political Violence in an Environmental Context,” Western Historical Quarterly 33 (2002), 159-77
  • William Deverell, ed., A Companion to the American West (2004)
  • William Deverell, Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of its Mexican Past (2004)
  • Rebecca Mead, How the Vote Was Won: Woman Suffrage in the Western United States, 1868-1914 (2004) 
  • David Igler, Industrial Cowboys: Miller and Lux and the Transformation of the Far West, 1850-1920 (2005)
  • Robert Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement (2005) 
  • Louis Waren, Buffalo Bill’s America: William Cody and the Wild West Show (2005)
  • Douglas Flamming, Bound For Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America (2006)
  • Matthew Klingle, Emerald City: An Environmental History of Seattle (2007)
  • Jared Farmer, On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (2010) 
  • Alfred Runte, National Parks: The American Experience (2010)
  • Keyes, Sarah. “’Like a Roaring Lion’: The Overland Trail as a Sonic Conquest.” The Journal of American History 96 (2009): 19-43
  • Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, Sunbelt Capitalism: Phoenix and the Transformation of American Politics (2013)
  • Jared Farmer, Trees in Paradise: A California History (2013)
  • John Mack Faragher, Eternity Street: Violence and Justice in Frontier Los Angeles (2016) 
  • Patricia Nelson Limerick, “Going West and Ending Up Global,” Western Historical Quarterly, 32 (Spring 2001), 5-24
  • Stephen Aron, “Lessons in Conquest: Towards a Greater Western History,” Pacific Historical Review, 63 (May 1994), 125-47
  • Richard White, “The Nationalization of Nature,” Journal of American History, 86 (December 1999), 976-986
  • Norris Hundley, The Great Thirst: Californians and Water, 1770s-1990s
  • Mark Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks 
  • John Walton, Western Times and Water Wars: State, Culture, and Rebellion in California
  • William Deverell and Greg Hise, eds, The Land of Sunshine: An Environmental History of Metropolitan Los Angeles
  • Valerie Matsumoto, Farming the Home Place: A Japanese American Community in California, 1919-1982
  • Roger Daniels, Prisoners without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II
  • Neil Foley, The White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Texas Cotton Culture
  • James Gregory, American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California
  • David Gutierrez, Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity
  • Lisbeth Haas, Conquests and Historical Identities in California, 1769-1936

Free Black Life

  • Litwack, Leon F. North of Slavery; The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860 (1961)
  • Painter, Nell Irvin. Sojourner Truth: A Life, a Symbol (1996)
  • Stauffer, John. The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (2002)
  • Jones, Martha S. All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture (2007)

 The Civil War


 Race, Culture, Labor, and Empire

Gilded Age and Progressivism

Jim Crow

  • Logan, Rayford. The Negro in the United States (1957-1971).
  • Woodward, C. Vann. The Strange Career of Jim Crow, (1974).
  • Painter, Nell Irvin. Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction, (1977).
  • Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks. Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1920, (1993).
  • Gaines, Kevin. Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the 20th Century, (1996).
  • Gilmore, Glenda. Gender and Jim Crow: Woman and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920, (1996).
  • Hale, Grace Elizabeth. Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940, (1998).
  • Daily, Jane. Before Jim Crow: The Politics of Race in Postemancipation Virginia, (2000).
  • Rosen, Hannah. Terror in the Heart of Freedom: Citizenship, Sexual Violence, and the Meaning of Race in the Postemancipation South, (2009).

World War I, The Interwar Years, and World War II

The History of the Civil Rights Movement & Movement Cultures

The Post War and Cold War Era

The Carceral State