American Journeys
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Minimum Requirements

  • Browsers: The optimal browsers for viewing American Journeys documents are Internet Explorer 5.5+ on PCs, and Safari 1.0+ on Mac. Other browsers, such as PC Netscape 6+, Mac Netscape 7+, and IE 5.2 are supported; however, these browsers do not display previous or next page navigation in the document viewers. Internet Explorer 4.x and Netscape 4.x are not supported.
  • Java Script: Java Script is required for pages to display and function properly.
  • Adobe Acrobat: Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or higher is required to view and print reference maps and document facsimiles.
  • Cookies: The My Favorites capability requires cookies.

Getting Started

Use the buttons on the toolbar at the top of the Home page to select an activity:

  • “Find a Document” lists the documents included in the digital library. You can sort them by author, date, document number, or use drop-down menus to identify those that describe particular expeditions, explorers, settlements, states, provinces, or regions.
  • “Images” lets you search just for pictures, diagrams, charts, and maps instead of texts.
  • “Advanced Search” retrieves information using your own keywords or drop-down menus of pre-defined topical terms.
  • “Highlights” takes you directly to eyewitness accounts of famous encounters in American history as they were described by participants.
  • “Teachers” is filled with advice for secondary and middle-school teachers to help them use American Journeys with their students. Here you’ll find ideas for paper or presentation topics, essays on using and interpreting the documents, sample lesson plans, and much more.

Preliminary tips:

  • Use the navigation history at the top of each page to follow your progress through the site (e.g., American Journeys Home > AJ-056 Document Page > Background).
  • Watch for new windows to open, and use your browser’s "minimize" and "restore" functions to display them when needed.
  • Employ your browser’s “Back” and “Forward” buttons as well as the American Journeys buttons to move through the site.

Reading Documents

Browse the Collection:

  • click "Find a Document" on the toolbar of the Home page
  • browse the chronological table of documents, or use the drop-down boxes to select those about specific places or explorers;
  • documents may be sorted by date, author and document number by clicking the column heading
  • click a document’s AJ number in the right-hand column to go to its home page

From any document's home page:

  • click "Read This Document" to open the document viewer (Java Script must be turned on). This will open a new window.

The document contents appear in the left frame. Click any line to see the pages within each section.

  • click any page in the left frame to view the corresponding page image in the right frame.
  • use "search this document" to search the full text of this document. Search results are indicated by a red asterisk and brackets around page numbers; you may need to scroll down to see all results.
  • click "prev page" and "next page" to navigate sequentially (not supported by Netscape browsers).
  • use "doc description" to see bibliographic details and index terms about the entire document.
  • use "page description" to see bibliographic details and index terms about the specific page displayed.
  • use "page & text" to see the uncorrected electronic text (i.e., full text) made from the page image, or to see a transcript of hand-written manuscripts.
  • use "my favorites" to bookmark single pages or the entire document.

To return to this document’s home page, click “<< back” in the document viewer or use the back button of your browser.


Viewing Images

To Locate Illustrations throughout the Entire Collection:

  • select "Images" from the toolbar on the Home page.
  • specify a type of illustration (such as portrait, map, etc.) using the drop-down menus, or leave this box set to "All Types".
  • use the remaining boxes to combine illustration type with topical terms to retrieve specific images.
  • enter keyword in Illustration Title field to find images by title

To Locate Illustrations within a Single Document:

  • go to the document’s home page
  • scroll down to "Topical Search". Select the field “Page Type” with the term “illustration” to retrieve all illustrations in a document or select the field “Illustration Type” to find specific kinds of illustrations (e.g., engravings, charts)

Illustrations throughout the collection or within a single document may also be retrieved via the Advanced Search (described below).

To Zoom In on an Illustration:

  • with an illustration open in the document viewer, click "Page Description"
  • click the URL in the field for "Print/Download PDF Version"

Find the same document page in the PDF version and use the Adobe Acrobat “zoom” tools to magnify the image


Advanced Searching

To Search Across the Entire Collection:

  • select "Advanced Search" from the toolbar on the Home page
  • “Search All Fields”: enter a word or phrase in the box and click "Search." This searches the full texts of all documents and the index terms applied to describe every document and document page. Truncate words with *; put phrases in quotes.
    • Example: "New Mexico" Coronado gold*
  • “Search Full Text”: enter a word or phrase in the box and click "Search." This searches the full texts of all documents (but not the index terms). Truncate words with *; put phrases in quotes.
    • Example: "New Mexico" Coronado gold*
  • “Topical Search”: use the drop-down menus in left-hand boxes to select broad fields ("Economics" or "Animals"). Then choose a narrow topic from the right-hand boxes ("Fur Trade" or "Birds"). You must choose something from both boxes (selecting a field without choosing a topic will not yield accurate search results). In the Date box, you may enter a single year or a range of years (1492 or 1600-1750). Use no more than 4 of the 5 boxes on a single search.
  • To limit the scope of searches, use the first field to select “Search Type”. Documents are indexed at both the document and page levels; choosing “by documents” or “by pages” as search type will limit results to topics appearing either in the document description (which describe the document as a whole) or page description (which describe a specific page).
  • “Bibliographic Search”: use the drop-down menus to select fields about publication data and enter search terms. Truncate words with *; put phrases in quotes.
  • Search Results: results will display in a new window. Use the buttons at the upper right of the search result page to format your results as a grid, thumbnail images, a bibliographic list, or a short-title list. Click any underlined links (such as document number and document page) to open the corresponding page in the document viewer. Use the "<<Back" button to return to your results list.

