Primary sources are documents that were either created at the time historical events occurred, or created by the history-makers themselves later in the form of memoirs and oral histories. They provide a first-person perspective on events and people from the past. Primary sources such as diaries, letters, and government memos offer a window into the thoughts and actions of historical figures.
This digital collection contains a Virtual Archive of primary documents, organized thematically into collections such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and US-Soviet Relations. It includes memoranda, letters, and government reports.
Epistolae is a collection of medieval Latin letters to and from women. The letters collected here date from the 4th to the 13th centuries, and they are presented in their original Latin as well as in English translation. The letters are organized by the name and biography of the women writers or recipients. Biographical sketches of the women, descriptions of the subject matter of the letters, and the historical context of the correspondence are included where available.
The 5 bibliographic databases of AfricaBib:
Africana Periodical Literature (including "Quarterly Index of African Periodical Literature") (169,100 records)
African Women (37,000 records)
Women Travelers, Explorers and Missionaries to Africa (1,800 records)
Islam in Contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa (4,900 records)
Kenya Coast (1,800 records)
Consists of over five million pages of content from over 14,880 monographs dating from 1894 through 1922.
This collection provides a broad view of the changing landscape of religion in America at the end of a century of dramatic cultural and political change. It offers material on the significant shifts in the religious identification of Americans and the growing interest and experimentation with non-Western religions. It presents a comprehensive picture of American life at the time with the rise of missionary activity and evangelical Christianity and the emergence of the historical critical method – the foundation for all twentieth century biblical scholarship.
Like the British Archives, the British Library has online collections you can peruse, including images and primary sources. Their collections are wider than just Great Britain, so you may want to look here even if your topic is not related to Great Britain.
DPLA connects people to the riches held within America’s libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions. All of the materials found through DPLA—photographs, books, maps, news footage, oral histories, personal letters, museum objects, artwork, government documents, and so much more—are free and immediately available in digital format.
Maintained by the European University Institute, this site serves as a portal to scholarly websites that host primary source documents on the history of Europe. Links are organized by country, language, period, and subject.
Contains short texts of broad interdisciplinary interest in a variety of genres, and many of the texts have not previously been translated into English. It offers a flexible online display for the parallel viewing of medieval texts in their original language, in new English translations, and in their digitized manuscript form.
HathiTrust is a partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future. They have a huge collection of digitized items that are out of copyright and free to use.
A collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented cleanly (without advertising or excessive layout) for educational use. Primary sources are available here primarily for use in high-school and university/college courses. From the outset the site took a very broad view of the sources that should be available to students and as well as documents long associated with a "western civilization" approach to history also provides much information on Byzantine, Islamic, Jewish, Indian, East Asian, and African history. You will also find many documents especially relevant to women's history and LGBT studies.
Focuses on issues at the intersection of gender and class, from the late eighteenth century to the era of suffrage in the early twentieth century, through a transnational perspective.
This collection deepens the comprehensive coverage of European movements by adding sources from the United States and other regions. The focus of this collection is on major nineteenth-century trends, topics, and events as they relate to gender, including social reform, high and low culture, transnational networks, immigration, daily life, religion, and more.
Contains over 23,000 British pamphlets published between 1500-1900.
JSTOR, the online journal backfile archive, has added an archive of more than 23,000 19th-century British pamphlets. Although pamphlets were an important means of public debate, covering the key political, social, technological, and environmental issues of their day, they were often treated poorly by libraries, collected in unwieldy bindings or otherwise kept inaccessible to their future readers.
These pamphlets were selected for their relevance to the political, social, and economic issues of 19th century Britain from the collections of seven British institutions by Research Libraries UK, Durham University, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Newcastle University, University College London (UCL), and the Universities of Bristol, Liverpool, and Manchester. The subject collections contributed by the institutions include:
Bristol selected pamphlets, 1800-1899
Including the National Liberal Club collection, with pamphlets from the libraries of Charles Bradlaugh, John Noble, the Liberation Society, the Land Nationalisation Society, the Cobden Club, and others. Bristol's collection is especially strong on 19th century commerce, economics, finance, politics, religion and sociology. In addition to publications by Liberal Party members, it includes many pamphlets from other political parties.
Cowen tracts, 1603-1898
Personal collection of Joseph Cowen (1829-1900). A social reformer and Member of Parliament for Newcastle (1873-86), Cowen's pamphlet collection dates, mostly, from his active years from the late 1840s to early 1880s. The collection reflects his interests in social, educational and economic issues and includes much local material.
