Primary sources can be found in a variety of library tools:
- Catalogs: OskiCat and Melvyl
- Online book and text collections
- Primary Source databases provided by the Library
includes databases for finding newspaper articles, such as Historical Newspapers (ProQuest) or magazine articles, such as Reader's Guide
- Vetted sites on the web:
Learn more about your topic in advance:
- names of relevant individuals and organizations
- dates of events
- what terminology was used at the time by participants and observers? (ex: negro or colored instead of african american)
Searching OskiCat for Primary Sources
Search OskiCat for primary sources using keywords and adding terms that denote primary sources, such as:
puerto rican* interviews
african american soldiers personal narratives
irish american* newspapers
Searching Article Databases for Primary Sources
Library home > Electronic Resources > Electronic Resources Types A-Z > Archival Collections and Primary Source Databases > Historical Newspapers (ProQuest)
negro* (citation and document text)
freeman (citation and document text)
immigra* (citation and document text)
from: 1/1/1870 12/31/1910
Watch the movie version! (1 min 45 sec)
Note: if you aren't finding enough, think of new terms, or think more broadly:
mendez v. westminster = 0 results
school* (citation and document text)
segregat* (citation and document text)
mexican* (citation and document text)
from: 1/1/1945 12/31/1948
Primary Source Databases
This list represents resources available from the Library's collection of digital archival collection and primary source databases that may be useful to you. Depending on your topic, you may find other resources on that list more helpful.
AccessUN: The Readex Index to United Nations Documents
Indexes United Nations (UN) documents and publications including Official Records, UN journals, reports, treaties, conferences, draft resolutions, declarations, meeting records, UN Sales Publications, and UN Treaty Series. Contains the full text of several thousand UN documents.
Conditions and Politics in Occupied Western Europe, 1940-1945
Records political life in Occupied Western Europe available to the British Government during World War II from the original intelligence reports received by the British Foreign Office. Indexed by year and section, from the occupied states of Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and the Vatican, and the neutral countries -- Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Includes a day-by-day chronology of the war, photographs and posters from The National Archives and film footage of Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents in France from the Imperial War Museum.
Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports
Information from thousands of foreign media sources, including political speeches, television and radio broadcasts, newspapers, periodicals, and more, offering an extensive collection of military, political, scientific and technical reports from countries around the world, translated into English. The original mission of the FBIS was to monitor, record, transcribe and translate intercepted radio broadcasts from foreign governments, official news services, and clandestine broadcasts from occupied territories. Coverage is global with the exception of the FBIS Annexes (a supplementary publication created by the U.S. intelligence community to benefit analysts and policy makers from April 1974 through September 1996) and Western European regional broadcasts.
DDRS (Declassified Documents Reference System)
Over 75,000 documents and almost 500,000 pages of materials declassified via the Freedom of Information Act and regular declassification requests, making broad-based and highly targeted investigation of government documents possible. Nearly every major foreign and domestic event of these years is covered.
Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Electronic Index
Indexes the FBIS Daily Reports issued by the US Government covering political, economic, scientific, and cultural issues and events throughout the world. Translations of broadcasts, news agency transmissions, newspapers, periodicals, and government statements from various nations are the sources of this information. Reports since 1996 can be found in WorldNews Connection.
Digital National Security Archive (DNSA)
Indexes over 35,000 declassified documents spanning fifty years of US national security policy. Also includes a chronology, glossary of names, events, special terms, and a bibliography for each collection developed around a specific event, controversy, or policy decision.
World News Connection
Translated transcriptions and summaries of radio and television broadcasts, newspaper articles, conference proceedings, periodicals and non-classified technical reports, representing nearly every country in the world. The material is selected and translated to serve the information needs of US government agencies, so is especially strong in the fields of politics, economics, military affairs, environment, and social issues. Reports from 1975-1996 can be found in the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Electronic Index.
Provides direct access to more than 2 million digital objects, including film material, photos, paintings, sounds, maps, manuscripts, books, newspapers and archival papers. Europeana -- the European digital library, museum and archive -- began in July 2007 and is funded by the European Commission and its member states. This current prototype is one of many parallel projects of The European Library.
Foreign Office Files for China, 1919-1980
The complete British Foreign Office Files dealing with China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in this period from 1919 (the beginning of the Republic of China) to 1949 (when the Chinese Communist Party won power) to 1976 (the year of Mao Zedong's death) to 1990. These resources are from the National Archives, Kew, the UK government's official archive. Cross search with other Adam Matthews resources (Confidential Print: Africa and Confidential Print: Latin America) by going to Archives Direct: Sources from the National Archives, UK.
House of Commons Parliamentary Papers
Provides full-text access to thousands of 18th, 19th and 20th Century Parliamentary Papers. Includes all the "sessional papers" of the British Parliament: bills, reports of committees, papers presented by Royal Commissions and government departments, treaties and international agreements, command papers, and statistics.
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.
ProQuest Legislative Insight
Provides access to more than 18,000 professionally researched legislative histories of US Law. Histories include the Public Law itself, all versions of related bills, law-specific Congressional Record excerpts, committee hearings, reports and prints, Presidential signing statements, and CRS reports. 1929-present
Primary Sources on the Internet
Just a few examples of what's out there - but be careful to evaluate what you find!
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.
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