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.

Spotlights on Primary Sources

Each of the Spotlights from our Collection provides explanatory text, a transcript, and an image of the featured document. Questions for classroom discussion are available to K–12 teachers.

Below are some highlights from the Collection.

Click here to see all Spotlights on Primary Sources

A brawl between Federalists and anti-Federalists, 1788

Era: Creating a New Government, The New Nation, 1783-1815, Hamilton

Theme: Government and Civics

Curriculum Subject: Government and Civics

Grade Level: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Japanese announcement of the attack at Pearl Harbor, 1941

Era: World War II, The Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945

Theme: Military History

Curriculum Subject:

Grade Level: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

A family torn apart by war, 1777

Era: The War for Independence, The American Revolution, 1763-1783

Theme: Military History, Women's History

Curriculum Subject:

Grade Level:

“The war ruined me”: The aftermath of the Civil War in the South, 1867

Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877, Reconstruction

Theme:

Curriculum Subject:

Grade Level:

“Columbia’s Noblest Sons”: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, 1865

Era: The American Civil War, Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Theme: Art, Music and Film

Curriculum Subject: Art

Grade Level: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Slave Patrol Contract, 1856

Era: Slavery and Anti-Slavery

Theme: American Indian History

Curriculum Subject:

Grade Level: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Nat Turner’s Rebellion, 1831

Era: Slavery and Anti-Slavery

Theme: African American History

Curriculum Subject:

Grade Level: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+