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Primary Sources  

Primary source formats, search strategies, and web sites
Last Updated: Sep 26, 2011 URL: http://calstatela.libguides.com/primarysources Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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Primary Source Definition

Primary Sources

Primary sources are the first hand evidence left behind by participants or observers at the time of events. 

"Primary sources originate in the time period that historians are studying.  They vary a great deal. They may include personal memoirs, government documents, transcripts of legal proceedings, oral histories and traditions, archaeological and biological evidence, and visual sources like paintings and photographs. " ( Storey, William Kelleher.  Writing History: A guide for Students. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999, p.18).

Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later. Primary sources are characterized by their content, regardless of whether they are available in original format, in microfilm/microfiche, in digital format, or in published format. (Primary Sources at Yale: http://www.yale.edu/collections_collaborative/primarysources/primarysources.html)

Secondary Sources  

"Secondary works reflect on earlier times. Typically, they are books and articles by writers who are interpreting the events and primary sources that you are studying. Secondary works vary a great deal, from books by professional scholars to journalistic accounts.  Evaluate each secondary work on its own merits, particularly on how well it uses primary sources as evidence." (Storey, William Kelleher. Writing History: A guide for Students. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999, p.18-19).

 

 

Examples of Primary Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

Types

 

 

Printed& Published

  • Autobiographies, memoirs, personal narratives
  • Accounts, eyewitnesses
  • Conference proceedings
  • Diaries, letters, correspondences, journals
  • Government documents—laws, cases, treaties
  • Interviews, oral histories, speeches
  • Literature—novel/fictions, poems
  • Records, transcripts
  • Books, such as biographies (not an autobiography), textbooks, Encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks
  • Articles, such as literature reviews, commentaries, research articles in all subject disciplines
  • Criticism of works of literature, art and music

Manuscripts & Archival Material

  • Diaries, letters, correspondences, journals
  • Interviews, oral histories, speeches
  • Artifacts—manufactured items, clothing, furniture,             tools, buildings
  • Organization records

Audio
Visual Materials

  • Cartoons, postcards, posters
  • Films, music
  • Interviews, oral histories, speeches
  • Maps/atlases
  • Photographs

Articles

  • First-hand newspaper and magazine accounts of events

Data

  • Statistics, surveys, opinion polls
  • Scientific data

Internet Sources

  • Emails, text messages, tweets
  • Web pages of primary source materials
 

Format of Primary Sources

 

                   Format  

                                          Description

Books and monographs

 

A monograph is "a systematic and complete treatise on a particular subject" (ALA glossary of library and information science, Chicago: ALA, 1983, p.48), in one or many volumes, complete at the time of publication or published with the intention of being completed at some future date.
 

Serials

 

A serial is a publication that is usually published at regular, established intervals, with the intention of continuing publication indefinitely. Magazines and newspapers -- often offer the most immediate published accounts of and reactions to historical events. The important thing is to distinguish between material written at the time of an event as a kind of report, and material written much later, as historical analysis.

Government documents

Government documents are publications issued by federal, state, municipal and international governments. 

Records of organizations and individuals

The minutes, reports, correspondence, etc. of an organization or agency serve as an ongoing record of the activity and thinking of that organization or agency.  There are many kinds of records, such as: births, deaths, marriages certificates; permits and licenses issued; census data; etc. 
 

Manuscripts

Documents created by individuals, not as employees or representatives of an organization, are called manuscripts or personal papers. These documents can be either hand-written or typed, varying in length from a single note or letter to a full-length book. Include among other things: personal papers, memoirs, autobiographies, correspondence, diaries, letters, artificial collections, etc.
 

Archives

Archival documents may be either personal papers or institutional archives. They could include bulletins, case files, contracts, correspondence, diaries, journals, ledgers, memoirs, memorandums, minutes, photographs, reports, rosters, and videorecordings. 
 

Original art

Single paintings, drawings, watercolors, sculpture, architectural drawings, and plans,

Films

 

Prints

Graphic art, etchings, engravings, lithographs, woodcuts, mezzotints, posters, trade cards, artists' prints, and computer-generated graphics
 

Photographs

Pictures, picture negatives
 

Physical objects

Buildings, furniture, tools, appliances, household items, clothing, etc. 

Digital collections

Digital collections may have been transferred from their original format to a machine-readable form or, may exist only as electronic resources. Data may be stored on disk, computer tape, CD-ROM or from Internet sites.
 

