Historical Textbooks Research Guide

Researching Textbooks

ERIC - This database is useful for finding research that discusses textbooks from an educational perspective.  Below is an example of how you might start your search.  Feel free to add additional keywords to the third line to focus the search towards your individual topic...

researching textbooks

America: History and Life - This history database can be used to find articles that discuss textbooks and readers from a historical perspective. 

American Periodicals - This database allows you to search the full text of magazines printed between 1741 and 1900. Use this resources to examine historical discussions of textbooks and readers. 

Periodicals Archive Online - This archive indexes articles back to 1770 and can be used to look for historicical discussions about textbooks and readers. 

Google Books - Here you may find discussions and mentions of historic textbooks/readers.  You may also find full text access to textbooks that have been digitized.

Finding Textbooks

From UT Libraries

To find materials in the Textbook & Curriculum collection, watch this tutorial, or follow these steps:

1. Start at the Library Catalog

2. Enter your search terms in the search box at the top.

3. Choose "K-12 Textbooks & Curriculum" from the Location bar. 

4. Set date limits if you're looking for books from specific time periods.

5. If the book you're searching for has a very generic name, it may also help to add author or publisher keywords.

advanced keyword search

For preservation reasons, many of our oldest textbook are housed in the Library Storage Facility.  To request that they be brought to campus for your use, follow these steps...

1. Locate the book you need in the catalog.

2. Click the "Pick It Up" button

3. Enter your EID and complete the screens asking you to specify the item and choose a pickup location.

4. Within 1-2 business days you will receive an email letting you know the requested item is available for pickup at your chosen location.  Unless the item is in disrepair, you'll be able to borrow the book for the standard loan period.


From the Databases and Websites

Many books published before 1923 are no longer protected by copyright.  Some of these texts have been digitized and are freely available online. The following resources to include historic textbooks and readers online:

Early American Imprints

Primary Readers from Archive.org

Readers from Hathitrust (you can limit by date along the left)

Google Books


From Other Libraries or Institutions

Can't find what you want at the UT Libraries or online? Try searching WorldCat.org, a huge shared catalog of U.S. Libraries. If you find materials you'd like to use in your research, request them through InterLibrary Services.   We may be able to find a library who is willing to share a copy.