Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

American History 1493-1945

This subscription-based database provides immediate access to images of more than 50,000 documents from the Gilder Lehrman Collection and is available at schools, libraries, and colleges around the world. American History, 1493-1945 is designed for teaching and independent research. More than 100 universities and institutions—including Harvard University, Yale University, and the Library of Congress—have acquired a subscription to the database for their students and researchers.

Ask for it at your library.

American History in 100 Documents: An Innovative Curriculum Contest

We’re pleased to announce the launch of “American History in 100 Documents,” a lesson plan contest open exclusively to teachers in the Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School network.

Affiliate School teachers are invited to submit an innovative and creative lesson plan that uses at least one document from the Gilder Lehrman Collection. We will then select ten teachers to receive the following: 

  • A $500 Prize
  • A one-year subscription to American History: 1493-1945, the fully digitized Gilder Lehrman Collection ($1,000 value)

How to participate

  • Sign-up for free trial access to American History: 1493-1945.
    • Request your free trial here.
  • Select one or more documents from The History of America in 100 Documents, a wide-ranging introduction to the Gilder Lehrman Collection, to use in your lesson plan. You must have a trial or subscription and sign in to American History 1493-1945 to access this page.
  • Create a new lesson plan that focuses on one or more of the Gilder Lehrman Collection documents or modify an existing lesson plan to highlight the document(s). Note: The lesson plan should be 1–15 pages in length.
  • Submit your entry here.

Contest Dates

  • Contest opens: December 17, 2020
  • Submission deadline: March 5, 2021
  • Winners announced: April 1, 2021

Please send us an email at reference@gilderlehrman.org if you have any questions!

How to Use American History, 1493-1945