 

Primary Source Search Strategies

Familiarizing Yourself with Background Information

  • Reference Source
    A first step you need to do to find primary materials is to familiarize yourself with the background information on your topic. Library reference collection is a great place to get started. These reference materials will give you a good overview of the topic, will outline the basic historical context, and will help you identify key issues, events, participants, dates, and even keywords needed for you to plan a more informed and efficient search.

    Examples of Reference Sources:
    • Specialized encyclopedias
      • Encyclopedia of of the American Civil War : a political, social, and military history
      • Latin America, history and culture : an encyclopedia for students
      • Encyclopedia of Asian History
    • Chronolgies
      • Chronology of World Hisotry: a Calendar of Principal Events from 3000 BC to AD 1976
      • The Timetables of History: a Horizontal Linkage of People and Events
    • Factbooks
      • Encyclopedia of American Facts and Dates
    • Biographical dictionaries and encyclopedias
      • Dictionary of World Biography
      • Current Biography (1940-present)
    • Specialized bibliographies and guides to research
      • Bibliographies in American History: Guide to Materials for Research
      • Sources of Information for Historical Research
      • A Reference Guide to Latin American history
  • Textbooks and Journal Articles
    Textbooks and journal articles (especially those with extensive bibliographies) and other secondary sources can provide you background informaiton and clues about the event, participants involved, as well as source of materials useful for your research.

    To search for journal articles, use appropriate databases listed in the database page from the Library Web (
    http://www.calstatela.edu/library/databases.htm).

    For general history topics, you can use the following online databases to find articles:
    • America: History & Life
    • Historical Abstracts
    • JSTOR
    • Project Muse
    • Humanities Abstracts
    • Academic Search Premier

Where to Find?
Primary sources may be in their original format or may have been reproduced at a later date in a different format. Library Catalogs, electronic databases, and the Web are tools can be used to find primary sources.

Tool
What to Find
Library Catalogs To find primary sources in the libraries, EXECPT ARTICLES, use the Library Catalog. Uisng the catalog, you can find primary source materials such as, addresses, correspondences, diaries, documents, eyewitnesses, interviews, maps, music scores, periodicals, personal narratives, photographs, speeches, and sound recording.      
Online Databases

Some primary sources are digitized in subscription databases:

Web

For primary sources on the Web, see the selective list of Primary Sources on the Web or search the Web using search engines. For important advice on finding and evaluating primary sources on the Web, see Using Primary Sources on the Web from the History Section of the Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association.

Types of Primary Source

Where to Search

Printed & Published

Addresses, autobiographies, correspondences, diaries, documents, evidence, events, eyewitnesses, interviews, letters, memoirs, oral history, personal narratives, speeches, transcripts, cartoons, posters, etc.


Use Library Catalog Advanced Search.

Search by topic (in most cases, names of events) and add the appropriate type of primary source. Use AND to link the topic and the source type.

Formula

material type + keyword(s) of topic

Examples:
  • diaries and dust bowl
  • personal narratives and Korean War
  • interviews and japanese americans
Newspaper articles, advertisements, cartoons etc. from the time period you're researching

For newspaper articles or other types of materials on newspapers:

Search electronic newspaper databases such as, Historical Los Angeles Times, Historical New York Times,  Newsstand, London Times Digital Archive (1785-1985)Current Digist of the Russian Press


Magazine articles from the time period you are researching

For magazine articles or other type of materials in magazines:

Use an article database, such as Readers Guide Retro (1890-1982) to locate either full text articles or citations (title, author, name of the magazine, date, volume, page number) of the relevant articles.

If you have the citation already, use Journal Name Search to determine whether the magazine is available at CSULA Library.

Government Documents

Search the Library Catalog Advanced Search using Subject/Keyword and limit Collection Type to Government Documents. For complete records of government agencies, go to Government Information Resources & Services page at http://calstatela.libguides.com/GIS. For Congressional publication, go to Congressional Publications database.

Literature

Consult one of the following printed indexes in the library:

  • Fiction Catalog   Z5916 .W74
  • Short Story Index   PN6014 S56b
  • Play Index   Z5781.P53
Internet Sources

For primary sources on the Web, see the selective list of Primary Sources on the Web or search the Web using search engines.

For important advice on finding and evaluating primary sources on the Web, see Using Primary Sources on the Web from the History Section of the Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association.

Audio/Video Materials

Search the Library Catalog Advanced Search using Subject/Keyword and limit Collection Format to Videos, DVDs, or Sound Recordings.

The library have subscriptions to streaming video and audio.  You can check the following media databases:

Materials in other libraries

Multi-Search, or Open WorldCat provides catalog access to 110+ million holdings worldwide. Includes catalog records for books, journals, films, sound recordings, videos, etc. It is a good tool for you to find books in your local libraries or other libraries. Since many primary source materials are rare books hosted in library archives or special collections, these items may not be borrowed through the interlibrary loan service. Open WorldCat helps you identify which library has a particular item, so you can plan to make a trip to a local library to use the item.

