Welcome to U.S. History, an OpenStax resource. This textbook was written to increase student access to high-quality learning materials, maintaining highest standards of academic rigor at little to no cost.
OpenStax is a nonprofit based at Rice University, and it’s our mission to improve student access to education. Our first openly licensed college textbook was published in 2012, and our library has since scaled to over 25 books for college and AP® courses used by hundreds of thousands of students. OpenStax Tutor, our low-cost personalized learning tool, is being used in college courses throughout the country. Through our partnerships with philanthropic foundations and our alliance with other educational resource organizations, OpenStax is breaking down the most common barriers to learning and empowering students and instructors to succeed.
About OpenStax resources
U.S. History is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY) license, which means that you can distribute, remix, and build upon the content, as long as you provide attribution to OpenStax and its content contributors.
Because our books are openly licensed, you are free to use the entire book or pick and choose the sections that are most relevant to the needs of your course. Feel free to remix the content by assigning your students certain chapters and sections in your syllabus, in the order that you prefer. You can even provide a direct link in your syllabus to the sections in the web view of your book.
Instructors also have the option of creating a customized version of their OpenStax book. The custom version can be made available to students in low-cost print or digital form through their campus bookstore. Visit your book page on OpenStax.org for more information.
Art Attribution in U.S. History
To maximize readability and content flow, art does not include attribution in the text. The art is openly licensed and can be reused. If you are also reusing portions of the OpenStax textbook, you must give attribution to OpenStax.
All OpenStax textbooks undergo a rigorous review process. However, like any professional-grade textbook, errors sometimes occur. Since our books are web based, we can make updates periodically when deemed pedagogically necessary. If you have a correction to suggest, submit it through the link on your book page on OpenStax.org. Subject matter experts review all errata suggestions. OpenStax is committed to remaining transparent about all updates, so you will also find a list of past errata changes on your book page on OpenStax.org.
You can access this textbook for free in web view or PDF through OpenStax.org, and in low-cost print editions.
About U.S. History
U.S. History is designed to meet the scope and sequence requirements of most introductory courses. The text brings forth the people, events, and ideas that have shaped the United States from both the top down (politics, economics, diplomacy) and bottom up (eyewitness accounts, lived experience). U.S. History covers key forces that form the American experience, with particular attention to issues of race, class, and gender. It is designed to provide a balanced approach, both confronting difficult and oppressive aspects of our history and celebrating those who overcame them.
Coverage and scope
To develop U.S. History, we solicited ideas from historians at all levels of higher education, from community colleges to PhD-granting universities. They told us about their courses, students, challenges, resources, and how a textbook can best meet the needs of them and their students.The result is a book that covers the breadth of the chronological history of the United States and also provides the necessary depth to ensure the course is manageable for instructors and students alike.
The pedagogical choices, chapter arrangements, and learning objective fulfillment were developed and vetted with feedback from educators dedicated to the project. They thoroughly read the material and offered critical and detailed commentary. Reviewer feedback centered on achieving equilibrium between the various political, social, and cultural dynamics that permeate history.
While the book is organized primarily chronologically, as needed, material treating different topics or regions over the same time period is spread over multiple chapters. For example, chapters 9, 11, and 12 look at economic, political, social, and cultural developments during the first half of the eighteenth century in the North, West, and South respectively, while chapters 18 to 20 closely examine industrialization, urbanization, and politics in the period after Reconstruction.
In improvements to the originally published version of the text, new contributors have clarified historical events and government policies, and have detailed the related impacts on people. The chapters exploring America’s relationship with and mistreatment of Native American people have been revised to improve the accuracy of the descriptions, remove historical myths, and employ more authentic language. In other parts of the text, additions highlight the contributions of Black women to the Suffrage and the Civil Rights movements. Other additions deepen the descriptions of anti-LGBTQ discrimination and the struggle for LGBTQ rights. Finally, the sections discussing the 1980s have been expanded with additional aspects of the war on drugs, mass incarceration, and more detailed explorations of cultural and political developments.
Throughout the textbook, specific language and terminology have been changed in order to provide a more inclusive, humanizing, and accurate portrayal of identity and experience.
U.S. History features material that takes topics one step further to engage students in historical inquiry.Our features include:
- Americana. This feature explores the significance of artifacts from American pop culture and considers what values, views, and philosophies are reflected in these objects.
- Defining “American”. This feature analyzes primary sources, including documents, speeches, and other writings, to consider important issues of the day while keeping a focus on the theme of what it means to be American.
- My Story. This feature presents first-person accounts (diaries, interviews, letters) of significant or exceptional events from the American experience.
- Click and Explore. This feature is a very brief introduction to a website with an interactive experience, video, or primary sources that help improve student understanding of the material.
Questions for each level of learning
U.S. History offers two types of end-of-module questions for students:
- Review Questions are simple recall questions from each module in the chapter and are in either multiple-choice or open-response format. The answers can be looked up in the text.
- Critical Thinking Questions are higher-level, conceptual questions that ask students to demonstrate their understanding by applying what they have learned in each module to the whole of the chapter. They ask for outside-the-box thinking and reasoning about the concepts pushing students to places they wouldn’t have thought of going themselves.
