Multi-Volume History Collections

For some time it was common for writer historians to devote years or even decades to a single topic, or a lengthy discussion of broad swaths of history. As I mentioned on the previous page, it has now become more common for authors to deal piecemeal with their favorite topics. But the collections listed below are monumental achievements in historiography, and in my judgment, they deserve a special place in the collections of books about America's past. Some of these sets are still available in tact; others must be purchased and single volumes, one at a time, in hopes of eventually amassing the entire collection. I am fortunate enough to own several of these, and they have a special place in my library.

Here are some better known multi-volume works:

Page Smith. A People's History of the United States. 8 Volumes. I have recently givenSmith's work a 5-star review at Amazon, where you can buy the complete set.

Dumas Malone. Jefferson and His Time. 6 Volumes. Malone was one of Jefferson's earliest biographers. His assessment conflicts in certain areas with more recent scholarship, but his knowledge of the man and the era is deep.

Albert J. Beveridge. The Life of John Marshall. 4 Volumes. Senator Beveridge completed his work around the turn of the century (1900), and it remains a solid treatment of the great chief justice.

Allan Nevins. Ordeal of the Union. 8 Volumes. Allan Nveins worked on his monumental history for 24 years, during which time he authored many other books. A definitive history.

George Templeton Strong. Dairies. 4 Volumes. Strong started his diary in 1835 and wrote in it almost every day of his life for nearly 40 years. His diary serves as a primary source for many historians of the Civil Warand antebellum years.

Max Farrand. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787: 1937 Revised Edition. 4 Volumes. A complete record of everything that was recorded by the members. Includes James Madison's notes.

Shelby Foote. The Civil War: A Narrative. 3 Volumes. Shelby Foote said it took him longer to write it than it did to fight it. Contins meticulous detail.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The Republic of Letters. The Jefferson-Madison Correspondence. 3 Volumes.

James Thomas Flexner. George Washington. 4 volumes.

Robery V. Remini. Andrew Jackson. 3 Volumes. Covers Jackson's entire life, March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845.

Carl Sandburg. Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years & The War Years. 6 Volumes.

The papers of many famous Americans, including men like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Marshall and many others have been collected and published, an exercise that can last for years. They are often huge collections. Jefferson's papers, for example, contain over 50 volumes. In the digital age in which we now live, such collections will very likely be published only online in the future, and will be available at places such as the Library of Congress, or the George Washington Library at Mount Vernon. A number of those published collections were halted while in progress, when the remaining items were provided through online resources

Sage History Home | Resources | Readings | Updated March 25, 2017