 
 

GENEARAL PRIMARY SOURCES - UNITED STATES

American Memory http://memory.loc.gov/
Consists of collections of primary source and archival material relating to American culture and history. Topics include: African American Civil War, Conservation Movement, Continental Congress, Farm Security Administration, Architectural History, Early Motion Pictures, Variety Stage, Woman Suffrage, the papers of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Today in History, Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies, 1789-Present, and more.

American Memory Timeline
  http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpedu/features/timeline/
Primary sources for seven time periods of United States history are provided at this site covering 1783-1968. Each period is subdivided into various topics and contains an overview. Included are images, letters, lyrics, interviews, and more.

The American Presidency Project http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu
This project contains a searchable database of tens of thousands of documents from U.S. presidents from 1789 to the present. It covers inaugural addresses, press briefings, signing statements, and debates. Also features data on topics such as popularity and number of public appearances, election results back to 1828, and an archive of audio and video clips.

American Treasures of the Library of Congress  http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/
An unprecedented permanent exhibition of the rarest, most interesting or significant items relating to America's past.

Avalon Project at the Yale Law School: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy http://avalon.law.yale.edu/default.asp
The project contains digital documents relevant to the fields of Law, History, Economics, Politics, Diplomacy and Government from pre-18th Century to current.

Chronicling America from the Library of Congress and National Endowment for the Humanities
http://www.loc.gov/chroniclingamerica/
This partnership has the admirable goal of digitizing newspapers from all 50 states for 1836-1922. At this point in its development, only selected states (CA, DC, FL, KY, NY, UT and VA) are available for 1900-1910. Publication and topical information is available for papers published since 1690-present in a separate section.

A Chronology of US Historical Documents 
http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/
US historical documents arranged from pre-colonial era to present. 

Digital History http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/
Provides learning and teaching resources from online textbook, primary sources, ethnic voices to special topics and reference materials on all periods of United States History.

The Digital Public Library of America http://dp.la/
"The DPLA offers a single point of access to millions of items—photographs, manuscripts, books, sounds, moving images, and more—from libraries, archives, and museums around the United States. Users can browse and search the DPLA’s collections by timeline, map, format, and topic."

Eighteenth-Century Studies  http://eserver.org/18th/
Covers archives works of the eighteenth century from the perspectives of literary and cultural studies. Novels, plays, memoirs, treatises and poems of the period are kept here (in some cases, influential texts from before 1700 or after 1800 as well), along with modern criticism.

Emma Goldman Papers https://archive.org/details/emmagoldmanpapers
Emma Goldman (1869–1940) stands as a major figure in the history of American radicalism and feminism. An influential and well-known anarchist of her day, Goldman was an early advocate of free speech, birth control, women's equality and independence, and union organization. The Emma Goldman papers feature over 300 letters, primarily written by Emma Goldman, and other anarchists, activists, and thinkers are represented as authors as well, including Alexander Berkman, Eugene Debs, Harry Kelly, Alexander Shapiro, and the Socialist Party of New England.

Harvard Open Collections http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/
The Open Collections provide online access to historical resources from Harvard's renowned libraries, archives, and museums. OCP's highly specialized “open collections” are developed through careful collaborations among Harvard's distinguished faculty, librarians, and curators. Three open collections have been launched since 2004: Women Working, 1800-1930, Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930, and Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics. Two additional collections are under development now: the Islamic Heritage Project, and Organizing Our World: Sponsored Exploration and Scientific Discovery in the Modern Age.

History Matters http://historymatters.gmu.edu/browse/wwwhistory/
A highly regarded gateway to web resources as well as a repository of unique teaching materials, first-person primary documents, and guides to analyzing historical evidence for students and teachers of American history.

Internet Sites with Primary Sources for U.S. History http://libguides.bgsu.edu/content.php?pid=58961&sid=449734
A collection of pages that include primary sources for the study of U.S. history from Bowling Green State University.

Lives, the Biography Resource - http://amillionlives.com/
Extensive, annotated directory of links to sites that focus on the lives of individuals or groups of people, worthwhile collections of links to other biographical resources, primary biographical source material such as images, diaries, memoirs, correspondence, interviews, oral histories, etc., and good biographical dictionaries. There are special pages featuring African Americans, Women, U.S. Civil War, Holocaust Survivors and Rescuers, and Canadians. In addition there are indexes by collections, professions, eras, regions, and criticism, as well as by individual.

