Primary Sources:
Defining, Finding, Using

NHS Library
BOOK Resources


Alphabetical List - all Sites


Primary Sources
See also Gateway Sites

19th Century Documents Project

From Furman Univeristy, includes primary texts from nineteenth century American history, exploring the causes of sectional conflict and the elements of regional identity. There is a particular concentration on documents from South Carolina.

Five main subject categories: Beauty and Hygiene (1911-1956), Radio (1922-195), Television (1939-1957), Transportation (1938-1957), and World Wa
r II (1942-1945). War II.

American Centuries: A View From New England
Memorial Hall Museum, Deerfield MA focusses on three past "turns of the centuries", 1700, 1800 and 1900. In the exhibit, five themes are explored across these time periods: Native Americans, African Americans, Newcomers (settlers, and immigrants), the Land, and Family Life. There are five areas of study: Children, Eating, Military, Rituals and Work.

American Family Immigration History Center: Ellis Island
Besides being able to trace individual immigration records, visitors to this virtual Ellis Island can research the immigrant experience. In the timeline of immigrant history, different forces that brought about the immigration are discussed and demonstrated.

American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology
From 1936 to 1938, former slaves, most born in the last years of the slave regime or during the Civil War, were interviewed. Their first-hand accounts include experiences on plantations, in cities, and on small farms.

Canada's Digital Collections
Links to over 400 Web sites detailing Canada's history, geography, science, technology and culture.

Census Bureau
Statistics on People, Business, Geography, as well as state and Country Quick Facts.

Conversations with History

"Interview program, broadcast nationally...Conceived in 1982 by Harvey Kreisler as a way to capture and preserve through conversation and technology the intellectual ferment of our times.." Includes over 500 interviews, 1982 to present.

Documenting the American South
Southern history, literature and culture from the colonial period through the first decades of the 20th century. Collections include First-Person Narratives of the American South, Southern Literature, Slave Narratives, Southern Homefront, 1861-1865, Church in the Southern Black Community.

Digital Library - The New York Public Library
Special collections of photographs:
Performing Arts in America 1875-1923, A Hudson River Portfolio, Surveyors of the American West, Images of African Americans from the 19th Century, African American Women Writers of the 19th Century, Afro-Cuban Culture, Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives, Dance Heritage Coalition, Humanities Berg Collection of English and American Literature.

EAA - Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850 - 1920
9,000+ images showing the rise of consumerism in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, along with the increasing power of the advertising profession. There are eleven collections, searchable.

The Early American Digital Library
Images including portraits, places, events, early scenes, people, battles, military, maps, documents, ads.

Encyclopedia of Education Stats
Provides quick access to statistics and projections from the Dept. of Education.

Researchers have online access to the "illustrations, cartoons, news, literature, editorials, and ads of Harper’s Weekly...the only consistent, comprehensive, week-to-week chronological record of what happened world-wide in the last half of the nineteenth century."

Historical United States Census Data Browser
Census data, 1790-1960. Examine state and county copics for individual census years; examine state and county topics over time; generate maps of selected data.

Historical Text Archive
Massive collection of documents, photographs, articles and books on the topics of: Africa, African-American, Asia, Europe, Family, Internet, Hungary, Korean War, Latin American, Colonial Latin American, Mexico, Persian Gulf, Religion, Rock n Roll, USA, World War I, World War II, Old West, Maps.

The History Place
Extensive collection of a variety of materials on a variety of topics: Civil War, Child Labor 1908-1912, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange and Migrant Workers, Apollo 11, World War II and African American soldiers, Vietnam War, Presidents, Irish Potato Famine, Genocide (7 instances). Mixture of primary and secondary sources.

Historical Society of Pennsylvannia: Online Exhibits
Exhibits include: Living through the Civil War; Preserving the Legacy of Richardson
Dilworth; Constitution: On Display; Building on History; Richard Allen, Apostle of Freedom; John Brown, 150 Years from the Raid; Latino Philadelphia; Strangers in the Land of Strangers; African Immigrant Experience in Philadelphia; Liberty on the Anvil; Preserving History's Light; Philadelphia, Convention City; Building Gold Mountain - Chinatown; Japanese American Internment Experience; Italian-American Traditions; Balch Institute exhibits.

Internet History Sourcebooks Project
"Internet History Sourcebooks are collections of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented cleanly (without advertising or excessive layout) for educational use." Excellent for Ancient, Medieva, and Modern history research. Special sourcebooks on topics: African, east Asian, Indian, Islamic, Jewish, Women, Global, Science, GLTB

Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research
Special topics archives include Demographic Data, Health and Mental Health, Education, Aging, Criminal Justice, Substance Abuse & Mental Health, International, Instructional Data,
Race and Ethnicity, Terrorism.

Louisiana State Museum Photograph Collection
Dating from mid 1800 to early 1900, this digital collection of 1,500 photographs of Louisiana cities, culture, people, landscape, and waterways preserves the past.

Making of America
Digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction, with particular strength in the areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology.

Mountain Men and the Fur Trade

This digital library is "an on-line Research Center devoted to the history, traditions, tools, and mode of living, of the trappers, explorers, and traders known as the Mountain Men."

National Library of Medicine: Images from the History of Medicine
"The collection includes portraits, pictures of institutions, caricatures, genre scenes, and graphic art in a variety of media, illustrating the social and historical aspects of medicine."

National Social History Project 

With a New York focus, this resource features history from a social perspective. Be sure tocheck out "Who Built America" and the "Digital Projects" - the primary sources are mingled with the secondary sources.

"Resources for Indigenous Cultures around the World."

New Deal Network: The Great Depression, the 1930s, and the Roosevelt Administration
Indepth resources about the 1930s and the New Deal: documents, photos, interviews, essays and poetry, slave narratives, TVA and much more.

Regional Oral History Office
Oral History topics include:
Arts & Literature; Business; Community History; Food & Wine; Law and Jurisprudence; Natural Resources and the Environment; Politics & Government; Science, Medicine, Technology; Social Movements; Univ. of California History.

Speeches & Transcripts
Variety of speeches, many unique, such as graduation speeches, Bill Gates's speeches, and Mark Twain speeches. Also, transcripts of many radio and television shows such as Washington Week and All Things Considered.

Sunsite Digital Collections
Diverse collection ranging from history to literature from UC Berkeley.

Teaching Politics: Images of American Political History
A collection of over 500 public domain images, originally developed to support teaching of American political thought. Photoessays
Searchable Photo Essays from 1999 to present; Links to Europe and Asia photo essays.

UCR California Museum of Photography
Special Collections include Andy Warhol, Black Panthers, Ike Ude, Afghanistan 1933, Carawans Life of Music, Korea 1900-1905, California Agricultural Community.

The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War
Valley of the Shadow Project takes two communities, one Northern and one Southern, through the American Civil War. It is an archive of newspapers, letters, diaries, photographs, maps, church records, population census, agricultural census, and military records.

WestWeb: Western History Resource
Collections of primary and secondary sources with links to additional sources. Vast information of the American West.

Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000
Extensive collection, searchable.

Organized and Maintainted by
Ann B. Perham
School Librarian 
Needham High School, Needham, Massachusetts
Updated: January 2012