Introducing the Early America
About Early American History
Welcome to the Heritage Early America Classical Library. If you have never used
a Heritage History Compact Library before, this page will help explain how the
information included in the Early American library is organized and how it
may be used for independent study.
The page you are looking uses the same software that you are accustomed
to using when you browse the internet, but is reading files directly from your computer.
What this means is that all of the books that you link to in this environment
are available for you to view, print, or download to another device.
You don't need to pay additional fees to copy these books to an e-Reader or
Tablet, and you don't need to access the internet to view
them on your computer. Best of all, you don't need to worry about
if you choose to print or copy anything from the Early America Library
for your personal use.
The Early America Classical Library contains over fifty traditional history
books written especially for young people. It includes books at reading levels
from fourth grade to high school and each
book is presented in three different formats so students can read them on their
home computer, make printed copies, or download them to their e-Reader device.
Instructions for using electronic books in various formats are provided
in the Electronic Texts User Guide.
The contents of the Early American Library can be referenced
reading level. Each entry includes the book’s title,
author, size, and links to three electronic formats. Software that "reads"
electronic books is required to view these files, but the Adobe Reader,
which displays the PDF version of each book,
already exists on almost all personal computers, and other electronic reader software can be
downloaded for free from the internet.
All of the books in the Early American Library deal with some aspect of American
history, but the books
by Subject page organizes them into more
American Indians, and
American Negroes are subject categories
that focus primarily on specific topics rather than providing a broad overview
of all of American history. Comprehensive histories and books that include
diverse stories of American life are grouped into a general
U.S. History category.
In addition to subject, the collection of American history books
can also be referenced by Genre. Heritage History genres include
Comprehensive histories, which cover all of American history chronologically,
Episodic histories, which treat a particular incident or era,
Military histories, which focus on battles and military heroes,
Social histories, which emphasize cultural aspects of history rather than specific incidents, and
Biographies, which include both collections of short character sketches, and
longer individual life stories. The two final genre categories include
Legends and Literature and
Lastly, the Early American library provides lists of its books
by Reading Level. Books intended for Grammar school students are listed in
Green, books appropriate for middle schoolers are listed in
Brown, and those recommended for more mature audiences are listed in
Red. This color scheme is used throughout the Compact Library to
reflect reading level.
In addition to providing book lists organized by subject, genre, and reading level, the
Early American Library contains several additional reference pages intended to help
students and instructors identify books of particular interest. The
Book Summaries page includes a short
description of each book in the library. The
Series Descriptions page, which features descriptions of
overall series rather than individual books, may be helpful to those
readers who enjoy a particular book and would like to locate similar volumes.
Recommendations page provides specific reading
recommendations for core reading assignments for various age groups.
Using Electronic Texts
In order to make our entire library of traditional history books available at an
affordable price, Heritage History provides electronic versions of all of our
books in both e-Reader and printable format.
Unfortunately, not everyone is up-to-date regarding
the most recent advances in electronic books technology. In order to
help our users make informed decisions about usage and purchases of
e-Readers and desktop publishing tools, we have provided an
Electronic Texts User Guide. It is divided into
three main sections that deal with issues related to
electronic readers, self-publishing, and copyright restrictions.
The Heritage guide to
discusses the differences between various e-Reader technologies and gives detailed
instructions for downloading Heritage e-Books from a Compact Library
to an e-Reader device such as Kindle or Apple iPad.
For those who prefer reading hard-copies rather than e-Books, the Heritage guide to
provides tips for printing
and binding the books from the Heritage library at home in an efficient and cost-effective
manner. Finally, the terms and conditions of using the electronic texts are
discussed in the
Copyright Terms section.
A printable copy of the Heritage
Electronic Texts User Guide
is available, and we
recommend that anyone who is not already familiar with e-Reader technology,
laser printers, and binding equipment read the guide before deciding
how to use the Heritage e-Book library. Even technologically
advanced readers should familiarize themselves with the copyright
status of the Heritage books before beginning the program.
If you still have
questions after reading the Electronic Texts User Guide, refer to the Electronic Texts
Frequently Asked Questions.
The Curriculum Guide
All Heritage Classical Libraries, including the
Early America Classical Library,
contain a broad selection of books on a particular historical topic,
but do not include maps, timelines, character lists, battle dictionaries, or
other learning resources associated with a complete curriculum.
Even without the additional learning aides, Heritage Classical Libraries
can be used as the
basis of a reading-based course of study, or they can be used to supplement
other traditional curricula. Conventional
history texts often do a thorough job of covering the basics, but they
don't have space to tell the most interesting stories of history
in detail. Heritage Classical Libraries correct this deficiency by
providing an entire library of engaging biographies and exciting stories
Whether you use Early America collection as your primary
curriculum, or to supplement another program, it may be instructive to
read the Heritage Classical
Curriculum User Guide, supplied with this library.
The differences between a conventional history program, and
the "living books" method of learning history, recommended by
Heritage History, are discussed in the introduction, along with
other aspects of the Heritage History learning philosophy.