Making of America
http://moa.umdl.umich.edu/
Making of America (MOA) is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. The collection currently contains approximately 8,500 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints. The project represents a major collaborative endeavor in preservation and electronic access to historical texts.

National Archives and Records Administration http://www.archives.gov/
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper. The agency keeps documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government.

National Security Archive http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/index.html 
The National Security Archive combines a unique range of functions: investigative journalism center, research institute on international affairs, library and archive of declassified U.S. documents.

Nineteenth Century Documents Project http://eweb.furman.edu/~benson/docs/
When completed this collection will include accurate transcriptions of many important and representative primary texts from nineteenth century American history, with special emphasis on those sources that shed light on sectional conflict and transformations in regional identity. 

Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/
The Project contains free eBooks or etexts. There are more than 10.000 eBooks in the present collection. Most of these eBooks are older literary works that are in the public domain in the United States. All may be freely downloaded and read, and redistributed for non-commercial use.

Repositories of Primary Sources
http://webpages.uidaho.edu/special-collections/other.Repositories.html
This site contains links to over 5,000 Web sites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources for the research scholar.Access is by region or by an alphabetical index of state, province, or country.

U.S. Founding Documents https://www.congress.gov/founding-documents
A collection of federalists' essays.

 

General Primary Sources - World

Asia for Educators -- Columbia University http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/tps/1900.htm
Half century (1900-1950) of crisis and achievement in Asia. 

Eurodocs http://eudocs.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Main_Page
Selected transcriptions, facsimiles, translations from Western Europe.

In the First Person http://www.alexanderstreet7.com/firp/
Index to Letters, Diaries, Oral Histories, and Personal Narratives.

EyeWitness to History http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/
History Through the Eyes of Those who Lived it. Eyewitness accounts organized by date starting with Ancient Greece.

German Propoganda Archive http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/
Propaganda was central to Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic. The Web site includes both propaganda itself and material produced for the guidance of propagandists.

The Great Hunger Archive, An Gorta Mor http://www.thegreathunger.org/html/main/center.htm
A joint project of the Ireland Studies Program at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut and Kerry County Library, Ireland, to provide a comprehensive coverage or listing of archival material relating to the famine in Ireland in the 1840s.

Hanover Historical Texts Project http://history.hanover.edu/project.html
A working-in-progress project covers documents from ancient Greece to the 20th Century.

Internet History Sourcebook http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/index.asp
The  Internet History Sourcebooks Project is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented for educational use. It covers ancient, medieval, and modern time periods and includes the following regions and topics: African, East Asian, Global, Indian, Jewish, Islamic, Lesbian/Gay, Science, and Women.   

Middle East Peace Process Documents http://www.mideastweb.org/history.htm
It covers Israel and Palestine, Middle East historical and peace process source documents.

The Nanking Massacre Project -- Yale University http://divinity-adhoc.library.yale.edu/Nanking/index.html
A Digital Archive of Documents & Photographs from American Missionaries Who Witnessed the Rape of Nanking. 

Perseus Digital Library  http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/
Digital library of resources for the study of the ancient world. Originally begun with coverage of the Archaic and Classical Greek world, has now expanded to Latin text and tools, Renaissance materials, and Papyri. Contains hundreds of texts by the major ancient authors and lexica and morphological databases and catalog entries for over 2,800 vases, sculptures, coins, buildings, and sites, including over 13,000 photographs of such objects.

Slave Voyages (The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database)
http://www.slavevoyages.org/tast/index.faces
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database has information on almost 35,000 slaving vogages that forcibly embarked over 10 million Africans for transport to the Americas between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. It offers researchers, students and the general public a chance to rediscover the reality of one of the largest forced movements of peoples in world history.

United Nations Treaty Collection http://treaties.un.org/
A collection of treaties and international agreements registered or filed and recorded with and published by the Secretariat since 1946.

World History Sources http://chnm.gmu.edu/whm/searchwhm.php
Reflects three approaches central to current world history scholarship: an emphasis on comparative issues rather than civilizations in isolation; a focus on contacts among different societies and the economic, social, and cultural consequences of those contacts; and an attentiveness to “global” forces that transcend individual societies or even societies in mutual contact—forces such as technology diffusion, migration, disease transmission, extension and realignments of trade routes, or missionary outreach.

 

Historical Newspapers

Chronicling America (1880-1922) http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
This site allows you to search and view newspaper pages from 1880-1922 from the following states: Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. It also allows you to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

Historical Los Angeles Times (1881-1985)
http://www.calstatela.edu/library/dbs/~L8.htm
(Library subscription database, login required from off campus)
The Los Angeles Times offers completely searchable full text and full image coverage from 1881-1985. It gives quick and accurate Web access to articles, editorials, classified ads, comics, cartoons, photos, maps, and graphics. The collection provides access to every page from every available issue.

