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Primary Source Materials

Primary Sources
Sources for primary documents

This portion of the web site is intended for both students and faculty as a place where they can download primary documents. The links are sorted, as best possible, by subject. While a search of Yahoo! or Google will no doubt turn up additional sites, those listed below will hopefully prove useful. Click on one of the subjects below, and you will be taken to primary document sites related to it:

WHAT IS A PRIMARY DOCUMENT?
To answer this question, as well as how to distinguish primary from secondary sources, see what the University of California - Santa Cruz has to say.

GENERAL
The Avalon Project. Excellent source for primary documents in the fields of law, history, government, and diplomacy. Items are divided by century and then listed in alphabetical order.

Chief George Manuel Memorial Library and the Fourth World Documentation Archive. This site has about a thousand documents related to indigenous peoples worldwide.

History Guide. While it focuses primarily on the United States and Europe, one can find primary-source material for numerous subjects and links to history-related web sites.

International Institute of Social History. This site has links to archives, digital databases, and virtual exhibits, among other resources. An excellent place for those working on economic and social history.

Internet Modern History Sourcebook. Provides links to sites from all over the world. Divided nicely chronologically and by subject. I have provided some of the links below, but students and teachers might want to look at this main page for additional links.

Library: Primary Documents Online. This neat site provides links to other sites that provide secondary and primary materials from all over the world. The site is divided into links for U.S. History, European History, Latin and South American History, African and Middle Eastern History, Asian and Pacific Rim History, World History, African-American History, Native American History, and Women's History.

National Security Archive. Housed at George Washington University, the National Security Archive uses the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the release of government documents, some of them quite recent. While these materials are U.S. government documents, they related to subjects from all over the world. Of particular interest are the electronic briefing books, which are divided by area of the world and topic.

Primary Source Digital Archives and Collections: Chico High School Library. Provides links to numerous sites providing primary sources, ranging from documents, to cartoons, music, and posters.

Primary Sources: History. Very similar site to "Library: Primary Documents Online." However, the subject categories are more extensive, and there are specific categories for Canadian History, Australian History, and Central American History. Additionally, the links for U.S. History are divided by century.

Primary Sources on the Web. Provides links to sites that provide primary documents in both American and world history.

AFRICAN HISTORY
Africa South of the Sahara. Divided by country and topic, this interesting site includes links to primary documents and other sources on numerous African nations. There is also a keyword search engine; make sure, however, to have a good idea what you want to look up to avoid numerous hits.

Internet African History Sourcebook. Primary and secondary documents dating from ancient times to the present.

ANCIENT HISTORY
Digital Roman Forum. While this UCLA-based site focuses primarily on the reconstructions of the Roman Forum, there are links to primary and secondary source documents related to the site.

Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. Primary and secondary documents on ancient history. Most are Greek and Roman materials, but there are also items from Israel, Asia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt.

ASIAN HISTORY
Internet East Asian History Sourcebook. Primary and secondary documents dating from ancient times to the present.

Joseph Barry Keenan Digital Collection. Contains manuscripts and photographs related to the Japanese War Crimes Trial.

EUROPEAN HISTORY
An Gorta Mor. While limited to the minute books of the Killarney Workhouse in Kerry, Ireland, this site gives insight into the famine that hit Ireland in the 1840s.

Cold War International History Project. Here one can find archival documents from the Cold War period. Most are translated documents from the former nations of the Soviet bloc.

Discoverers Web. Provides primary documents from numerous European (and a few East Asian) explorers.

EuroDocs. An interesting site that provides primary documents, oftentimes in their original languages. One can search via time period or nation. This site is particularly impressive in that it includes oftentimes-ignored countries, such as Andorra or Liechtenstein.

Histpop - The Online Historical Population Reports Website. Provides population information for modern Britain prior to World War II.

Images of Russia and Caucasus Region, 1929-1933. This is a series of photographs taken by William O. Field during trips he took to the Soviet Union. Also included are images from his diaries and his notes he took.

Internet Medieval History Sourcebook. Primary and secondary documents from the medieval period.

Internet Modern History Sourcebook: The Reformation. Primary and secondary documents from the period.

Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. This site, on the French Revolution, has a number of essays by preeminent scholars in the field as well as a huge collection of primary materials, including songs, texts, maps, and pictures.

Making the History of 1989. Focusing on the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, this site includes hundreds of documents, videos, and other primary sources

Medieval English Towns. Divided into five sections -- Introduction, Town Histories, Office-Holding, Links, and Florilegium -- those individuals looking for primary materials will want to go to Florilegium, where they will find a huge collection of sources in translation. There are also in the Florilegium links to other sides divided by topic, into some that also have primary documents.

Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London, 1674 to 1834. Interesting site that provides the proceedings of over 100,000 criminal trials at the Old Bailey Court.

PROMINSTAT. To quote its web site, PROMINSTAT "compiles meta-information on statistical datasets on migration, integration and discrimination in 27 European countries (EU25 plus Norway and Switzerland)."

