AMER STD 139AC: Civil Rights and Social Movements in US 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.

Sample Searches for Primary Sources in OskiCat

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

-personal narratives


1.   (keywords)  gay rights sources
       (subject)  gay rights united states history sources
       (keywords)  mexican american* vietnam* personal narratives

2.  Search individuals as author AND as subjects:

(author)  chavez, cesar
(subject)  chavez, cesar

3.   search by organizational author:

author:  mattachine society

4.  Also try limiting by date:

advanced keyword

(keywords) homosexuality

language:  english

years:  1945  to 1970

sort by date

5.  limit by format:

(keywords)  american indian movement    pull down "entire collection" menu to "sound recordings"

Sample Searches - Primary Source Databases

Library home > Electronic Resources > By Type > Archival Collections and Primary Sources > Sixties:  Primary Documents and Personal Narratives

Browse > Browse Subjects > Themes (examples:  gay and lesbian movements; women's movements)


Search > All Subjects:  american indian (then select from list)
                                  :  alcatraz
                                  :  mexican


Primary Source Databases - More Examples

Library databases of primary sources in  American history

All library databases of primary sources

  • Ethnic News Watch
    Indexes over 200 ethnic, minority, and native press publications. Contains news, culture, and history searchable in both English and Spanish. Also includes a retrospective backfile of titles (1960-1989).
  • GenderWatch
    Includes magazines, academic journals, newspapers, newsletters, books, pamphlets, conference proceedings, and government reports that focus on the impact of gender across a broad spectrum of subject areas.
  • Rock and Roll, Counterculture, Peace and Protest
    A collection of original archival material from libraries in Britain and America covering issues such as youth culture, student protest movements, civil rights, women's rights, the Vietnam War, nuclear disarmament and popular culture in Britain and America from 1950 to 1975.
  • Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (WASM)
    Contains 110 document projects and archives with almost 4,200 documents, more than 1,000 images, with more than 2,200 primary authors. Collects and analyzes documents and almost 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.
  • Historical Newspapers (ProQuest)
    Includes Chicago Defender (1910-1975). Chicago Tribune (1849-1988). Los Angeles Times (1881-1988). San Francisco Chronicle (1865-1922). New York Times (1851-1994) with Index (1851-1993). Wall Street Journal (1889-1994). Washington Post (1877-1995).
  • Readers' Guide Retrospective
    Covers more than 500 leading American magazines and journals from 1890 to 1982.
  • ProQuest Congressional
    One stop shopping for U.S. congressional publications. Provides index and abstracts of congressional publications back to 1789, including full text of published Congressional Hearings from 1824-present (unpublished until 1979), full text Committee Prints from 1830-present, full text Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports from 1916-present, full text United States Congressional Serial Set (and its various former titles) from 1789-present, and legislative histories from 1970-present.
  • LexisNexis Academic
    Includes over 6,000 individual titles of international, national and local newspapers and wire services; radio and television transcripts; and business, medical, industry, and legislative magazines, journals, and newsletters. Wide geographic coverage and translations from foreign-language sources, as well as news services like the Associated Press, Agence France Press, El Pais and Xinhua (New China) News Agency.

Primary Sources - Authoritative Web Sites

Library of Congress:  American Memory

Browse by Topic:  (example:  Native American History, Women's History)

Online Archive of California

A searchable and browseable resource that brings together historical materials from a variety of California institutions, including museums, historical societies, and archives. Contains over 120,000 images; 50,000 pages of documents, letters, and oral histories; and 8,000 guides to collections. Images are organized into thematic and institutional collections, such as historical topics, nature, places, and technology.

Documents from the Women's Liberation Movement

GLBT Historical Society

Lesbian Herstory Archives


Finding Supreme Court Cases

Supreme Court cases



Making of Modern Law: US Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978

A fully searchable collection of briefs and other documents related to cases brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. It contains over 150,000 cases and 350,000 documents. Search results are linked to the actual full-text PDF documents.
  • Lexis-Nexis Academic (Supreme Court briefs 1936- onwards)
    In the "Look up a Legal case" section, click on  Landmark Cases
    on the left, click on Supreme Court Briefs

 Oral arguments:

    • Oyez Project:  Audio recordings of oral arguments before Supreme Court 1968 - 2010
      • selective before 1968 and after 2010
      • Briefs and opinions also selectively available.
    • Supreme Court of the US official web site:  transcripts of oral arguments 2000 - present
      • audio of oral arguments 2010 - present
Last Update: September 12, 2013 11:09