Historical New York Times (1851-2005) http://www.calstatela.edu/library/dbs/~h10.htm
(Library subscription database, login required from off campus)
The New York Times offers completely searchable full text and full image coverage from 1851-2005. It gives quick and accurate Web access to articles, editorials, classified ads, comics, cartoons, photos, maps, and graphics. The collection provides access to every page from every available issue.

Times Digital Archive (1785-1985) http://www.calstatela.edu/library/dbs/~t8.htm
(Library subscription database, login required from off campus)
The Times Digital Archive has millions of articles from the London Times. The entire newspaper is captured, with all articles, advertisements and illustrations/photos divided into categories to facilitate searching.

Current Digest of the Russian Press (CDRP) (1949-current) Current Digest of the Russian Press (CDRP)
(Library subscription database, login required from off campus)
Published weekly since 1949, The Current Digest of the Russian Press Digital Archive paints a broad picture of Soviet and post-Soviet times, including coverage of domestic affairs and social issues. Articles translated for The Current Digest include important news and comments from the leading dailies and government reports of the day. During the Soviet era, hundreds of other special interest journals and authoritative sources were also scoured for relevant articles to include.

ICON: International Coliation on Newspapers
http://icon.crl.edu/digitization.htm#IC
This page provides links to past, present, and prospective digitization projects of historic newspapers. Only those newspapers without the dollar icon are for free access.

ICON Database of International Newspapers
http://icon.crl.edu/database.php
The ICON Database of International Newspapers is a freely accessible electronic resource intended to provide reliable information on newspapers published outside of the United States. It includes bibliographic descriptions of titles as well as specific information on institutions’ holdings of the same. The database serves as a central locus for information on international newspaper collections available in North American libraries and in selected libraries outside North America, providing a tool for resource discovery, access, and collection management.  

U.S. Historical Newspapers (a collection of historical newspapers from ICON Web)
http://icon.crl.edu/digitization.htm#US
The ICON provides a comprehensive list of U.S. newspapers available on the internet. Only those newspapers without the dollar icon are for free access.

 

Legal Documents

Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/continental/
The Continental Congress Broadside Collection (253 titles) and the Constitutional Convention Broadside Collection (21 titles) contain 274 documents relating to the work of Congress and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. Items include extracts of the journals of Congress, resolutions, proclamations, committee reports, treaties, and early printed versions of the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Most broadsides are one page in length; others range from 1 to 28 pages. A number of these items contain manuscript annotations not recorded elsewhere that offer insight into the delicate process of creating consensus. In many cases, multiple copies bearing manuscript annotations are available to compare and contrast.

FedWorld/FLITE U.S. Supreme Court Decisions http://www.fedworld.gov/supcourt/index.htm
Full text of Supreme Court Decisions issued between 1937 and 1975.

Foreign Governments: Constitutions, Laws and Treaties http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/forcons.html

Founders' Constitution http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/
A collection of thoughts, opinions, and arguments of the Founders

Landmark Supreme Court Cases http://www.landmarkcases.org/
It covers landmark Supreme Court cases including a full range of resources and activities to support the teaching and learning of landmark Supreme Court cases.

Westlaw Campus
From the
Library Web's Database page, select Westlaw Campus. Full text opinions of all Supreme Court cases since 1790 and all state cases. In addition, it provides access to West's vast collection of statutes, case law materials, public records, and other legal resources, along with current news articles and business information. (CSULA electronic database, login required).

 

Oral History & Speeches

American Rhetoric: Online Speech Bank http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speechbank.htm
THE ONLINE SPEECH BANK is an index to and growing database of 5000+ full text, audio and video (streaming) versions of public speeches, sermons, legal proceedings, lectures, debates, interviews, other recorded media events, and more.

Douglass--Archives of American Public Address http://douglassarchives.org/
Douglass is an electronic archive of American oratory and related documents. It is intended to serve general scholarship and courses in American rhetorical history at Northwestern University.

Historical Voices http://www.historicalvoices.org/
A fully searchable database of spoken word collections spanning the 20th century.

History Channel: Speeches http://www.historychannel.com/speeches/index.html
A collection of speeches is drawn from the most famous broadcasts and recordings of the twentieth century.

Link Library (of personal experience pages)  http://www.justpublications.org/linklib/index.cgi
An archive of primary source materials. Includes first-hand information as well as oral history resources and art projects based on people's experiences. 