A Roma Journey. This site offers a wide variety of source material -- including documents, narratives, and music -- useful to anyone studying Romani culture.

The Victorian Web. A terrific site for anyone interested in the era. The site is divided into sections, including science, gender, political history, social history, the arts and architecture, religion, and economics, and one can find a wealth of primary materials in each.

LATIN AMERICAN HISTORY
Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Colonial Latin America. Primary and secondary documents from this period.

Internet Modern History Sourcebook: 19th Century Latin America. Same as above, with focus on the 1800s.

Internet Modern History Sourcebook: 20th Century Latin America. Same as above, with focus on the 1900s.

MIDDLE EASTERN HISTORY
Internet Islamic History Sourcebook. Primary and secondary materials on this subject.

U.S. HISTORY
--General
AMDOCS. Fantastic web site, with an enormous number of primary documents available, dating from the age of exploration to the present.

American Memory. This wonderful site, maintained by the Library of Congress, offers a voluminous number of photographs, maps, music, and sound recordings. Collections are divided by topic (including advertising, African-American history, cities and towns, literature, Native American history, war, and women's history); one can search each collection by format,topic, time period, or place.

The American Presidency Project. A comprehensive site on the U.S. presidency, including links to the public papers of the presidents, presidential election maps, and a document archive.

Chronology of U.S. Historical Documents. Maintained by the University of Oklahoma College of Law, one can find inaugural addresses and other speeches, major treaties, and other important documents from the pre-colonial era to the present.

E. Pluribus Unum Project. This wide-ranging site includes primary texts on the question of American identity, such as who was among the "many" versus the "one" and how Americans defined "unity."

Expeditions and Discoveries. This site includes field notes, manuscripts, books, photographs, and diarieis related to nine expeditions conducted by Harvard University between 1626 and 1953. These includes junkets to Central and South America, East Asia, and the Pacific.

Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930. Based out of Harvard University, this site provides browsers with access to on-line books and manuscript collections relating to U.S. immigration history.

Library of Congress. The largest repository of books in the United States, it also has numerous papers available on line.

Making of America. Huge collection maintained by Cornell University of documents covering the antebellum through Reconstruction eras.

Massachusetts Historical Society: Massachusetts Maps. A nice collection of maps of Massachusetts as well as counties and towns within that colony and state, dated from 1637 to 1809.

Presidential Approval Tracker. Maintained by USA Today newspaper, the tracker uses the Gallup poll to show the popularity of presidents since the end of World War II.

Presidential Libraries. Part of the National Archive and Records Administration, most of the presidential libraries offer primary documents on-line. For instance, the Roosevelt Library has documents from the President's Secretary's File available, while the Eisenhower Library offers selected materials ranging from civil rights to McCarthyism.

U.S. Historical Documents Archive.  Not nearly as extensive as AMDOCS, but has a good number of documents from the pre-1600s to the present.

Western New York Legacy. This extensive collection brings together primary and secondary materials related to New York state's six western countries. The numerous and varied items include family photographs, medical artifacts, old city directories, the archives of Hilbert College, and materials relating to the Love Canal hazardous waste site.

--African-American History
The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. A massive collection of over 14,000 stories and hundreds of hours of video compiled from more than 300 important African-Americans. The site is searchable by last name or the type of work in which the person engaged. 

The Malcolm X Project at Columbia University. Fascinating site that includes video clips from Malcolm X's speches, oral histories, and government documents, among other sources.

Mississippi Freedom Summer Project 1964 Digital Collection. Established by Miami University of Ohio, this collection contains documents, videos, and photographs relating to the events of the summer of 1964. Bear in mind that the documents are not in any sort of order, which can make searching for specific items difficult.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Though it covers peoples of African descent worldwide, this site focuses primarily upon those living in the Western Hemisphere

Texas Slavery Project. This useful web site is divided into three parts. The first offers an interactive map through which one can view general demographic information, including changes in the numbers of slaveowners and slaves between 1837-45. One may even look at individual counties. The second provides more detailed population statistics. The final is a decent selection of primary materials, including the Diplomatic Correspondence of Texas and the James F. Perry papers.

Voices of Civil Rights. This wonderful web site provides personal stories of those involved in the rights movements of 1945 to 1975. What makes this site so nice is that the stories are not just of those involved in the civil rights movement; one will find here as well personal accounts of participants in the American Indian Movement, and the Chicano, gay rights, environmental, and women's rights movements.

--Latino History

Bracero History Archive. This web site, developed in collaboration between the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Brown University, George Mason University, and the University of Texas at El Paso offers a large selection of primary documents on Mexicans who served as seasonal workers in the United States between 1942 and 1964.

--Native American History
American Indians: Index of Native American Resources. Wonderful site with links to everything from museums to electronic texts to archival resources.

Duke Collection of American Indian Oral History. Focused on Oklahoma, this wonderful resource includes hundreds of oral histories from tribes which live in that state, including the Kiowa, Kickapoo, and the Seneca.

