Try searching the person you are interested in as an AUTHOR in the online catalog.
Try adding diary or letter or correspondence to a keyword search about the person you are interested in.
In the days before text messaging, cell phones, and e-mail- people wrote letters, diaries, and kept paper records of their activities. Many of these resources are available and provide valuable (primary source) descriptions of the life and actions of some key players in American history. Here are just a sampling of some available in the Alkek Library-
A good set of resources when getting started and trying to find a topic/time period/document to start with-
Accounts of travel are also a rich source of material. Many of these in the library catalog and various databases listed in the articles tab above.
This book is a nice bibliography of travel literature over time-
(Note: The library here does not own everything listed in these bibliographies)
Here's an interesting chronology of American Travel Writing-