Oral History Online! - http://www.tei-c.org/Applications/oh01.xml
These are the topics and some of the interviewees: Suffragists (Alice Paul), Disabled Persons Independence Movement (Hale Zukas); Health Care, Science, and Technology (Barbara Honeyman Heath Roll); University History Series (Arleigh Williams); University of California Black Alumni Series (Lionel Wilson); and the Earl Warren Oral History Project (Edmund G. Brown, Sr.). The searchable transcriptions are from the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.

Talking History http://www.talkinghistory.org
A collection of audio documentaries, speeches, debates, oral histories, conference sessions, commentaries, archival audio sources, and other aural history resources as is available anywhere.

 

Public Records & Government Documents

NARA 100 Milestone Documents http://www.ourdocuments.gov/content.php?page=milestone
A list of 100 milestone documents, compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration, and drawn primarily from its nationwide holdings. The documents chronicle United States history from 1776 to 1965.

Core Documents of U.S Democracy http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/locators/coredocs/index.html
A core group of current and historical Government publications define our democratic society.

National Archives and Records Administration http://www.nara.gov/
Find holdings by federal government organization, media, location, and topics.

United States Historical Census Data  http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/census/
The data presented here describe the people and the economy of the US for each state and county from 1790 to 1960.

U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates 1774-1873 http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lawhome.html
A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation consists of a linked set of published congressional records of the United States of America from the Continental Congress through the 43rd Congress, 1774-1875.

 

Visual Materials

Ad Access Database (advertisements) http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/adaccess/browse.html
The Ad*Access project consists of five main subject categories: Beauty and Hygiene, Radio, Television, Transportation, and World War II from 1911 to 1957.

America from the Great Depression to World War II  http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/fsowhome.html
55,000 black and white (more coming) and 1600 color photographs from the Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information collection have been digitized. Includes scenes of rural and small-town life, migrant labor, the effects of the Great Depression, and mobilization for World War II.  Part of the American Memory series from Library of Congress.

America's First Look into the Camera  http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/daghtml/daghome.html
Subtitled Daguerreotype Portraits and Views, 1839 - 1864, this site is a searchable and browsable collection of more than 650 photographs taken between 1839 and 1864. The majority are portraits taken by the Mathew Brady studio. There are also photographic views of buildings and monuments in the Washington-Baltimore area and street scenes in Philadelphia. Part of American Memory from the Library of Congress. 

America in Caricature 1765-1865 http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/cartoon/cartoons.html
The caricatures depict times of turbulence in American history and range in date from the Revolutionary War to the War of 1812 and to the presidential elections of 1860 and 1864.

American Landscape and Architectural Design, 1850-1920 
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award97/mhsdhtml/aladhome.html

This searchable or browsable "collection of approximately 2800 lantern slides represents an historical view of American buildings and landscapes built during the period 1850-1920." It includes the work of Frederick Law Olmstead, designer of New York's Central Park. It also contains "views of cities, specific buildings, parks, estates and gardens, including a complete history of Boston's Park System." There are images of plans, maps, and models. From the Library of Congress' American Memory Project.

American Posters of World War I http://gulib.georgetown.edu/dept/speccoll/guac/amposter_99/
American Posters of World War One from the collection of Roger N. Mohovich

Baldy Editorial Cartoon Database: 1946-82, 1997http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/baldy.html
A digital database with approximately 2,500 cartoons from the collection.

By the People, For the People  http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/wpaposters/wpahome.html
Subtitled Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943, this searchable site contains over 900 posters from Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. Search by keyword or browse by subject or creator. Full descriptive information is provided. Created in silk-screen, lithograph, and woodcut mediums, they were "designed to publicize health and safety programs; cultural programs including art exhibitions, theatrical, and musical performances; travel and tourism; educational programs; and community activities in seventeen states and the District of Columbia."  From the Library of Congress' American Memory Project.

By Popular Demand (Presidential portraits) http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/odmdhtml/preshome.html
A set of 156 portraits of presidents and first ladies

Emergence of Advertising in America http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/eaa/
The Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850 - 1920 (EAA) presents over 9,000 images, with database information, relating to the early history of advertising in the United States. The materials, drawn from the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University, provide a significant and informative perspective on the early evolution of this most ubiquitous feature of modern American business and culture.