--Presidential Studies
Presidents of the United States Resource Guides. The site, maintained by the Library of Congress, provides access to digitized collections of some of the presidents of the United States, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Abraham Lincoln.

Ulysses S. Grant Digital Collection. Maintained by Mississippi State's Mitchell Memorial Library, this site provides access to a sizeable part of the Grant papers.

--1960s
The Whole World Was Watching. A fascinating collection of oral histories of Rhode Islanders who describe the events of 1968. The interviews were conducted by members of a class at South Kingstown High School. While the site needs some work, it can be very useful to researchers.

--Social History
The Adoption History Project. Maintained at the University of Oregon, this site covers the socio-political and psychological aspects of the history of adoption in the United States. It is divided into six sections, such as a timeline and people and organizations, but the part of most interest to those looking for primary sources is that entitled, "Document Archives."

--U.S. Foreign Policy
Foreign Relations of the United States, 1861-1960. Put together by the U.S. State Department and made web-accessible by the University of Wisconsin, this is by far the best collection on U.S. foreign policy. Volumes are divided by year and country (such as Russia or the Soviet Union), region (such as Southeast Asia), or institution (such as the United Nations). Tables of content and indexes make each volume easy to use.

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-. A continuation of the series, but made available on line by the Office of the Historian at the U.S. State Department..

Frontline Diplomacy. A terrific site, run by the Library of Congress, of oral histories of Foreign Service Officers. While some of the transcribed interviews come from the interwar period, most come from postwar FSOs.

--U.S. Southern History
Documenting the American South. Maintained by the University of North Carolina, this web site offers diaries, slave narratives, Southern literary works, and propaganda posters, among other items. 

--U.S. Women's History
American Women Through Time. Run out of Middle Tennessee State University, this site divides women history into four periods: Beginnings, 19th Century, 20th Century, and Other timelines. Each period is divided into chapters covering anywhere from a decade to a century. Each chapter provides links to a variety of primary and secondary resources. Easy to navigate and very useful.

American Women's History: A Research Guide. Excellent site on the history of women in the United States. Includes links to numerous primary materials, including to state archives containing papers relevant to women's history.

Women Working, 1870-1930. This site includes thousands of documents, ranging from personal papers to circulars, to images, on the working woman and the impact of industrialization upon women's employment experiences.

WAR/MILITARY
--General
Naval History.Net. One can find here a large amount of both primary and secondary information on naval history, including diaries, scrapbooks, maps, and and ship types, with a focus on the two World Wars and the Falklands War. Most of the material is on the Royal Navy, but there are also items relating to the U.S., Japanese, French, Italian, and German navies.

Papers of the War Department, 1784-1800. Maintained by Geroge Mason University, this site has documents on the early years of the War Department. It brings together papers once thought destroyed in a fire. 

United States Military Academy Digital Library. Focusing on the history of the Military Academy, this site includes the Annual Report of the Superintendent, maps of the academy, papers about life at West Point, and photographs.

--American Revolution
"The Decisive Day is Come": The Battle for Bunker Hill. The best site on the topic, one can find maps, primary accounts of the battle from various sources, and links to other sites on this battle.

--U.S. Civil War
Antietam on the Web. The best web site on this battle. While much of the site can be considered a secondary source, there are links in the "Sources" section of the site that will take you to primary sources related to the battle.

Civil War Primary Documents. One can find here an enormous number of links to diaries, memoirs, speeches, resolutions, and photographs on the war.

Civil War Women. Provides letters, diaries, and other documents relating to the role of women in the bloodiest war in American history.

Internet Modern History Sourcebook: U.S. Civil War. Primary and secondary documents relating to the war.

War of the Rebellion. A massive, multi-volume compilation of all of the records of the Confederate and Union armies.

--Vietnam War
The Vietnam Project. Maintained by Texas Tech, this is the best site for Vietnam War-era documents on the net.

The Wars for Vietnam. An good source for materials on the Vietnam War, including a substantial number of documents. Maintained by Vassar University.

--World War I
Documents of World War I. Excellent site providing major speeches, telegrams, and memoranda from each of the belligerents, presented chronologically.

The World War I Document Archive.  Maintained by Brigham Young University, this wonderful site, one can find documents listed by year, diaries and personal reminiscences, and articles on the war.

--World War II
Documents of World War II. Sister site to "Documents of World War I."

Joseph Barry Keenan Digital Collection. Contains manuscripts and photographs related to the Japanese War Crimes Trial.

Nizkor Project. Put together by Kevin McVay, this site uses both primary and secondary sources to combat those who deny the Holocaust took place.

WWII Resources. Provides numerous documents from the various participants in the war. Included are translated German documents, Franklin Roosevelt's speeches, the Pearl Harbor hearing transcripts, and documents related to the surrender of the Axis powers.

 

 

 

Last Published: February 14, 2014 2:27 PM
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