Answers to Questions in the Book
Students are provided answers to odd-numbered Review Questions in the Answer Key of the book. Answers to even-numbered Review Questions are provided only to instructors in the Instructor Answer Guide via the Instructor Resources page. Answers to Critical Thinking Questions are not provided.
Student and instructor resources
We’ve compiled additional resources for both students and instructors, including Getting Started Guides, an instructor solution guide, and PowerPoint slides. Instructor resources require a verified instructor account, which you can apply for when you log in or create your account on OpenStax.org. Take advantage of these resources to supplement your OpenStax book.
OpenStax partners with the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) to offer Community Hubs on OER Commons – a platform for instructors to share community-created resources that support OpenStax books, free of charge. Through our Community Hubs, instructors can upload their own materials or download resources to use in their own courses, including additional ancillaries, teaching material, multimedia, and relevant course content. We encourage instructors to join the hubs for the subjects most relevant to your teaching and research as an opportunity both to enrich your courses and to engage with other faculty.
To reach the Community Hubs, visit www.oercommons.org/hubs/OpenStax.
OpenStax Partners are our allies in the mission to make high-quality learning materials affordable and accessible to students and instructors everywhere. Their tools integrate seamlessly with our OpenStax titles at a low cost. To access the partner resources for your text, visit your book page on OpenStax.org.
About the authors
Senior contributing authors
P. Scott Corbett, Ventura College
Dr. Corbett’s major fields of study are recent American history and American diplomatic history. He teaches a variety of courses at Ventura College, and he serves as an instructor at California State University’s Channel Islands campus. A passionate educator, Scott has also taught history to university students in Singapore and China.
Jay Precht, Pennsylvania State University, Fayette
Jay Precht is an associate professor of history at Penn State Fayette, where he teaches courses in history and American studies. He earned his doctorate in American history from Arizona State University and worked with the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana Heritage Department as a post-doctoral researcher before accepting his current position. His early research focused on the Coushatta community during the twentieth century and led to publications in Native South, Ethnohistory, and the American Indian Quarterly. Precht is currently researching Native American communities that were legally terminated without authorization from the U.S. Congress.
Volker Janssen, California State University–Fullerton
Born and raised in Germany, Dr. Janssen received his BA from the University of Hamburg and his MA and PhD from the University of California, San Diego. He is a former Fulbright scholar and an active member of Germany's advanced studies foundation "Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes." Volker currently serves as Associate Professor at California State University’s Fullerton campus, where he specializes in the social, economic, and institutional history of California, and more recently, the history of technology.
John M. Lund, Keene State College
Dr. Lund’s primary research focuses on early American history, with a special interest in oaths, Colonial New England, and Atlantic legal cultures. John has over 20 years of teaching experience. In addition to working with students at Keene State College, he lectures at Franklin Pierce University, and serves the online learning community at Southern New Hampshire University.
Todd Pfannestiel, Clarion University
Dr. Pfannestiel is a Professor in the history department of Clarion University in Pennsylvania, where he also holds the position of Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Todd has a strong history of service to his institution, its students, and the community that surrounds it.
Paul Vickery, Oral Roberts University
Educating others is one of Dr. Vickery’s delights, whether in the classroom, through authoring books and articles, or via informal teaching during his travels. He is currently Professor of History at Oral Roberts University, where his emphasis is on the history of ideas, ethics, and the role of the church and theology in national development. Paul reads Portuguese, Italian, French, and Hebrew, and has taught on five continents.
Sylvie Waskiewicz, Lead Editor
Dr. Waskiewicz received her BSBA from Georgetown University and her MA and PhD from the Institute of French Studies at New York University. With over 10 years of teaching experience in English and French history and language, Sylvie left academia to join the ranks of higher education publishing. She has spent the last eight years editing college textbooks and academic journals.
Amy Bix, Iowa State University
Edward Bond, Alabama A&M University
Tammy Byron, Dalton State College
Benjamin Carp, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Sharon Deubreau, Rhodes State College
Gene Fein, Fordham University
Joel Franks, San Jose State University
Raymond Frey, Centenary College
Richard Gianni, Indiana University Northwest
Larry Gragg, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Laura Graves, South Plains College
Elisa Guernsey, Monroe Community College
Thomas Chase Hagood, University of Georgia
Charlotte Haller, Worcester State University
David Head, Spring Hill College
Tamora Hoskisson, Salt Lake Community College
Jean Keller, Palomar College
Kathleen Kennedy, Missouri State University
Mark Klobas, Scottsdale Community College
Ann Kordas, Johnson & Wales University
Stephanie Laffer, Miami International University of Art and Design
Jennifer Lang, Delgado Community College
Jennifer Lawrence, Tarrant County College
Wendy Maier-Sarti, Oakton Community College
Jim McIntyre, Moraine Valley Community College
Marianne McKnight, Salt Lake Community College
Brandon Morgan, Central New Mexico Community College
Caryn Neumann, Miami University of Ohio
Michelle Novak, Houston Community College
Lisa Ossian, Des Moines Area Community College
Paul Ringel, High Point University
Jason Ripper, Everett Community College
Silvana Siddali, Saint Louis University
Brooks Simpson, Arizona State University
Steven Smith, California State University, Fullerton
David Trowbridge, Marshall University
Eugene Van Sickle, University of North Georgia
Hubert van Tuyll, Augusta State University