Most of the rest of the guide focuses on practical tips for
keeping students on track learning the essentials while maintaining
enough flexibility to allow them to pursue their own interests.
We recommend that anyone who is interested in the program review
About Early American History
The Heritage Early American collection is currently offered as a Classical Library rather
than as a complete curriculum. Although the project of upgrading to a
curriculum is underway, the task of providing a complete curriculum
for American history is a challenging one. The Heritage History approach
to American history differs from that of many contemporary curriculums
and has some inherent limitations. Some of the differences between the
Heritage Early American Classical Library and conventional American history
programs are discussed as follows.
The most obvious difficulty that Heritage History has in dealing with
American history is that we are confined entirely to public domain texts, meaning
we can only consider books that were published before 1923. Books dealing with
the last century of American history are still under copyright protection, so we have
no way of providing complete, reproducible texts for more recent material.
The United States is a dynamic country that has seen vigorous growth
in the last hundred years, but much of the 20th century is beyond
the scope of Heritage History.
The second issue that makes American history a special challenge for the editors
of Heritage History is simply the large volume of available material. Even
confining ourselves to pre-1920 history, the number of juvenile American histories
is high relative to other periods—instead of dozens of books to sort through we have
hundreds to consider. Not all are included in the Early American
library, but the collection is already large and it will continue to expand
to a size greater than most other libraries.
The third difficulty with developing a curriculum for American history is that its
political system and government is central to its identity as a nation. The United
States is the first and longest established modern representative democracy so attention
to political matters is part of its cultural heritage. This is unusual;
most governments in human history have been oligarchical rather than democratic and disruptions
have been driven by force and intrigue rather than political philosophy (hence the important
role of wars and palace politics). Even western countries, such as France and Germany, have a
limited experience with representative democracy so America is unique in this regard.
When telling the story of the United States, therefore, political philosophy is a central
concern and most families assume that the study of American history should be associated
with the study of government, especially for older students. In the elementary
grades this may simply involve imparting an appreciation of American liberties and
representative government; in the middle school grades lessons may focus on
civil rights, liberties, and political parties; and in high
school American history may be taught in the context of a civics course. In other words,
the whole approach that Heritage History typically takes to history—that is, one that
de-emphasizes analysis and political philosophy in favor of stories and biographies—is
not a typical approach. This is much less of an issue in the younger
grades than in high school, when a civics-based, analytical study of American history is
expected of all college-bound students.
Instead of modifying its narrative approach to fit into the more analytical
framework of other United States history curriculums, Heritage History will continue to do what
it does best—provide a broad selection of easy-to-read, age-appropriate, story-based
histories. Families that prefer this approach will have a
source of stories they can’t find elsewhere, and families that have different ideas about
how American history should be taught can use the Early American library for
supplemental reading, while using a more conventional American history textbook for their
The Early American Library has inherent limitations, but it also has several great
strengths. Our collection of
American Indian history is exceptionally
good and in many cases quotes original sources so students can
read first-hand accounts written by those directly involved in the conflicts between
Indians and white men. We currently have only three
American Negro histories, but all
were written by negro scholars of the early twentieth century with deep concern for
improving the condition of American former slaves. We have an excellent collection of
Exploration and Invention stories that
are of exceptional interest and great consequence. Our
Military History collection includes
a number of biographies and naval warfare stories written for students and also
includes fascinating accounts of the Spanish American, Civil, and Mexican American Wars.
In terms of Regional History, the current collection
includes the complete twelve volume collection of James Otis’s
Colonial Children series, of outstanding interest to young
readers. In the future our regional history section will contain many more state and
regional history stories. The
biography section will also be expanded to include
life stories from prominent Americans involved in business, finance, and industry. Our collection of
political histories will also continue to grow but
it will never be the primary focus of the Heritage American collection.
By emphasizing interesting stories from American history that feature
topics such as exploration, invention, pioneer life, regional history, American Indian history, American
Negro history, business and finance, authors and literature, transportation and industry,
and military history, the Early America Classical Library can offer both a complement and
an alternative to standard American history texts.
Liberty is of utmost importance and it is worthwhile for students to take the time to
understand the difficulties associated with self-government. But what makes
American history truly interesting is not only the study of the process and political
theories associated with self-government, but also the stories of what a free people
actually do with their liberty.
Liberty is not an unmixed blessing—it provides the
latitude for people to do evil as well as good,—so the fascinating stories of American
accomplishment and progress are by no means a parade of virtuous intents and noble
purposes. But they are full of drama and self-determination. There are stories of heroism
and treachery, survival and sacrifice, conflict and cooperation, accomplishment and
failure. The story of America is the story of thousands of free citizens, only a few of
whom use their liberty of thought and action to engage the political questions of the day.
Heritage History is
committed to providing American history stories from all walks of life that provide
insight into the drama of self-government, but also the drama of self-determination
and individual achievement.
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