HIST 101: American Immigration History

Primary Sources

Primary sources can be found in a variety of library tools:

For specific search strategies, see the Library's Guide to Finding Historical Primary Sources

Learn more about your topic in advance:

  • names of relevant individuals and organizations
  • dates of events
  • places
  • what terminology was used at the time by participants and observers? (ex:  negro or colored instead of african american)

Use the bibliographies of secondary sources and reference sources to find citations to specific primary sources; search OskiCat to locate them on campus, or ask for assistance at the Library.

Searching OskiCat for Primary Sources

Search OskiCat for primary sources using keywords and adding terms that denote primary sources, such as:

-correspondence
-sources
-diaries
-personal narratives
-interviews
-speeches
-documents
-archives
-early works to 1800
-newspapers

Primary Source Databases

Go to the Library web site for a more extensive list of primary source databases for American History and for the complete list of primary source databases, follow this path:  Library home > Electronic Resources > Electronic resources types A-Z > Archival Collections and Primary Source Databases.

Some examples

  • American Social History Online
    Provides access to 175 digitized library collections related to U.S. social history.
  • American Memory: Historical Collections for the National Digital Library
    Consists of more than 7 million digital items from more than 100 historical Library of Congress collections. The primary source and archival materials relating in the project cover topics from art and architecture to performing arts to technology and applied sciences.
  • Calisphere
    Gateway to digitized images from the libraries and museums of 10 University of California campuses and more than 100 cultural heritage organizations in California. Includes more than 150,000 photographs, diaries, documents, oral histories and other resources. Serves as a single point of access for more than 300 UC-created websites and collections.
  • Chinese in California, 1850-1925
    Illustrates nineteenth and early twentieth century Chinese immigration to California through about 8,000 images and pages of primary source materials.
  • Chronicling America
    This site allows users to search and view newspaper pages from 1880-1910 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. To date, over 200,000 pages of California newspapers have been digitized.
  • Historical Newspapers (ProQuest)
    Indexes articles from Chicago Defender (1905-1975), Chicago Tribune (1849-1986), Los Angeles Times (1881-1986), New York Times (1851-2004), San Francisco Chronicle (1865-1922), Wall Street Journal (1889-1990), and Washington Post (1877-1991).
  • Making of America (Cornell University)
    Access to 267 monograph volumes and over 100,000 journal articles from 22 journals with 19th century imprints. The collection is particularly strong in the areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. Making of America is a collaboration between the libraries of Cornell University and the University of Michigan to document American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction by drawing upon the primary materials at these two institutions. The Michigan site is available at: http://www.hti.umich.edu/m/moagrp/
  • Making of America (University of Michigan)
    Access to 9,500 books and almost 2500 digitized issues of 12 journals published in the 19th century. The collection is particularly strong in the areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. Making of America is a collaboration between the libraries of Cornell University and the University of Michigan to document American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction by drawing upon unique primary materials held at each institution. The Cornell site is available at: http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/moa/index.html
  • Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (WASM)
    Collects and analyzes more than 1,000 documents and almost 400 images on the history of women and social movements in the United States between 1600 and 2000. Also includes links to other websites and a dictionary of social movements and organizations.

Searching Article Databases for Primary Sources

Library home > Electronic Resources > Electronic Resources Types A-Z > Archival Collections and Primary Sources > Historical Newspapers (ProQuest)

advanced (tab)

argentin*     (citation and document text)
jorge rafael videla         (citation and document text)

from:   1976 to 1983

Library home > Electronic Resources > Electronic Resources Types A-Z > Archival Collections and Primary Sources > Declassified Documents Reference System

argentina (keywords)

issue date:  1976 to 1990

Primary Sources on the Internet

Just a few examples of what's out there - but be careful to evaluate what you find!

American Memory: Historical Collections for the National Digital Library

Consists of more than 7 million digital items from more than 100 historical Library of Congress collections. The primary source and archival materials relating in the project cover topics from art and architecture to performing arts to technology and applied sciences.

American Slave: A Composite Autobiography
A digitized collection of over 2,300 narratives of former slaves. Interviews were conducted by writers and journalists as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s.


American Social History Online
Provides access to 175 digitized library collections related to U.S. social history.

Chronicling America
This site allows users to search and view newspaper pages from 1880-1910 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. To date, over 200,000 pages of California newspapers have been digitized.
Chronology of U.S. Historical Documents
Includes the text of more than 100 historic US documents from the Magna Carta and the Mayflower Compact to the Truman Doctrine and the "I Have a Dream" speech.

James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center
Gateway to collections documenting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered history and culture, emphasizing the San Francisco Bay Area. Part of the San Francisco Public Library

Selected Historical Decennial Census Population and Census Counts. Contains historical census data from 1790-1860, 1990 & 2000; historical census statistics on the foreign-born. Print copies of the US Census (1790-2000) located in North Reading Room, 2nd floor, Doe Library, gref section, HA201 call number

Immigration... the Changing Face of America. Library of Congress collection. An introduction to the study of immigration to the United States


Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930. Web-based collection of selected historical materials documenting immigration to the US from the Harvard libraries

Making of America (Cornell University)
Access to 267 monograph volumes and over 100,000 journal articles from 22 journals with 19th century imprints. The collection is particularly strong in the areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. Making of America is a collaboration between the libraries of Cornell University and the University of Michigan to document American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction by drawing upon the primary materials at these two institutions. The Michigan site is available at: http://www.hti.umich.edu/m/moagrp/


Making of America (University of Michigan)
Access to 9,500 books and almost 2500 digitized issues of 12 journals published in the 19th century. The collection is particularly strong in the areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. Making of America is a collaboration between the libraries of Cornell University and the University of Michigan to document American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction by drawing upon unique primary materials held at each institution. The Cornell site is available at: http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/moa/index.html

Last Update: February 02, 2012 17:00