Internet Movie Database  http://us.imdb.com/
The
most comprehensive movie database on or off the Internet. It covers over 250,000 movies,  video, TV movies and TV shows, 500,000 actors, and 50,000 directors. Information includes filmographies for all professions in the industry; plot summaries; character names; movie ratings; running times; trivia; quotes etc. You can find a list of historical movies by using Browse--Facts & Trivia--Titles by year

Labor History Cartoons http://images.library.pitt.edu/f/fredwright/ 
Fred Wright was an American labor cartoonist and activist.  From 1939 until his death in 1984, Wright created thousands of cartoons reflecting the politics and labor issues of the day, which were featured in newspapers, union publications, and overseas union activism. 

LIFE Photo Archive Hosted by Google http://images.google.com/hosted/life
Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today.

National Museum of American History (Smithsonian) http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/index.cfm
The National Museum of American History collects artifacts of all kinds—from gowns to locomotives—to preserve for the American people an enduring record of their past. The Museum has more than 3 million artifacts in its collection. 

New York Public Library Digital Library http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/index.cfm
A collection of over 337,000 images from primary sources and printed rarities including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs, illustrated books, and printed ephemera.

New York Public Library Online Exhibition http://www.nypl.org/events/online-exhibitions
Web sites created by NYPL based on some of its physical exhibitions presented at its research centers, as well as a number of web-only presentations based on its collections.

New York Public Library Public Domain Collection https://www.nypl.org/research/collections/digital-collections/public-domain
The collection contains 180,000 of digitized items in the NYPL's Digital Collection. 

OAlster http://mimas.calstatela.edu/login?url=http://firstsearch.oclc.org/fsip?dbname=OAIster (Off campus users require NIS login) 
OAIster is a union catalog of digital records with more than 19 million items from more than 1,000 contributors. Contains digital resources from open archive collections. Records contain a digital object link allowing users access to the object in a single click. Update quarterly.

Online Archive of California  http://www.oac.cdlib.org/
The Online Archive of California (OAC) provides free public access to detailed descriptions of primary resource collections maintained by more than 150 contributing institutions including libraries, special collections, archives, historical societies, and museums throughout California and collections maintained by the 10 University of California (UC) campuses. 

Politicalcartoons.com http://www.politicalcartoons.com/
A collection of searchable political cartoons.

Slave Voyages (The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database)
http://www.slavevoyages.org/tast/index.faces
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database has information on almost 35,000 slaving vogages that forcibly embarked over 10 million Africans for transport to the Americas between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. It offers researchers, students and the general public a chance to rediscover the reality of one of the largest forced movements of peoples in world history.

The Theatre & Performance Collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections
The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity. The Museum holds many of the UK's national collections and houses some of the greatest resources for the study of architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewellery, glass, ceramics, book arts, Asian art and design, theatre and performance.

They Drew Fire: Combat Artists of World War II http://www.pbs.org/theydrewfire/
A collection of more than 12,000 pieces of artwork by combat artists during World War II.

World War II in Color http://www.ww2incolor.com/
A collection of photos and images of World War II in color.

 

Historical Maps

American Memory Maps Collection http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/gmdhtml/gmdhome.html
An American map collection 1500-2004

David Ramsey Historical Map Collection http://www.davidrumsey.com/
The historical map collection has over 22,000 maps and images online. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century North American and South American maps and other cartographic materials. Historic maps of the World, Europe, Asia, and Africa are also represented.

Historical Atlas of the 20th Century http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/20centry.htm#General

Sanborn Maps http://www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/sanborn/index.php
"The Sanborn map collection consists of a uniform series of large-scale maps, dating from 1867 to the present and depicting the commercial, industrial, and residential sections of some twelve thousand cities and towns in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
The maps were designed to assist fire insurance agents in determining the degree of hazard associated with a particular property and therefore show the size, shape, and construction of dwellings, commercial buildings, and factories as well as fire walls, locations of windows and doors, sprinkler systems, and types of roofs. The maps also indicate widths and names of streets, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers. They show the locations of water mains, giving their dimensions, and of fire alarm boxes and hydrants."

University of Texas Historical Maps http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/map_sites/hist_sites.html
 

Historical Music

Historic American Sheet Music 1850-1920
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award97/ncdhtml/hasmhome.html
The Historic American Sheet Music collection presents 3,042 pieces of sheet music drawn from the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University, which holds an important, representative, and comprehensive collection of nineteenth and early twentieth century American sheet music. This selection presents a significant perspective on American history and culture through a variety of music types including bel canto, minstrel songs, protest songs, sentimental songs, patriotic and political songs, plantation songs, spirituals, dance music, songs from vaudeville and musicals, "Tin pan alley" songs, and songs from World War I.

