Print ISBN: 978-1-64265-760-9
# of Pages: 600
# of Volumes: 2
Print List Price: $295
e-ISBN: 978-1-64265-763-0
eBook User Price: $295
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Defining Documents in American History: American Citizenship

Editor: Michael Shally-Jensen, Ph.D.
May 2021

This two-volume set examines how today's U.S. citizen was first imagined, how citizenship was established and codified, and how it has been refined over time. Essays also consider barriers to full citizenship, including voting rights, civil rights, prisoner's rights, immigration quotas, and the process of becoming a naturalized citizen.

Slavery is also discussed, as slaves were not considered citizens at all and in fact only counted as three-fifths of man. Constitutional amendments, civil rights legislation, and a parade of court cases both advanced and prevented individuals from achieving citizenship. White women were considered citizens from the nation's earliest days, but they could not vote, hold office, or serve on juries until the determined efforts of suffragists began the process of making all women full citizens with all of its attendant rights, including the right to vote. Native Americans were not officially U.S. citizens until the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924. 

Defining Documents in American History: American Citizenship offers in-depth analysis of 84 primary source documents, tracing the definition and role of citizenship throughout the history of the United States, from the American Revolution to the current immigration debate. These include book excerpts, speeches, political debates, testimony, court rulings, legal texts, legislative acts, essays, newspaper and magazine articles, and interviews. The first volume of this set focuses on the early definition and role of citizenship throughout the history of the United States, from the American Revolution to the current immigration debate. The second volume is dedicated to Asian Americans, Women, the Twentieth Century, and recent controversies. These documents, and more, provide an overview of the history and contemporary issues surrounding citizenship in America in the past and the present.

The material is organized into nine sections, and each section begins with a brief introduc­tion that examines the titular subject before exploring a variety of historical documents.

  • The Development of American Citizenship includes documents that track the early history of American Citizenship, such as the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • American Indians and Citizenship includes documents on Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, the Indian Citizenship Act, and more.
  • African Americans and Citizenship begins with Dred Scott v. Sanford and is followed by such important documents as Plessy v. Ferguson, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Latinos/as and Citizenship pulls from documents such as Walt Whitman: The Spanish Element in Our Nationality, and the DREAM Act of 2010.  
  • Asians, Asian Americans, and Citizenship provides such important documents as the Chinese Exclusion Act, People v. Hall, and Excerpts of the Munson Report.
  • Women and Citizenship includes the Seneca Falls Convention Declaration of Sentiments, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and more.
  • Twentieth-Century Formulations highlights more resources from the 1900’s, such as the Immigration Act of 1917 and Presidential Proclamation 2527: Alien Enemies—Italians.
  • Controversies in Recent Years brings readers into the 21st century with the Executive Order Regarding U.S.-Mexico Border Child Separations, Biden Proclamation Regarding Trump’s Border Wall, and the Civics Test for Naturalization.
  • Special Topics in Citizenship includes Foley v. Connelie, Honorary Citizenship, Advice About Possible Loss of U.S. Citizenship, and more.

Each Historical Document is supported by a critical essay, written by historians and teachers, that includes a Summary Overview, Defining Moment, About the Author, Document Analysis, and Essential Themes. An important feature of each essay is a close reading of the primary source that develops broader themes, such as the author’s rhetorical purpose, social or class position, point of view, and other relevant issues. Each essay also includes a Bibliography and Additional Reading section that provides suggestions for further readings and research.

Appendixes in this book include:

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


View a Full List of Defining Document Titles