Welcome to the website for the Routledge Historical Americans series!
Routledge Historical Americans is a series of short, vibrant biographies that illuminate the lives of Americans who have had an impact on the world. Each book includes a short overview of the person’s life and puts that person into historical context through essential primary documents, written both by the subjects and about them. A series website supports the books, containing extra images and documents, links to further research, and where possible, multi-media sources on the subjects. Perfect for including in any course on American History, the books in the Routledge Historical Americans series show the impact everyday people can have on the course of history.
From this page you can find out about any of the books in the series. The books are listed in alphabetical order by the subject’s last name.
Click on the series title to return to the series page.
Frederick Douglass was born a slave in Talbot County, Maryland, in February, 1818. From these humble beginnings, Douglass went on to become a world-famous orator, newspaper editor, and champion of the rights of women and African Americans. He was the most prominent African American activist of the nineteenth century. He remains important in American history because he moved beyond relief at his own personal freedom to dedicating his life to the progress of his race and his country.
Woody Guthrie is the most famous and influential folk music composer and performer in the history of the United States. His most popular song, "This Land is Your Land" has become the country's unofficial national anthem, known to every school child since the 1960s. His influence exceeded the realm of American music, reaching American politics. Guthrie’s music became the soundtrack to the Great Depression, and iconic of the Dust Bowl migrants. Guthrie and his music came to represent those disenfranchised people who remained committed to making better lives for themselves through the promise of the American Dream.
Thurgood Marshall was an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court from 1967 to 1991. He was the first African American to hold that position, and was one of the most influential legal actors of his time. Before being appointed to the Supreme Court by President Lyndon Johnson, Marshall was a lawyer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Federal Judge (1961–1965), and Solicitor General of the United States (1965–1966). Marshall won 29 of 32 cases before the Supreme Court—most notably the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education, which held segregated public schools unconstitutional. Marshall spent his career fighting racial segregation and legal inequality, and his time on the court establishing a record for supporting the “voiceless American.” He left a legacy of change that still affects American society today.
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman presided over one of the most challenging times in American history—the end of World War II and the onset of the Cold War. Thrust into the presidency after Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office, Truman oversaw the transition to a new, postwar world in which the United States wielded the influence of a superpower. With his humble beginnings and straightforward manner, Truman was the personification of a typical American. As president, however, he dealt with decisions that were anything but typical. His presidency saw the decision to drop the atomic bomb, the integration of the military, and the development of an interventionist foreign policy aimed at ‘containing’ Communism, from providing aid in the Marshall Plan to entering the Korean War. In the post-Cold War era, Harry S. Truman: The Coming of the Cold War provides insight into a pivotal moment in history that laid the foundations of today’s politics and international relations.