American political history

Dreams and declarations from the Founding Fathers

Throughout the year we will be highlighting collection items that illustrate the dreams and declarations that have shaped American politics. We also look at the international conflicts, alliances and friendships tied to them.

We will cover topics such as George Washington, British loyalists, the Founding Fathers and the American Civil War. We will also consider the role Scots played in shaping the early nation and their legacy.

Introducing the American collections

In this first video, Foreign Collections curators Chris Taylor and Dora Petherbridge introduce just a small selection of American political material held at the National Library of Scotland.

You can also read a transcript of this video

From George Washington to Barack Obama

From a burgeoning nation once led by a member of a wealthy plantation and slave-owning family to the first African American President, this resource looks at key points in the nation's history.

Through key items in the collections, we will examine how the role of the United States President has taken on global dimensions. We will examine a wide range of material from the 18th century through to the Cold War and beyond.

Mapping the growth of a nation

Map of the USA
1715 map of US
View large map
on Flickr

Alongside early manuscripts, this resource will showcase early maps which chart the expansion of the United States from the early British colonies to modern-day superpower.

Find out more

The collections at the National Library of Scotland have been developed for over 300 years and there is something for every area of interest. At NLS you can see:

  • Manuscripts relating to American and Scottish-American history, including personal accounts and correspondence and documents on military, business, and intellectual matter
  • Recent books from the major American university presses
  • American popular and reference works
  • Published presidential papers and collected works
  • American academic journals — printed and online
  • American newspapers and magazines
  • Official publications, such as those of the US Senate and Congress
  • Digital resources such as 'Sabin Americana' and 'Early American Imprints Series I: Evans'
  • Special printed collections such as the Henderson Memorial Library of Books on America

For more information on the American political history collections or if you have suggestions on material NLS should acquire, please email our Foreign collections team.

Music in the video kindly provided by the Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes and Drums, based in Massachussetts, USA.


Politics and society



See also:

View other American political history topics:


- Loyalists in Revolutionary New York


- George Washington

Find out more about American collections at NLS

American collections including presidential and colonial history, the civil war, and politics.


Foreign Collections provides an overview of current overseas material.


Scots Abroad: Stories of Scottish Emigration for an insight into Scots in America.

Elsewhere on the web

Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world.


The White House has been the home of US Presidents for over 200 years.


US House of Representatives is one of the two houses of the US Congress. It passes legislation that affects the entire country.


United States Senate is the upper house of the US Congress. It has exclusive powers not granted to the House of Representatives.


Library of Congress — American Memory provides free and open access to material that documents the American experience.


Scottish Association for the Study of America facilitates the study of America in Scotland.

NLS learning for you

If there's a topic you'd like more information about or if you have any suggestions for learning, email us.

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