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Western Civilization: Primary Sources

Primary Sources

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  

Library Databases

Library databases to consider searching for Primary Sources, such as speeches, letters, government documents, press releases, etc.:

Academic Search Ultimate

America: History and Life with Full Text



World History (GALE IN CONTEXT)

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"

Image collection

Note: If you select an image to view, there is additional information including the permissions.

Primary Sources: Western Civilization I & II

Here are some external resources to explore for primary resources:

From the Library of Congress