This guide is intended for students and researchers studying American history, politics and culture at the University of Oxford, although students of global history, international relations, law and literature may find it useful.
Use this guide to find out about our key online guides for American Studies, hosted by the Bodleian Libraries.
The University’s principal research collection relating to the history of early America and the United States is housed in the Vere Harmsworth Library. The VHL has comprehensive collections relating to US history, spanning largely from the earliest colonial period to contemporary history. The collections of 100,000+ volumes of printed materials are impressive by both European and American standards - thanks to the long history of Legal Deposit and active purchasing over many decades. The Library has an excellent collection of printed materials, including monographs, journals and editions of documents. Researchers in colonial America also benefit from access to the Bodleian Library’s extensive collection of early printed books as well as sources on microfilms and important electronic resources, such as Early American Imprints I, 1638-1800.
Research collections relating to social science aspects (politics, international relations, social and economic aspects) of the United States are covered by the Vere Harmsworth Library, but are also found in the Social Science Library (SSL). As a general rule, collections that are primarily focused on domestic aspects, or foreign relations from the point of view of the United States, are covered by the VHL; more comparative and theoretical works are held in the SSL.
The Bodleian Libraries’ collections relating to US law and legal history are held in the Bodleian Law Library, which are the most extensive such collections in the UK. There are some law holdings in the VHL, particularly on political and historical aspects. The VHL holds the Bodleian Libraries’ collection of US government publications, with the exception of various titles related to US law.
American Literature collections are kept in the Bodleian Library (research collections) and English Faculty Library (teaching collections). Material relating to the wider arts and culture of the United States may be found in the Bodleian Library, Sackler Library and Music Faculty Library. The VHL does have supplementary collections in all these areas, particularly for historical aspects.
The VHL reference copies are supplemented by the lending and teaching collections in the History Faculty Library (HFL) and Social Science Library.
Relevant Special Collections are largely in the Bodleian Library and Rhodes House Library.