I’ve long been a fan of American history and the Old West and enjoy reading accounts and memoirs of people from times past. Making history come alive is one of a fiction writer's jobs. Researching is easy with the Internet. Here are a few sites for other aficionados:
http://www.rarenewspapers.com/ - this is a collection of rare vintage newspapers you can buy. Although one cannot see the whole paper - typing in words such as “Mail Order Bride” or “Slave” will bring up any newspapers with those words in them. You can then read the headlines and sometimes part of the leading article. There is a nice “period” feel to the partial articles, you can see, and in fact, many of the newspapers are reasonably priced, if one wants to delve into deeper research.
http://www.nps.gov/archive/whmi/history.htm - The Whitman Mission National Historic Site. Lots of Old West Links, Oregon Trail Links, and information on missionaries who traveled West. Some information on Washington State, its archives and the Native American Indians of the area.
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/moagrp/ - “The Making Of America” site! The digital library of 19th century books and journals, available to read online. You can read religious tracts, temperance papers, short stories, almanacs, foreign trade, birds…it’s all here for the serious student of history. A delightful collection of papers and books.
http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~hornbeck/disease.htm - Roots.web’s list of “old” diseases in alphabetical order, with explanations of their modern symptoms, causes and current names, if applicable. At the bottom of the document is a list of major epidemics and where they took place. Excellent resource for historical writers.
http://www.westernoutlaw.com/ - The Western Outlaw Lawman Association – the site has Adobe Acrobat downloadable .pdf files of some famous Western characters.
http://www.coax.net/people/lwf/WESTERN.HTM - The black experience on the Western frontier. An incredible amount of rare history, all in one place!
www.kstrom.net/isk/stars/starmenu.html - Native American Astronomy – Star Maps with their Lakota names, Lakota spirituality stories, Medicine Wheel studies.
www.ewebtribe.com/NACulture/history.htm - Important dates in Native American history. Specific information on various American Indian tribes and archeology of the Western regions.
www.archives.gov/index.html - The National Archives And Records Administration. You can search for descriptions of NARA’s nationwide holdings and view digital copies of many important documents. Photographs, paintings, documents from Susan B. Anthony’s suffrage criminal case file, files from the Rosenbergs espeionage case file, Eisenhower’s D-Day statement to the Allied Expeditionary Force, a letter from Jackie Robinson, and the authorization giving Francis Gary Powers orders for the last U-2 flight over Russia, just to name a few of the types of historical documents available.
www.lcweb.loc.gov/ - The Library Of Congress website. “Log on, play around, learn something” is their creedo. Lots of historical law documents, information on Presidential libraries, online galleries, history and culture.
lcweb2.loc.gov/wpaintro/wpahome.html - The Works Progress Adminstration’s Manuscripts from the Federal Writers Project, 1936-1940. Type a word such as “slave” or “log cabin” into the search engine on the site, and it will upload whatever journals mention those words. An amazing collection of personal memoirs.