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What are primary sources? Primary sources provide firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic or question under investigation.
They are usually 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.
Source: Primary Sources at Yale
Primary Sources: American History
Here are some external resources to explore:
Collection of over 7,000 advertisements from the Ad*Access Project, funded by the Duke Endowment "Library 2000" Fund.
The American Civil War: A collection of free online primary sources
Newspapers; maps and photographs; diaries and letters; dispatches and battles; slavery and abolitionism; and confederacy
The American Presidency Project
Primary sources on the American presidency.
The Civil War Home Page
Resource for American Civil War images, resources, etc.
Cornell University Library-Making of America
A digital library of American primary sources.
The Claremont Institute initiative connecting American founding documents and principles to the public.
Collection of the First African-American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States.
Historical Government Publications from World War II
SMU-Central University Libraries collection on historical governmental publications from World War II.
Historical issues of Life Magazine.
Collection of 100 "milestone documents of American history", an initiative by the National History Day, The National Archives and Records Administration, and USA Freedom Corps.
Primary Sources at Yale
Collections of primary sources at Yale University.
Historical propaganda posters from 1919-1996.
U.S. Founding Documents
Access to United States founding documents as well as U.S. Congressional records and the Constitution Annotated
The Valley of the Shadow
A digital archive of letters, diaries, newspapers, speeches and more from people in Augusta County, Virginia and Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
Primary Sources: World History
Here are some external sources for consideration:
From the Library of Congress
Image Searching in the Library
In the America: History and Life with Full Text and the Academic Search Ultimate databases, you can tailor your search specifically for images.
- Select Databases on the library homepage
- Navigate to either America: History and Life with Full Text or Academic Search Ultimate in the list
- Inside the database in the blue bar at the top, click "More", which should present a dropdown menu.
- From that menu select "Images".
- In the new search screen that comes up, search for images by using keywords.
- Be sure to search for phrases in quotation marks, such as: "great depression"
Note: If you select an image to view, there is additional information including the permissions.