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Online Primary Sources

Page history last edited by Kathryn Otto 12 years, 2 months ago

Home > Student/Teacher Section > Online Primary Sources


Finding Primary Sources Online


Archives and other institutions that have digitized some of their collections and made them available online constitute trustworthy websites.  Any online sources your project uses should come from reliable websites.  If you can’t make a visit to an archives, then its website is a reliable place to start.  The following lists contain resources that are statewide in scope or focus on national events. There are many more digital projects online where you may find additional primary sources for your project; ask an archivist if they know of other resources not listed here. 


For ease of reading, we have organized these collections roughly by region. Note, however, that some regional collections may actually contain primary sources of national and even international significance.


Do you know of a resource that would make a good addition to this list? We are currently accepting suggestions for additional online primary source collections and exhibits. Considerations for inclusion will be the size and breadth of the resource; to keep the list manageable we have limited it to websites with coverage at the state level or higher, and/or that focus on major national and international themes or events.


World History


Institution Collection Name/Description URL
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Education page
  The Holocaust: a learning site for students http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/
Eye Witness to History Eye Witness to History http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/index.html
International Civil Rights Hall of Fame International Civil Rights Hall of Fame http://www.nps.gov/features/malu/feat0002/wof/
International Children's Digital Library   http://www.icdlbooks.org/


U.S. History (broad)


Collection Name/Description
Library of Congress
America's Story http://www.americasstory.com/ 
American Memory: Historical Collections for the National Digital Library http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html
  Teachers' Page  



  State Digital Resources: Memory Projects, Online Encyclopedias, Historical & Cultural Materials Collections  http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/state memory/ 
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Digital Classroom http://www.archives.gov/digital_classroom/index.html
  100 Milestone Documents: Documents in the National Archives and Records Administration that chronicle the history of the United States from 1776 to 1965 http://www.ourdocuments.gov/
  DocsTeach, which provides thousands of documents and images from the National Archives as well as learning activities and lessons http://docsteach.org/
National Park Service National Register of Historic Places, "Teaching with Historic Places" http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/
Kids.Gov Portal of government sites for American History  http://www.kids.gov/6_8/6_8_social_studies_us_history.shtml
Smithsonian Institution Smithsonian Institution website http://www.si.edu/
  Pages for educators http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/
Making of America (University of Michigan and Cornell University) A digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/moa/
Duke University Medicine and Madison Avenue http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/mma/
University of California, San Francisco Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (LTDL): this digital library contains more than 13 million documents (70+ million pages) and 7,600 video and audio recordings created by major tobacco companies related to their advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and scientific research activities.


American Museum of Natural History Resources for learning http://www.amnh.org/education/resources/index.php
Museum of the Moving Image The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials, 1952-2008 http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/
Duke University AdAccess: advertisements from the J. Walter Thompson Company Competitive Advertisements Collection http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/adaccess/
History Matters (City University of New York and George Mason University) A project of the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning at the City University of New York, Graduate Center, and the Center for History and New Media of George Mason University http://historymatters.gmu.edu/
Yale University Law School Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy http://avalon.law.yale.edu/ 


Northeast Regional History


Collection name/description
Connecticut Connecticut History Online http://www.cthistoryonline.org/
Maine Maine Memory Network http://www.mainememory.net/ 
Maryland Maryland Historical Society Collections Online  http://www.mdhs.org/museum/collections-online
Massachusetts Harvard University Open Collections Program http://digitalcollections.harvard.edu/
  Massachusetts Historical Society




  Memorial Hall Museum Online: American Centuries--view from New England http://www.memorialhall.mass.edu/home.html
New York New York Historical Society https://www.nyhistory.org/web/default.php?section=education&page=digital_resources
  New York Public Library Digital Collections http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/index.cfm
Vermont Center for Digital Initiatives, University of Vermont  http://cdi.uvm.edu/collections/index.xql


Midwest Regional History


Collection name/description

Indiana Memory http://www.in.gov/memories/
University of Kansas: Territorial Kansas Online
Minnesota Minnesota Reflections (statewide collaboration) http://reflections.mndigital.org/
Nebraska Nebraska State Historical Society and the Nebraska Department of Education http://www.nebraskastudies.org
North Dakota Digital Horizons (Minnesota is also represented) http://www.digitalhorizonsonline.org
Ohio Ohio Memory http://www.ohiomemory.org/
Wisconsin American Journeys: Eyewitness Accounts of Early American Exploration and Settlement (a project of the Wisconsin Historical Society) http://www.americanjourneys.org/
  Connecting to the Classroom: a website for teachers and students on topics in Wisconsin's history http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/teachers/classroom/
  Wisconsin history for kids http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/kids/
  Wisconsin Heritage Online (statewide collaboration) http://www.wisconsinheritage.org/


Southern Regional History


Collection name/description
Florida Florida State Archives Online Classroom http://www.floridamemory.com/OnlineClassroom/ 
Georgia Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site http://www.nps.gov/malu/index.htm
Louisiana Louisiana State University Libraries Special Collections, "The Louisiana Purchase" http://www.lib.lsu.edu/special/purchase/guidelist.html
Mississippi Upper Mississippi Valley Digital Image Archive http://www.umvphotoarchive.org/
Texas Texas Beyond History http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/ 
  Digital History: designed and developed to support the teaching of American History in K-12 schools and colleges (supported by the Dept of History and the College of Education at the Univ. of Houston) http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/
  The Portal to Texas History, hosted by the University of North Texas Libraries http://texashistory.unt.edu/
Virginia Virtual Jamestown: a digital research, teaching and learning project that explores the legacies of the Jamestown settlement and "the Virginia experiment." http://www.virtualjamestown.org/
(General) University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Libraries: Documenting the American South http://docsouth.unc.edu/


Western Regional History


Collection name/description
California Calisphere (materials from libraries, archives, and museums across California, including the Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive) http://www.calisphere.universityofcalifornia.edu/ 
  Sacramento History Online (Sacramento County Office of Education) http://www.sachistoryonline.org/
  California Historical Society educational resources http://www.californiahistoricalsociety.org/programs/edu_materials.html
  UCLA Institute on Primary Resources: Japanese American Internment http://ipr.ues.gseis.ucla.edu/classroom/lessons.html
Montana Montana Memory Project: Montana's Digital Library and Archives (statewide collaboration) http://cdm15018.contentdm.oclc.org/
Oregon Oregon History Project (Oregon Historical Society) http://www.ohs.org/education/oregonhistory/index.cfm
Wyoming Wyoming history, but also history of the West, the United States, and world history as well http://ahc.uwyo.edu/onlinecollections/default.htm



Other Resources for Finding and Evaluating Online Primary Sources

  • Using Primary Sources on the Web, written by the Instruction & Research Services Committee of the Reference and User Service Association History Section in the American Library Association
  • EDSITEment — the Best of the Humanities on the Web: (National Endowment for the Humanities) 
  • Library of Congress list of additional primary source collections (beyond the Library of Congress) 

Society of American Archivists Reference, Access and Outreach Section's National History Day Committee| Credits

The Society of American Archivists does not assume responsibility for the opinions and views published on this auxiliary site.


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