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Primary Sources are documents and other materials that provide contemporary, firsthand evidence of a particular historical era or event. Primary source material can include letters, diaries, newspapers, photographs, videos, political documents, speeches, artwork, and more.
Often primary source materials will be collected and published in book form, including published diaries, correspondence, or a variety of documents focused on a particular historical event. Use the following resources to find this material:
You can use the Library of Congress Authorities (controlled vocabulary) to help locate published primary materials:
Look for subject headings that end with the following terms:
- -- Sources
- -- Diaries
- -- Correspondence
- -- Personal narratives
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 162 million items.
American Memory Collections
American Memory is a gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. (Library of Congress)
Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1789-1963. (Library of Congress)
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper and contains billions of items.
Digital Library of America (DPLA)
DPLA brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world.
The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy
Yale collection of digital documents relevant to the fields of Law, History, Economics, Politics, Diplomacy and Government.
Making of America
Making of America (MoA) is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction.
Internet Modern History Sourcebook
Collection of links to historical texts related to modern history.
Documenting the American South
DocSouth includes texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture.