Editor’s Introduction:

This book is the result of students who have endeavored, over the semesters, to follow links to the public domain locations of the texts I assigned in the Survey of American Literature I course. The ease with which works in the public domain can be digitally accessed has enabled this book exist. In it, you will find a collection of texts that represent the diverse literary cannon that colleges and universities collectively refer to as American Literature.

The authors and texts here are representative of the many writers who were writing throughout the colonization and development of what we now consider the United States of America. The text begins with a selection of Native American stories, which passed down orally for many years before they were committed to paper around the turn of the 20th century. I have included these to give a context to the portrayal of the Native Americans that is provided in the early texts written by explorers and colonists, as well as to acknowledge the vast array of cultures and stories that were present in this continent when the first explorers arrived. From there, the text is organized chronologically. At first, most of the texts are non-fiction, documenting the experiences of traveling to and settling in a new world. Some of these authors will be familiar to you, as they also figure prominently in early American history. Several historical documents are included within this collection, often excerpted from the larger complete document. This text represents a variety of genre, from letters, personal narratives, and speeches to poetry, sketches, and fiction. My hope is that you find this collection useful, interesting, and enlightening.

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