Historic American Sheet Music Project 
http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/sheetmusic/
Digitized images of over 3000 pieces of American sheet music from 1850 to 1920 are presented, along with their full-color cover art and advertisements, in this searchable index. Search for specific criteria such as subject or date, or browse by cover. From The Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University.
 

Events Specific Primary Source Web Sites

American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/wpa/wpahome.html
A narrative collection of over 2,300 former slaves from across the American South.

Campaign Literature Archive - A Century of Los Angeles Election
http://digital.library.ucla.edu/campaign/
The UCLA Online Campaign Literature Archive presents a subset of the materials in the complete Campaign Literature Collection hosted in the UCLA Library. It contains copies of all archived websites plus scanned images of selected print materials. Currently, this includes all elections from 1908 to 1939, and some materials from 1940 and 2000.

Civil War Women--Primary Sources http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/women/cwdocs.html
This site contains diaries, letters, documents, photographs of women during Civil War.

Cold War International History Project http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/

COLLAGE: Collections Online: A Digital of American Immigration and Ethnic History
http://www.ihrc.umn.edu/collage/index.htm

From the Immigration History Research Center at University of Minnesota, a large searchable collection of digitized images on a variety of topics.

Ellis Island Database Search http://stevemorse.org/spmorse/ellis
A searchable database for Ellis Island passengers arrival records.

Eyewitness to Labor History http://www.nyu.edu/library/bobst/collections/exhibits/tam/reiss/opener.html
An online exhibit of labor history

Gulf War: An Oral History http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/gulf/
From tariq aziz to norman schwarzkopf, from colin powell to margaret thatcher, twenty top decision makers, military commanders, Iiraqis and analysts examine the war.
It also contains firsthand accounts of soldiers and pilots in the battlefield who were captured by the Iraqis and interrogated.

Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive http://jarda.cdlib.org/
Over 10,000 images, including photographic prints, negatives, drawings, and watercolor paintings, can be searched and browsed.

Kappler's Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties http://digital.library.okstate.edu/kappler/
A list of laws and treaties pertaining to Indian Affairs.

Labor History Web Links on Librarians' Internet Index
http://www.lii.org/pub/subtopic/2441
A selected list of United States labor history by librarians

Labor History Web Links http://www3.niu.edu/~td0raf1/labor/index.htm#_Revolutionary_Era_to
Developed for Labor and Working Class History Association by Rosemary Feurer, Northern Illinois University

Labor Archives in the United States and Canada (Directory)
http://www.archivists.org/saagroups/labor/Labor_Archives_Directory.asp
This directory updates the work carried out almost ten years ago by the staff at the Wagner Labor Archives in New York City. A survey then conducted identified "archivists, librarians, and labor union staff who are collecting paper; audio-visual materials, and artifacts that document the history of the trade union movement in the United States." This directory includes repositories with partial holdings relating to labor and workers, as well as repositories whose whole holdings pertain to labor.

New Deal Network http://newdeal.feri.org/
The Web site contains over 900 articles, speeches, letters and other texts, organized by subject, date and author. It also hosts over 5000 Great Depression era images from the National Archives, the FDR Library and many other sources.

Private Art http://www.private-art.com/
A collection of WWII Letters to and from the home front

The Valley of the Shadow http://valley.vcdh.virginia.edu/
The Valley Project details life in two American communities, one Northern and one Southern, from the time of John Brown's Raid through the era of Reconstruction. In this digital archive you may explore thousands of original letters and diaries, newspapers and speeches, census and church records, left by men and women in Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Giving voice to hundreds of individual people, the Valley Project tells forgotten stories of life during the era of the Civil War.

Veterans' History Project http://www.loc.gov/folklife/vets/
A searchable database of 1,500 veteran history collections.

War Stories http://www.newseum.org/warstories/
Journalists discuss what they have seen and heard while covering conflicts.

Women and Social Movement in the United States, 1600-2000
http://womhist.binghamton.edu/
Organized around 52 document projects with over 1,250 primary documents, the Women and Social Movements website offers new ways for students, teachers, and scholars to study American History.

Women History on Librarians' Internet Index
http://www.lii.org/pub/htdocs/search?action=show;search=women%20history%20;searchtype=keywords
A selected list of women history by librarians

Women Working 1800-1930 (Harvard University Library)
http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/ww/
The Open Collections Program focuses on women's role in the United States economy and provides access to digitized historical, manuscript, and image resources selected from Harvard University's library and museum collections. The collection features approximately 500,000 digitized pages and images including: 7,500 pages of manuscripts, 3,500 books and pamphlets, and 1,200 photographs

World War I Trenches on the Web http://www.worldwar1.com/
This site contains information on the people, places, and events that comprised one of the worst calamities of modern history.

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