For proximity searching use near/[n], e.g. religious near/30 skeptic* and perhaps a date range.
Contains the full text of some of the twenty million books in the Google.Books project. Unfortunately they do not provide for proximity searching.
For first editions by Melville or his contemporaries, use the library’s catalog, go to Advanced Search, enter author=Melville and location = Hesburgh special collections.
For antebellum manuscrips: http://www.rarebooks.nd.edu/digital/early_american/index.shtml
For Civil War manuscripts: http://www.rarebooks.nd.edu/digital/civil_war/index.shtml
"Based on Joseph Sabin's landmark bibliography, Bibliotheca Americana: A Dictionary of Books Relating to America from Its Discovery to the Present Time.