Understanding the U.S.A.
The first Europeans to reach North America were Icelandic Vikings, led by Leif Ericson, about the year 1000. Traces of their visit have been found in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, but the Vikings failed to establish a permanent settlement and soon lost contact with the new continent.
Five centuries later, the demand for Asian spices, textiles, and dyes spurred European navigators to dream of shorter routes between East and West. Acting on behalf of the Spanish crown, in 1492 the Italian navigator Christopher Columbus sailed west from Europe and landed on one of the Bahama Islands in the Caribbean Sea. Within 40 years, Spanish adventurers had carved out a huge empire in Central and South America. In the 16th and 17th Century, Northern Europeans settled in what is now the North East Coast of the United States, which soon fell under the British Crown and stayed an English Colony till the Revolutionary Wars in the late 18th Century. Please see links below for an outline of the history of the United States, with a few selected focus areas.
Historians on America (published by Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State) (PDF file, 3.56MB)
Outline of U.S. History (published by Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State) (PDF file, 4.38MB)
Portrait of the USA: Toward the City on a Hill (published by Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State) (PDF file, 48KB)
USA History in Brief (published by Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State) (PDF file, 1.64MB)
- 100 Milestone Documents (compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration)
- American Memory (a gateway to the Library of Congress’s vast resources of digitized American historical materials)
- American Women’s History: A Research Guide (provides citations to print and Internet reference sources, as well as to selected large primary source collections)
- Best of History Web Sites
- A Biography of America (a telecourse and video series that presents American history as a living narrative)
- A Chronology of US Historical Documents (The University of Oklahoma)
- Historical Maps of the United States (The University of Texas at Austin)
- Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States (Bartleby.com)
- The King Center (official, living memorial dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
- POTUS - Presidents of the United States (Internet Public Library)
- Presidential Libraries (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)
All downloadable documents on this page are provided in PDF format. To view PDFs you must have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader. You may download a free version by clicking the link above.