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Databases and Pathfinders  

Subscription databases and search portals to support your research!
Last Updated: Apr 7, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Primary Sources Print Page

Annals of American History


Annals of American History illuminate U.S. history from 1493 to modern times in over 2,000 primary documents—the original words of history-makers.




New York Times articles from 1850s - 2000s.


CQ Historic Documents (1972-present)


Famous Trials



IWitness is an online application that gives educators and students access to search, watch, and learn from more than 1,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses.


Google Books


American Memory


Making of America

(Antebellum period through Reconstruction)


National Archives and Records Administration


Vincent Voice Library


Digital Harlem




How to be a Retronaut



(use Ms. Roberts' email and the password: artstor)



A mix of free and premium documents


Experieincing WW! (Veterans History Project)


Veterans History Project


Chronicling America

Welcome to Chronicling America, enhancing access to America's historic newspapers. This site allows you to search and view newspaper pages from 1860-1922 and 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).


FBI: The Vault


Nelson Mandela Digital Archive

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory delivers the core-work of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation established in 1999 to support its Founder’s ongoing engagement in worthy causes on his retirement as President of South Africa. The Foundation is registered as a trust, with its board of trustees comprising prominent South Africans selected by the Founder.


Reading Like a Historian

Reading Like a Historian (historial inquiry) from the Standford History Education Group (Lesson Plans based on primary documents)


About Primary Sources

From the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of the American Library Association:

What are Primary Sources?

Primary sources are original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of memoirs and oral histories. Primary sources may include:

  • letters
  • manuscripts
  • diaries
  • journals
  • contemporaneous newspaper artiles
  • speeches
  • interviews
  • pamphlets
  • government documents
  • photographs
  • audio recordings
  • moving pictures or video recordings
  • research data
  • objects or artifacts such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons
  • and other other documents of the time.
These sources serve as the raw material to interpret the past, and when they are used along with previous interpretations by historians, they provide the resources necessary for historical research.

More about primary sources:

Remember, when searching for primary sources the language of our time may not serve you well.  For instance, documents written during World War I would have referred to the conflict as "The Great War."  The term "African American" is relatively modern in usage.

Primary sources are often biased.  As you analyze them, try to understand the lens through with you view them.


    Google Custom Search


    Salem History



    Some Major Portals

    Some sources for Primary Sources and Learning Strategies:

    American Memory Collection

    American Memory Timeline for Teachers

    Artifact and Analysis (Smithsonian)

    Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln

    JFK Library

    King Center Archive (MLK & the Civil Rights Movement)

    Letters of Note


    National Humanities Center: Toolbox Library

    United Nations History Project

    U. Washington History United States

    U. Washington Primary Sources by Type

    Temple U. Primary Sources Europe

    Temple U. Primary Sources United States

    100 Terrific Sites to Find Primary Source Documents

    Calisphere: World of Primary Sources and More (U. California)

    Discovering American Women's History Online The Place for Historical Documents Online

    Library and Archival Indexes on the Web

    Library of Congress (Flickr collections)

    Museum of Online Museums

    National Archives and Records Administration's Digital Classroom

    National Archives YouTube Channel

    National Security Archive

    Picturing America (art galleries and resources)

    Prologue: Pieces of History Top 10 National Archives Web Sites

    Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States

    National Security Archive

    Our Documents (primary sources and teaching resources)

    Teaching with Documents

    VADS: Free Art and Design Images for Education (Read Terms of Use)

    Voice of the Shuttle: History


    Links from LibGuides @Madison College


    AmericanMemory  Library of Congress

    Avalon Project - Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy A collection of documents in history and law from ancient civilizations to the present.

    Cambridge U. Virtual Classroomsample exercises and lectures, and information

    Chronicling America - The Library of Congress  American newspapers 1860-1922.

    Civil War in America from The Illustrated London News   Digital archive of the Illustrated London News during the Civil War years.

    Digital Collections & Programs (Library of Congress)

    Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture digitized primary materials significant to the decorative arts and material culture of early America including electronic texts and facsimiles, image databases, and web resources.

    Documenting the American South Documenting the American South is a collection of sources on Southern history, literature and culture from the colonial period through the first decades of the 20th century. As of March 1, 2004, DAS includes 1,266 books and manuscripts.

    Early American Paintings Worcester Art Museum

    Founders' Constitution An online anthology of documents from the 17th century through the 1830's related to constitutional history. From the University of Chicago and the Liberty Fund.

    Google Book Search Now includes magazines. If you do an advanced search, you can limit your search by date and type of content. Not printable, but you can read the issues on screen.

    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art   Chronological, geographical, and thematic exploration of the history of world art

    Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930  Harvard Open Collections Program: Digital collection of selected historical materials documenting voluntary immigration to the US

    Internet History Sourcebooks Project Full text historical documents and links for ancient, medieval, and modern history. Paul Halsall/Fordham University.

    LIFE photo archive Millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, hosted by Google, stretching from the 1750s to today.

    Making of America Digital library of primary resources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction including sociology as well as education, psychology, American history, religion, science and technology.

    Manuscript Collections Relating to Slavery from New York Historical Society.

    Mike Wallace Interview In the early 1960’s, broadcast journalist Mike Wallace donated 65 recorded interviews made in 1957-58 from his show The Mike Wallace Interview to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. The bulk of these were 16mm kinescope film recordings.

    National Archives and Records Administration  

    NYPL Digital Gallery New York Public Library Digitized Collections

    Office of the Historian U.S.Department of State. Access to official historical documentary records of U.S. foreign policy.

    Picturing America Home Page   National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) "brings masterpieces of American art into classrooms and libraries nationwide."

    Picturing the thirties The Depression, The New Deal, The Country, Industry, Labor, The City, Leisure, and American People." Features artwork, photos, newsreels, and other material about 1930s history.

    Prelinger Archives "Ephemeral" (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films made from 1927 through the present.

    Smithsonian Institution Smithsonian Instrutions website with exhibitions, images, and information

    Smithsonian Institution Collections Search

    The March On Milwaukee Civil Rights History Project Primary source digital collection from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries and the Wisconsin Historical Society - 1960s civil rights history

    The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War

    Women Working - , 1800–1930    Harvard Open Collections Program; approximately 500,000 digitized pages and images focused on the role of women in the U.S. economy.


    Searching for Video


    Historic American Newspapers


    Gilder Lehrman History by Era


    World Book


    World Book Advanced includes Primary Source links.


    All Periodicals (free periodicals dating back to the 19th Century)


    Milestone Documents


    Greece Central School District US History & Gov't DBQs


    Contemporary History






    Documenting the American South


    Life Photo Archive


    Repositories of Primary Sources


    Free Library of Philadelphia Digital Collections


    Internet History Sourcebooks


    UV: Historical Census Browser


    Historical Newspapers Online (U.Penn)




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