Print ISBN: 978-1-61925-856-3
# of Pages: 337
# of Volumes: 1
Print List Price: $175
e-ISBN: 978-1-61925-857-0
eBook User Price: $175
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Defining Documents in American History: Civil Rights (1954-2015)

Editor: Michael Shally-Jensen, PhD
January 2016

Defining Documents in American History series, produced by Salem Press, consists of a collection of essays on important historical documents by a diverse range of writers on a broad range of subjects in American history. This established series offers nearly twenty titles ranging from Colonial America to the 1970s.

This volume, Defining Documents in American History: Civil Rights (1954-2015), offers in-depth analysis of a broad range of historical documents and historic events that shaped civil rights’ struggles in American history. This text closely studies more than forty primary source documents and delivers a thorough examination of civil rights movements in the U.S. from 1954 to 2015. The material is organized under five broad categories:

  • African American Civil Rights
  • Women and Equality
  • Latino Civil Rights
  • The Gay Rights Movement
  • Native American Rights

Historical documents provide a compelling view of this and other important aspects of American history. Designed for high school and college students, the aim of the series is to advance historical document studies as an important activity in learning about history.

Essay Format Civil Rights contains 40 primary source documents— many in their entirety. Each document is supported by a critical essay, written by historians and teachers, that includes a Summary Overview, Defining Moment, Author Biography, Document Analysis, and Essential Themes. Readers will appreciate the diversity of the collected texts, including journals, letters, speeches, political and religious sermons, laws, government reports, and trial notes, among other genres. An important feature of each essay is a close reading of the primary source that develops evidence of broader themes, such as the author’s rhetorical purpose, social or class position, point of view, and other relevant issues. In addition, essays are organized by section themes, listed above, highlighting major issues of the period, many of which extend across eras and continue to shape life as we know it around the world. Each section begins with a brief introduction that defines questions and problems underlying the subjects in the historical documents. A brief glossary included at the end of each document highlights keywords important in the study of the primary source. Each essay also includes a Bibliography and Additional Reading section for further research.


  • Chronological List arranges all documents by year.
  • Web Resources is an annotated list of websites that offer valuable supplemental resources.
  • Bibliography lists helpful articles and books for further study.

View a Full List of Defining Document Titles