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Primary Sources

Primary Sources image of older books
What Are Primary Sources?
"Primary sources are documents, images, or artifacts that provide firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning an historical topic under research investigation. Primary sources are original documents created or experienced contemporaneously with the event being researched. Primary sources enable researchers to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period."
Reference: “What Are Primary Sources?” UCI Libraries Mobile Site, 2022,

An A-to-Z list of links to Primary Sources:

100 Milestone Documents - from 1776-1995

African American Perspectives - materials selected from the rare book collection

The American Folklife Centerthis collection includes extensive audiovisual documentation of traditional arts, cultural expressions, and oral histories, offering researchers access to the songs, stories, and other creative expressions of people from diverse communities

America's Founding Documents - Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Constitution

American Presidency Projectover 146,000 non-profit and non-partisan presidential and non-presidential records

American Rhetoric - online speech bank

Archiving Early America - newspapers, maps & writings from 18th century America

The Avalon Project at Yale Law School - documents in law, history, and diplomacy

Child Labor in America - photographs and captions from 1908-1912 - official records of the union and confederate armies; covers 1881-1900

The Coming of the American Revolution - from the Massachusetts Historical Society; 14 lessons include primary source documents

Digital Library on American Slavery - from the University of North Carolina at Greenboro

Documenting the American South - from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library - historical materials chronicling the life and administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower

Ellis Island & Immigration (1880-1920) Prints and Photographs Reading Room - from the Library of Congress

Eurodocs - selected transcriptions, facsimiles and translations

Eyewitness to History - audio clips from people entitled "Voices of the 20th Century"

F.B.I. Records: The Vault includes FBI files released to the public

The Great Depression - collection of photos including dust storms, farms for sale, migrant workers

Hanover Historical Texts Collection - Ancient Greece and Rome, Medieval Europe, Early Modern Europe, Modern Europe, Africa and Asia, America (17th, 18th, 19th and 20th century). (Access provided by Hanover College)

John F. Kennedy Presidential Libraryhistorical materials chronicling mid-20th century politics and the life and administration of John F. Kennedy

Library of Congress Exhibits - search from A to Z

Library of Congress – Primary Source Sets - plus classroom materials

Library of Congress Teachers' Page - classroom materials, themed resources, lesson plans, collection connections, professional development and more!

Life magazine photo collection - search by date or use the advanced search

Maps - over 16,000 maps, searchable by location, dates, subject, language

Medieval Sourcebook - full-text sources on Medieval History

National Archives YouTube Channel

National Humanities Center - "historical documents, literary texts, and works of art – thematically organized with notes and discussion questions"

National Jukebox: Historical Sound Recordings from the Library of Congress

National Museum of American History - exhibitions

National Security Archive - collection of declassified U.S. documents, investigative journalism center, and research institute on international affairs

Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room - from the Library of Congress: includes historical collections from the 19th and 20th century

New York Public Library: Archives & Manuscripts - documents, video, audio

Office of the Federal Register - public papers of the Presidents of the United States, federal laws, and administrative regulations and notices

Popular Songs in American History - from the 17th century – this is a huge collection of audio files!

Primarily History - primary sources blog written by a college librarian

Regional History - exhibits from the National Archives including the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Influenza Epidemic in 1918, the U.S. Southeast region

The Smithsonian Collections - museum exhibitions covering art, history, science, libraries

Talking History - from the University at Albany, an oral history site, including radio shows

Teaching with Documents (and how to analyze primary source documents) - from the National Archive; lesson plans

Thomas Jefferson Digital Archive - over 1700 items, (electronic texts, some color manuscript images; 9,000 quotations arranged by theme, date, topic recipient and place of publication)

TIME Magazine Vault Archives (since 1923)search by year or subject

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database - over 35,000 slaving voyages

United Nations Treaty Collection

United States National Archives - is the nation's record keeper of important federal documents.

World Digital Library - collection of cultural heritage materials from around the world

World War II in Color - gallery site full of photos for download

World War II Military Situation Maps - browse the collection by title, subject or date; from the Library of Congress