... my suggested basic bibliography of Americana. Other Americana mavens of course may have their own basics; and I welcome any additions to or modifications of this list. Americana folks specialize in different areas. One person's essential is another's discard. So I make no claim of authoritativeness. And I haven't attempted to include any literary bibliographies, or sources of 20th century Americana [mainly because I don't know anything about those things].
I don't suggest that each of you has to own all this stuff. But you should be aware of and familiar with them. Buy what you can, and find out where the rest are conveniently located for your research.
1. American Imprints: 1801-1845 [so far]. This series is also known as: Shaw & Shoemaker, American Bibliography A Preliminary Checklist for 1801- ; Shoemaker, A Checklist of American Imprints for 1820-.
2. Howes, Wright: U.S.IANA. A Selective Bibliography in Which are Described 11,620 Uncommon and Significant Books Relating to the Continental Portion of the United States. Revised and Enlarged Edition. New York: Bowker. 1962. This is the bible of Americana bibliographies. You may wish to supplement it with Hartley's 1994 'New Howes.'
3. Evans, Charles: American Bibliography. Available in fourteen volumes, or a small-print single volume issued by Mini-Print Corporation, Metuchen NJ in 1967. The authoritative source of 17th and 18th century American Imprints.
4. Bristol, Roger: Supplement to Charles Evans' American Bibliography. University Press of Virginia. Bibliographical Society of America. 1970.
5. Shipton, Clifford and James Mooney: National Index of American Imprints through 1800. The Short-Title Evans. Two volumes. American Antiquarian Society: 1969. I find this an essential supplement to Evans and Bristol.
6. Sabin, Joseph: A Dictionary of Books Relating to America, from its Discovery to the Present Time. New York: Joseph Sabin. 29 volumes, also printed by Mini-Print Corp. in two-volume small print edition.
7. Molnar, John: Author-Title Index to Joseph Sabin's Dictionary of Books Relating to America. Scarecrow Press: 1974. 3 vols. Essential because you'll bump into Sabin's stone walls without it.
8. Streeter, Thomas: The Celebrated Collection of Americana Formed by the Late Thomas Winthrop Streeter. New York: Parke-Bernet. 1966-1970. Seven volumes plus index.
9. Wagner, Henry and Charles Camp: The Plains and the Rockies A Critical Bibliography of Exploration, Adventure and Travel in the American West 1800-1865. Fourth Edition, revised by Richard Becker. San Francisco: John Howell. 1982.
10. Dictionary of American Biography. 20 vols. plus index. This and the next entry are included so that you'll have sources to figure out the historical context of the book or pamphlet that you're researching.
11. Adams, James: Dictionary of American History. 1940. 5 vols + index.
12. Clark, Thomas: Travels in the Old South. U. of OK Press: 1966. 3 vols.
13. Coulter, Merton: Travels in the Confederate States. U OK Press: 1948.
14. Field, Thomas: An Essay Towards an Indian Bibliography. 1873. Reprinted by William Reese Co. New Haven. 1991.
15. Gephart, Ronald: Revolutionary America 1763-1789. Library of Congress. 1984. 2 vols.
16. Kress Library of Business and Economics Catalogue. Boston: Harvard Grad. School of Business: 1940-'67. 5 vols. + 2 supplements.
17. National Union Catalogue. 752 volumes. Many libraries have it. Don't buy it.
18. Eberstadt, Edward & Sons: The Annotated Eberstadt Catalogs of Americana. 4 vols, Argosy: 1965.
19. Drake, Milton: Almanacs of the U.S. NY: Scarecrow: 1962.
20. Cole, George: Library of E.D. Church. 5 vols. NY: 1907, or Maurizio Martino reprint.
21. Larned, J.N.: The Literature of American History. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin. 1902.
22. Austin, Robert: Early American Medical Imprints. 1668-1820. U.S. Dept of HEW. 1961.
23. Gaines, Pierce: Political Works of Concealed Authorship Relating to the United States 1789-1810 With Attributions. 3d Ed. Shoe String Press. Hamden CT: 1972.
24. Rink, Evald: Technical Americana A Checklist of Technical Publications Printed before 1831. Kraus: 1981.
25. Adams, Thomas R. The American Controversy. A Bibliographical Study of the British Pamphlets About the American Disputes, 1764-1783. Brown U. Press: Bibliog. Soc. of America. 1980. 2 vols.
26. Adams, Thomas R. American Independence. The Growth of an Idea. Brown U. Press: 1965.
27. Miles, William: The Image Makers. A Bibliography of American Presidential Campaign Biographies. Scarecrow: 1979.
28. Work, Monroe: A Bibliography of the Negro in Africa and America. Octagon Books. NY: 1965.
29. Monaghan, Jay: Lincoln Bibliography 1839-1939. IL State Hist. Library: 1943. 2 vols.
30. Storm, Colton: A Catalogue of the Everett D. Graff Collection of Western Americana. Chicago: Newberry Library. 1968.
31. Toronto Public Library: A Bibliography of Canadiana. 1934. One vol. + supplements.
32. Spear, Dorothea: Bibliography of American Directories through 1860. Worcester: AAS. 1961.
33. Parrish, T. Michael & Robt. Willingham Jr.: Confederate Imprints. Austin: Jenkins. 1987.
34. Wheat, Carl: Mapping the Transmississippi West. 6 vols. Original edition is San Francisco: 1957-63. Also available as Martino reprint.
35. Phillips, P. Lee: A List of Maps of America in the Library of Congress... Washington. GPO: 1901.
36. Adams, Ramon: Six-Guns and Saddle Leather. Cleveland. Zubal Reprint. 1982.
37. Adams, Ramon: The Rampaging Herd. A Bibliography of Books and Pamphlets on Men and Events in the Cattle Industry. U of OK Press: 1959; Cleveland. Zubal Reprint. 1982.
38. Rittenhouse, Jack: The Santa Fe Trail. Albuquerque. 1986.
This list is already too long. Bibliographies of imprints by State are generally available. The WPA did major work in this area during the 1930's and 1940's, under the American Imprints Inventory project.
Of the State bibliographies, the ones that I find most useful, in the sense of having significance well beyond the borders of the particular state, are:
39. De Renne, Wymberly: Catalogue of the...De Renne Georgia Library. 3 vols., 1931 + Martino reprint.
40. Streeter, Thomas: Bibliography of Texas 1795-1845. Harvard U. Press: 1955-'60 + Martino reprint.
41. Haynes, Donald: Virginiana in the Printed Book Collections of the Virginia State Library. Richmond: 1975. 2 vols.
42. Byrd, Cecil K.: A Bibliography of Illinois Imprints 1814-1858. Chicago: 1966.
43. Felcone, Joseph J.: New Jersey Books. The Felcone Collection. 2 vols: 1698-1800; 1801-1860. Princeton: 1992 & 1996.