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Primary Sources Resources
Primary Sources Resources
Here is a list of places that are more likely to have primary sources. Of course, you still need to read and evaluate all sources before you use them in any project.
The databases provided by your library are a good source of primary sources and provide a good starting point for your projects.
The databases available are: Gale Resources in Context, Gale Student Resources in Context, Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Points of View Reference Center and Britannica School Encyclopedia.
The state of Nebraska provides access to even more databases and sources that you can access from this website.
These resources were compiled from the article, 6 Free Online Sources for Primary Source Documents by Monica Burns, https://www.edutopia.org/blog/online-resources-primary-source-documents-monica-burns.
The National Archives is a fantastic resource. Their website is easy to navigate and includes lots of teacher resources. They feature a daily historical document relating to an event from that day in history. The online catalog can be searched using keywords, and 100 "milestone" documents are identified as significant to American history.
Spartacus Educational is a great resource for global history. It contains free encyclopedia entries that directly connect to primary source documents, making it a perfect tool for educators looking to give students a starting point in their research.
Fordham University is another good resource for global history. Similar to how DocsTeach organizes primary sources into periods of American history, this site categorizes documents as well. From the "Reformation" to "Post-World War II Religious Thought," teachers can find full texts available from Fordham or similar institutions. These sources are appropriate for the middle school and high school classroom.
The Avalon Project
Broken down by time period then listed in alphabetical order, the Avalon Project at Yale University also has primary sources for global history teachers. This database starts with ancient and medieval documents and moves into present times. In addition to categories that address specific historical periods, the Avalon Project includes links to human rights documents as part of Project Diana.
Life Magazine Photo Archive
Google and Life Magazine have a wonderful search engine that lets users search millions of images from the Life Magazine Photo Archive. Not only can you type in key terms to guide your searches, you can also look through images organized by decade (1860s through 1970s) or significant people, places, events or sports topics.
The following resources were compiled from the article, Online Primary Source Collections, https://teachinghistory.org/best-practices/using-primary-sources/24491.
Many Pasts, from the History Matters project of CUNY Graduate Center and George Mason University: This feature of George Mason University’s History Matters project features prepared and selected primary documents in text, image, and audio about the experiences of ordinary Americans throughout U.S. history. The “full search” feature on the site allows users to choose resources by historical period, topic, type of resource, etc.
Smithsonian Source, from the Smithsonian Institute: This collection of primary sources can be searched by keyword, type, or topic, and includes documents on Westward Expansion, Transportation, Civil Rights, Invention, Colonial America, and Native American history. Each set includes selected and excerpted documents.
Docs Teach, from the National Archives: This collection of over 3,000 primary documents is organized by historical era, from the nation’s founding to the present. Documents, including maps, charts, graphs, audio, and video, have been selected by National Archives Staff, and are photographic reproductions of historical sources.
Primary Source Sets (Library of Congress)
Primary Source Sets, from the Library of Congress: This collection, designed for teachers and accompanied by support materials, provides primary source sets for key topics and themes in American history, from Abraham Lincoln to Women’s Suffrage.
Digital Public Library of America
Portal to resources from U.S. libraries, archives, and museums. Browse by place, time, subject, or contributing partner.
"American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity."
Adam Matthew Archive Explorer
Adam Matthew Archive Explorer: Browse or search across 13 collections of primary source material. Subject areas include Native Americans, colonial America, women & gender, Jewish life, immigration, and more. Some parts of this site are paid.
College of San Mateo Primary Resource Page
This page has a lot of great links to connect you to even more sources.
Home Access for Monroe Library Databases
Tutorials & Help for Using the Library Databases
Here are some of the frequently asked for help and tutorials for using the School Library Databases
Finding Primary Sources on the Web
Primary vs Secondary Sources
A primary source provides direct or firsthand evidence about an event, object, person, or work of art. Primary sources include historical and legal documents, eyewitness accounts, results of experiments, statistical data, pieces of creative writing, audio and video recordings, speeches, and art objects. Interviews, surveys, fieldwork, and Internet communications via email, blogs, listservs, and newsgroups are also primary sources. More examples of primary sources:
- Autobiographies and memoirs
- Diaries, personal letters, and correspondence
- Interviews, surveys, and fieldwork
- Internet communications on email, blogs, listservs, and newsgroups
- Photographs, drawings, and posters
- Works of art and literature
- Books, magazine and newspaper articles and ads published at the time
- Public opinion polls
- Speeches and oral histories
- Original documents (birth certificates, property deeds, trial transcripts)
- Research data, such as census statistics
- Official and unofficial records of organizations and government agencies
- Artifacts of all kinds, such as tools, coins, clothing, furniture, etc.
- Audio recordings, DVDs, and video recordings
- Government documents (reports, bills, proclamations, hearings, etc.)
- Technical reports
- Scientific journal articles reporting experimental research results
Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources. Secondary source materials can be articles in newspapers or popular magazines, book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that discuss or evaluate someone else's original research. More examples of secondary sources:
- Biographical works
- Reference books, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, and atlases
- Articles from magazines, journals, and newspapers after the event
- Literature reviews and review articles (e.g., movie reviews, book reviews)
- History books and other popular or scholarly books
- Works of criticism and interpretation
- Commentaries and treatises
- Indexes and abstracts
-From Ithaca College Library (https://library.ithaca.edu/sp/subjects/primary)
Using Wikipedia as a Tool
Although almost all instructors advice against using Wikipedia as a supporting resource for your paper or project, you can still use Wikipedia as a tool to locate other online resources. Look at the References and Resources links at the end of a Wikipedia article to locate outside resources that may link to reliable and useful leads. Try a search for your topic and see if there are any links to online libraries, archives, or other primary material that might help you in your search.
From College of San Mateo Library https://libguides.collegeofsanmateo.edu/history/primarysources
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