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.
Foreign Relations of the United States
MAIN (GARDNER) STACKS JX233 .A3
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Confidential Print: Latin America, 1833-1969
Covers the South and Central America, plus the non-British islands of the Caribbean, from just after the final Spanish withdrawal from mainland America in the 1820s to the Cold War in the 1960s. Covering revolutions, territorial changes and political movements, foreign financial interests, industrial and infrastructural development (including the building of the Panama Canal), wars, slavery, immigration from Europe and relations with indigenous peoples, amongst other topics. The series originated out of a need for the Government to preserve all of the most important papers generated by the Foreign and Colonial Offices. Some of these were one-page letters or telegrams; others were large volumes or texts of treaties. All items marked Confidential Print were printed and circulated immediately to leading officials in the Foreign Office, to the Cabinet and to heads of British missions abroad. Cross search with other Adam Matthews resources (Confidential Print: Africa and Foreign Office Files: China) by going to Archives Direct: Sources from the National Archives, UK.
Confidential Print: Middle East
Covers such events as the Egyptian reforms of Muhammad Ali Pasha in the nineteenth century, the Middle East Conference of 1921, the Mandates for Palestine and Mesopotamia and the Suez Crisis in 1956, to the partition of Palestine, post-Suez Western foreign policy and the Arab-Israeli conflict. This collection originated out of a need to preserve the most important papers generated by the Foreign and Colonial Offices. These documents range from single-page letters or telegrams to comprehensive dispatches, investigative reports and texts of treaties. All items marked "Confidential Print" were printed and circulated immediately to leading officials in the Foreign Office, to the Cabinet, and to heads of British missions abroad. These historical documents inform the volatile situation in the region today. Cross search with other Adam Matthews resources (Confidential Print: Africa and Foreign Office Files: China) by going to Archives Direct: Sources from the National Archives, UK.)
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