September 28, 2008

American Studies Research Engine

After the American Century

A new search engine is now available for all those interested in the culture, politics, history, and literature of the United States. It is the

Call it ASRE for short.

You can try it this handy tool immediately, as it is on the top right hand side of this page. Access more than 150 gateway sites that lead to approximately 25,000 web pages. These deal with all aspects of the United States, including collections in the Library of Congress, National Archives, Harvard University Library, Chicago Public Library, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and a great many specialized collections. There must be topics which it does not (yet) cover, but I have not been able to discover them.

This handy gadget is almost entirely free of commercial web sites, and it focuses largely on full texts. So, if you want to read a particular short story by Edgar Allen Poe or see original documents related to the building of Hoover Dam, for example, they are immediately available.

What has been left out of ASRE? All sites that want to sell you something. All sites that deal with other countries, other literatures, and most other subjects. Instead of getting 20,000 or 2 million sites to look over, which is impossible, ASRE provides a high-quality, selected list.

Using ASRE does not replace going into the library, and it does not replace using library data bases that are restricted to regular users, such as J-STOR, MUSE, and most newspaper indexes. In other words, ASRE is designed to cast a wide net that catches only good quality materials that can supplement what is available in library datebases. In many cases, such as finding materials for teaching or writing a short paper, it will be all you require.

I hope that this will be a useful tool for teachers and students and general readers. If anyone has suggestions for sites to include, please write to me at