Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 65,000 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.

Spotlight on Primary Sources

Each of our Spotlights from our Collection are accompanied by explanatory text, a transcription, and an image. Related 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

General Sherman on the "March to the Sea," 1865

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

Theme: Military History

Curriculum Subject:

Grade Level:

George Washington and the Newburgh Conspiracy, 1783

Era: Creating a New Government, The War for Independence, The American Revolution, 1763-1783

Theme: Military History

Curriculum Subject: Economics, Government and Civics

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

Washington on a proposed third term and political parties, 1799

Era: The Early Republic, The New Nation, 1783-1815

Theme:

Curriculum Subject: Government and Civics

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

The Gettysburg Address

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

Theme: Military History

Curriculum Subject: Literature, Religion and Philosophy

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

William Penn on the "Well-Governing of My Family," 1751

Era: Colonization and Settlement, 1585-1763, Religion and Eighteenth-Century Revivalism

Theme: Religion

Curriculum Subject: Religion and Philosophy

Grade Level: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Washington on a proposed third term and political parties, 1799

Era: The Early Republic, The New Nation, 1783-1815

Theme:

Curriculum Subject: Government and Civics

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