Daily Life through American History in Primary Documents
by Randall M. Miller, Theodore J. Zeman, Francis J. Sicius, and Jolyon P. Girard
December 2011, 1099pp, 8 1/2x11
4 volumes, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-61069-032-4
$461, £355, 401€, A632
eBook Available: 978-1-61069-033-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The events of past history are up to debate, right? After all, it depends on whose version of it you’re relying upon. Not exactly—when high-quality primary documents are available, much of the uncertainty about long-ago events can be eliminated. Having direct access to primary documents provides an immensely valuable research and learning benefit.

With this book, students, teachers, and general readers get a most important look at primary documents—essentially history's "first draft"—revealing rare insights into how American life in past eras really was, and also about how professional historians begin their work.

Daily Life through American History in Primary Documents presents a large sweep of American history through the voices of the American people themselves. This multivolume work explores the daily lives of American people from colonial times to the present through primary documents that include diaries, letters, memoirs, speeches, sermons, pamphlets, and all manner of public and private writings from “the people.”

The emphasis is on the variety of people’s experiences as they ordered and lived their daily lives. The cast includes Americans of every class and condition, men and women, parents and children, free and “unfree,” native-born and immigrant. Hundreds of images further illustrate American life as it developed over more than four centuries and as Americans moved across a continent.

Organized both chronologically and topically, this collection invites many uses by students, teachers, librarians, and anyone wanting to discover what counted in American lives at any one time and over time. Its focus on primary documents encourages readers of the volume to explore specific and critical events by taking a firsthand look at the actual documents from which those events draw historical meaning. The documents show Americans at work, at home, at play, in the public square, in places of worship, and on the move. As such, they perfectly complement the acclaimed Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life in America and will enrich any American history, social science, and sociology classroom.


  • More than 200 selected primary documents drawn from more than four centuries of American life
  • General overviews for each broad topic and analytical introductions to each specific document by the editor
  • A chronological presentation of American history from colonial times to the present
  • Brief biographical information on the author and historical context for each document
Randall M. Miller, PhD, is professor of history at Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA. He holds a doctorate from The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, and has published more than 20 books and over 80 articles on topics as varied as race and slavery, politics, religion, media culture, urban affairs, immigration and ethnicity, the American Civil War and Reconstruction eras, and regional history. He is also the series editor for three Greenwood book series: the 26-volume series, Greenwood Guides to Historic Events of the Twentieth Century, the 11-volume (to date) series, Major Issues in American History, and the Daily Life in the United States series. Miller is also set editor for the 4-volume Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life in America.

Theodore J. Zeman, PhD, earned his doctorate from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, and is lecturer in history at Saint Joseph's University, also in Philadelphia. Zeman's published works include Beyond Combat: Essays in Military History in Honor of Russell F. Weigley, coedited with Edward G. Longacre and published by the American Philosophical Society; and he served as a volume editor of The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life in America Volume I: The War of American Independence and American Expansion and Reform, 1763–1861.

Francis J. Sicius, PhD, is professor of history at St. Thomas University, Miami Gardens, FL, and has been faculty there since 1979. He earned his doctoral degree at Loyola University, Chicago, IL, and his MA and BA at Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. He has written numerous books and articles on American social and intellectual history. Sicius served as a volume editor of The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life in America.

Jolyon P. Girard, PhD, is professor emeritus at Cabrini College, Radnor, PA, where he received the Lindbach Award for Excellence in Teaching. Girard has won teaching awards and published two other books with Greenwood on U.S. diplomacy and daily life in America. Girard served as a volume editor of The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life in America.


"This set is terrific for history fans and incredibly useful for the general user. . . . A definite purchase for public and college libraries and for high schools where students need to cite primary sources."—Booklist, Starred Review, April 1, 2012
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