This is the "Finding Primary Sources" page of the "HIST 100 - Prof. Rios" guide.
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Last Updated: Oct 9, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
Finding Primary Sources Print Page

Primary Sources

Primary Sources are documents or objects that provide first-hand evidence on a topic. 

Examples include:

  • Goverment documents (laws, cases, treaties, etc)
  • Diaries, letters and correspondence
  • Autobiographies and memoirs
  • Original works of art and literature
  • Oral histories
  • Photographs 
  • Interviews
  • First-hand reporting in newspapers and magazines
  • Statistics, surveys and opinion polls

Library Catalog

Search the Library's Online Catalog: (your search results will open in a new window):

When searching for primary sources in the Library Catalog, try searching for a keyword AND a type of primary source.

For example:

"civil war" AND letters

"American Revolution" AND diaries

Need to find writings by a particular person? Use the drop-down menu to search by Author.

Primary Source Databases

  • America's Historical Newspapers (log-in required)
    American newspapers published in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, offers fully searchable digital facsimiles of nearly 2,000 titles from all 50 states from 1690 - 2000.
  • Annals of American History (log-in required)
    Analyze American history through speeches, writings, and interviews from 1493 through today.
  • ARTstor (log-in required)
    Includes nearly one million images in the areas of art, architecture, the humanities, social sciences and other visual culture from around the globe.
  • Flickr Commons
    The key goal of The Commons is to share hidden treasures from the world's public photography archives. Participating institutions include UC Berkely, Miami University, San Diego Air & Space Museum, and many more. *Make sure to search in the search bar that says "Search the Commons" in the middle of the page.*
  • Issues & Controversies in American History (log-in required)
    This database provides the background, outcome, and contemporary points of view for every major debate and conflict in American history. All articles feature multiple primary sources, essential to understanding our nation’s past.
  • Library of Congress Digital Collections
    This database searches digitized collections from the Library of Congress. It includes manuscripts, photos, prints, maps, sound recordings and more.
  • National Archives' Digital Vault
    This database provides access to thousands of primary sources related to American History.
  • NYPL Digital Collections
    Explore 726,196 items digitized from The New York Public Library's collections.
  • World Digital Library (United States Collection)
    A collaboration of the Library of Congress and UNESCO, this provides digital collections from around the world. This link takes you to the United States' section.

Looking for Statistics?

Cover Art
The Historical Statistics of the United States
Call Number: HA202 .H57 2006 v. 1-5
This is a monumental work of collaborative scholarship providing a comprehensive compendium of statistics from over 1,000 sources recording every aspect of the history of the United States.


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