To Search Within a Single Document:

  • on the “Advanced Search” page, use Search All Fields to combine a document number (“AJ-099”) with additional keywords, or use the first field of the “Topical Search” to select a “Document Number” to combine with topics.
  • Or, use “Find a Document” to go to a document’s home page.
  • locate the “Search All Fields” and "Topical Search" boxes

Searches on a document’s home page will apply only to that specific document. Because many documents are not very long, they touch upon relatively few subjects. Some topical searches may therefore yield very few results. Note the length of any document in the “Pages/Illustrations” line at the top of its home page.

Search Tips

  • Keyword Searches:
    • truncate words with *
    • put phrases in quotes.
    • remember that authors may have spelled words differently long ago.
    • bear in mind that the searchable electronic texts (i.e., full texts) have not been corrected.
  • Topical Searches:
    • limit searches geographically using the "U.S. Region/Country" or "U.S. State / Canadian Province" fields.
    • limit searches chronologically using the Date box.
    • retrieve only entire documents (exclude individual pages) using the "Search Type" field.
    • limit searches to a single document using the “Document #” field.
    • find maps or pictures using the "Illustration types" field.
    • find texts by or about American Indians using the "Genre," "Ethnicity" or "Indian Tribe" fields.
    • find accounts by women or young people using the "Genre" field.
    • restrict searches to manuscripts, memoirs, or other types of documents using the "Genre" field.
    • expand searches beyond the controlled vocabulary by doing a Full Text Search

Search All Fields and Topical searches include terms from both document descriptions and page descriptions unless limited by specifying search type ("by pages" or "by documents").

Document home pages can be accessed from the document viewer by clicking the “Document URL” in either the “doc description” or “page description”. Similarly, PDF versions and background files for all documents are also accessible from the document viewer by clicking the appropriate URL in the “doc description” or “page description”.


Famous Encounters

  1. click "Highlights" on the home page.
  2. scroll through the chronological list of events.
  3. click on the year to open a document at the page where that event is described or depicted.


Printing and Downloading Documents

To print a single page while viewing it in the document viewer, simply click "File" on your browser’s menu and choose "Print" or click the printer icon on your toolbar. This may not work in some Web browsers, in which case follow these steps:

  1. go to the document's home page.
  2. choose "Print or Download". Scroll down if necessary.
  3. click the document title at the bottom of the page to open a PDF version of the document in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

To print the document or a portion of it, click the printer icon in the Acrobat toolbar.

To save the document to your own computer in PDF format, click the disk icon in the Acrobat toolbar. Because some documents are quite long, this may take a substantial amount of time to download on a dial-up connection.

For more instruction, use the Adobe Acrobat help screens.



From any open page in the document viewer, use "My Favorites" to save the entire document or individual pages. Favorites can be viewed, e-mailed, saved to your own computer, or posted to Web sites. (If your browser settings do not allow cookies to be saved on your computer, you may not be able to use My Favorites without changing its privacy settings).

You can designate up to 100 separate items in your "My Favorites" folder.


Citing Documents

Use the standard bibiographical or footnote format of your choice, such as the Chicago Manual of Style, the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, etc.

Include in footnotes the original printed page number as it appears in the document viewer (or in the “Page Description” if no printed page number is visible).

Copy or excerpt the document's bibliographic data from the "Source" line on the document’s home page; or with any page open, click “Page Description” and locate the same information in the “Document Source” field

Include the author and title of the individual document if it is part of a larger source (see examples below).

Be sure to insert the phrase "online facsimile edition at" followed by the document URL as shown on the document home page and in the "Document URL" field of the Page Description.

  • Example 1, footnoting how Sir Francis Drake motivated his crew, on page 154 in document AJ-032:
    • [note number] Francis Drake. “Sir Francis Drake on the California Coast" in Burrage, Henry S. (editor). Early English and French Voyages, Chiefly from Hakluyt, 1534-1608. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1906): 154; online facsimile edition at Accessed September 28, 2003.
  • Example 2, the same document listed in a bibliography:
    • Drake, Francis. "Sir Francis Drake on the California Coast" in Burrage, Henry S. (editor). Early English and French Voyages, Chiefly from Hakluyt, 1534-1608. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1906); online facsimile edition at Accessed September 28, 2003.


Contact Us

National History Day: if you are a National History Day student or teacher, you can discuss your project with others at

American Journeys Web site: if you would like more information or have suggestions or corrections concerning American Journeys, please contact Michael Edmonds at the Wisconsin Historical Society

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