Your teacher has assigned you a research project on U.S. Presidential elections and you're wondering how to get started. Or maybe you want to compare the most recent Presidential elections with those from a different era. This brief guide will provide you with a variety of useful sources.
Duke University's Special Collections Library has an engaging display of U.S. Presidential campaign memorabilia at its America Votes: Presidential Campaign Memorabilia exhibit. You'll find everything from bumper stickers and buttons to sheet music here.
The American Presidency Project was established in 1999 as a collaborative project at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Featuring more than 80,000 documents, this Web resource provides easy access to election information, party platforms, State of the Union addresses, and the Papers of the Presidents.
The primary purpose of The Commission on Presidential Debates is "to sponsor and produce debates for the United States Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates and to undertake research and educational activities relating to the debates." This site furnishes information and, where available, audio/video files on various Presidential candidate debates.
Elections Central - a History of Presidential Elections covers election issues, voter turnout, disputed elections, the popular vote, and the electoral vote for every Presidential election starting from 1789.
Take a break from all those issues and numbers and check out the Presidential campaign commercials at the Museum of the Moving Image's The Living Room Candidate Web site. Here you can view more than 300 Presidential election commercials from every election since 1952.
Although limited to a mere century of U.S. Presidential elections, The Times Looks Back: Presidential Elections 1896-1996 features articles, editorials, quizzes, and results for each election within the selected period.
Think you know American history? What do you think were the most important Presidential elections? Check your selections with those enumerated at the Top Ten Significant Presidential Elections in American History Web site.
Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Statistics has detailed national results for the major and minor candidates for President from 1789 to the present, as well as results by state for the Presidential elections from 1824 to the present. You can also search presidential elections by individual year to find candidates, parties, popular and electoral vote totals, and voter turnout.
Since 1920, the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives has collected and published the official vote counts for federal elections. You'll find the official vote counts from 1920 to the present in .PDF format at the Election Information Web site.
Not sure what exactly the Electoral College does or why we have one? Take a close look at How the Electoral College Works and amaze your friends!
The National Archives and Records Administration has another great tool for researchers at its U.S. Electoral College Web site, including historial election results and an explanation of the Electoral College process.
Need even more information? Go to President Elect: the Unofficial Home of the Electoral College and check out the articles and Frequently Asked Questions sections.
If you're willing to spend a little time and effort with a search engine, you can find some really fascinating and unusual Presidential election resources on the Web. For example, the Archives of Maryland Online features a Web page on the Electoral College including A Brief History of the Electoral College (with pros and cons) and a discussion of How the Electoral College Works.
You can even find resources for specific Presidential elections. Take a look at the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum's Web page on the Presidential Campaign of 1948. You'll find an introduction, vocabulary, follow-up questions, and discussion questions. This site is well-designed for teachers and students.
If your teacher has assigned Presidential elections to you as a research assignment, you'll probably need some magazine or journal articles as well. Go to our list of history databases and select History Resource Center: US. It's a great resource for articles, maps, and multimedia. You'll need your Enoch Pratt Free Library card to access this database outside the library.
Brinkley, Alan. Campaigns: a Century of Presidential Races from the Photo Archives of the New York Times. New York: DK Pub., 2001. XE176.1.B86Q
Guide to U.S. Elections, 5th ed. Washington, D.C: CQ Press, 2005. XJK1967.C662Q
Roberts, Robert North and Scott John Hammond. Encyclopedia of Presidential Campaigns, Slogans, Issues, and Platforms. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004. XE176.1.R6Q
Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M. and Fred L. Israel, eds. History of American Presidential Elections: 1789-2001. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2002. XE183.H58
Shade, William G. and Ballard C. Campbell, eds. American Presidential Campaigns and Elections. Armonk, NY: Sharpe Reference, 2003. XJK1965.A57Q
Vile, John R. Presidential Winners & Losers: Words of Victory and Concession. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2002. XE176.1.V65Q
Wright, Jordan M. Campaigning for President: Memorabilia from the Nation's Finest Private Collection. New York: Smithsonian Books/Collins, 2008. XE176.1.W948Q
This guide should enable you to start your research. If you need further assistance, you can e-mail us or contact us through mail or phone:
Social Science and History Department
Enoch Pratt Free Library
Central Library/State Library Resource Center
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Telephone: (410) 396-5321
Fax: (410) 396-1431