Earl Grey Pamphlets collection, 1800-1900
This collection, still owned by the family, was largely accumulated by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Earls Grey. Charles was Foreign Secretary (1806-07) and Prime Minister (1830-34). Henry George was Under Secretary for Home Affairs (1830) and the Colonies (1830-34), Secretary at War (1835-39), and Secretary of State for the Colonies (1846-52). Albert Henry George was Administrator of Rhodesia (1896-97) and Governor-General of Canada (1904-11). The Greys were particularly interested in parliamentary reform, colonial affairs and Catholic emancipation.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office collection (1545-1900)
On deposit from the FCO, this collection comprises the earlier collections of the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office. Both include rare publications from overseas. The Foreign Office Collection consists largely of pamphlets sent back to London by British ambassadors to help with policy formation. It is particularly rich in material related to South America, the Near East, and to the various great European political "questions" of the 19th century. The Colonial Office Collection is chiefly comprised of pamphlets sent back from Britain's colonies, including some unique early material from Australasia.
Hume tracts, 1769-1890
Personal collection of Joseph Hume (1777-1855), Radical Member of Parliament. Hume's collection covers the major political, economic and social developments and reforms taking place in Britain in the early part of the 19th century along with the causes he particularly championed, such as universal suffrage, Catholic emancipation, a reduction in the power of the Anglican church and an end to imprisonment for debt.
Knowsley pamphlet collection, 1792-1868
The Knowsley collection reflects the political careers of the Earls of Derby. Edward George, the 14th Earl, was successively Irish Secretary (1830-33), Colonial Secretary (1833-34, 1841-44), and three times Prime Minister (1852, 1858-59, and 1866-68). His son, Edward Henry, 15th Earl, was Colonial Secretary and later Indian secretary in his father's administration of 1858-59.
LSE selected pamphlets, 1800-1899
The London School of Economics and Political Science has a substantial number of 19th century pamphlets. Among its pamphlets are comprehensive collections of political party materials, including election manifestos and political cartoons. There are also collections from pressure groups such as the Fabian Society, Imperial Federation Defence Committee, Poor Law Reform Association, Workhouse Visiting Society, Liberal and Property Defence League, and from cooperative movements such as the Cooperative Women's Guild.
Manchester selected pamphlets, 1799-1900
A broad sampling of pamphlets
Wilson Anti-Slavery collection, 1761-1900
A collection of 19th-century anti-slavery pamphlets received in 1923 from the executors of Henry Joseph Wilson (1833-1914), the distinguished Liberal Member of Parliament for Sheffield. The collection is of particular importance for the study of the activities of the provincial philanthropic societies, such as the Birmingham and Midland Freedmen's Aid Association, the Birmingham and West Bromwich Ladies' Negro's Friend Society, the Glasgow Emancipation Society, the Manchester Union and Emancipation Society, and the Sheffield Ladies Female Anti Slavery Society. Of interest is the prominent role of women in the movement, who formed themselves into societies which lobbied MPs and printed pamphlets on the conditions of slaves. Here we have details of what was sold at their bazaars to raise funds and lists of names of subscribers, the minutiae which bring alive the history of the movement.
These pamphlet collections are fully integrated into the JSTOR platform. They are fulltext-searchable, they may be viewed in PDF format, and each pamphlet is provided with a persistent URL for citation.
Complete cover-to-cover archive of LIFE Magazine from 1936 - 2000.
Published by Time Inc., the magazine has featured story-telling through documentary photographs and informative captions.Each issue visually and powerfully depicted national and international events and topical stories, providing intimate views of real people and their real life situations.
Articles and cover pages are fully indexed and advertisements are individually identified, ensuring researchers and readers can quickly and accurately locate the information they seek. Life Magazine Archive is valuable to researchers of 20th-Century current events, politics and culture, as well as those interested in the history of business, advertising, and popular culture.
Full-text/PDF access to the New York Times, from 1851 to four years ago via ProQuest.
This historical newspaper provides genealogists, researchers and scholars with online, easily-searchable first-hand accounts and unparalleled coverage of the politics, society and events of the time. The Historical New York Times with Index (1851-1993) provides search capability using subject terms and topics for focused and targeted results in combination with searchable full text, full page, and article-level images from the Historical New York Times.
Coverage: 1851-4 years ago
Digital full-text access to every issue of The Times (London) newspaper from 1785 through 2014, except for Sunday editions (which are available through the Sunday Times Digital Archive).
First published in 1785, The Times of London is widely considered to be the world's 'newspaper of record'. The Times Digital Archive allows users to search over 200 years of this invaluable historical source.
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Primary vs. Secondary Sources
It is not always easy to discern the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary resources. The definition of "primary sources" varies across different fields of study. Ask your professor if you have any questions about what will be accepted as a primary source for a particular assignment.