Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Major Primary Source Collections
Find more by Googling your topic and stick "primary sources" at the end of your search. There are many collections available online for free.
Example: working women factory "primary sources"
You can also Google "primary sources" and LibGuides to find library research guides that have listed links to a variety of primary source collections. Many academic libraries use a tool called LibGuides made by Springshare to create guides, including the one for your class.
Example: working class women "primary sources" libguides
Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)
DPLA offers a single point of access to millions of items from digital collections around the United States. Includes photographs, manuscripts, books, sounds, moving images and more. Search by topic, timeline, map, and format.
A free public gateway to thousands of digitized primary sources - including photographs, documents, newspaper clippings, works of art - from UC museums and libraries and other cultural heritage institutions across California. Designed with a special emphasis on serving California teachers.
Online Archive of California
A website providing free public access to detailed descriptions of primary source collections (manuscripts, historic photos, etc.) maintained by libraries, archives, and museums throughout California.
Internet Archive collects published works and make them available in digital formats. We are building a public library that can serve anyone in the world with access to the Internet. https://archive.org/ This also includes the Wayback Machine which allows users to search, browse, and access snapshots of the internet archived through its database since 2001. Internet Archive has also created GifCities, the GeoCities Animated GIF Search Engine https://gifcities.org/
Library of Congress
Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps, and manuscripts in its collections. The Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Their digital collections span a wide variety of subjects and formats –including tweets!
National Archives Records Administration (NARA)
The National Archives Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper. Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept by NARA forever. NARA has online exhibits that cover a wide variety of topics and formats that document our history. https://www.archives.gov/exhibits NARA has also put together a list of digital collections as well as subject-oriented virtual collections. https://www.archives.gov/research/alic/reference/virtual-library.html#m1
Primary Sources Databases
Find more using both the Subject and All Databases by Type limiters in the Databases A-Z list.
Historical Statistics of the United States Millennial Edition
Statistical series on subjects ranging from population and land area to production figures for crops and manufactured products. Detailed documentation provides brief histories of the statistical series and source materials.
Eighteenth Century Collections Online (Gale)
Digital images of 150,000 books published during the 18th Century. With full-text searching of texts in the fields of history, literature, religion, law, fine arts, science and more.
Bibliography of British and Irish History
Provides bibliographic data on historical writing dealing with the British Isles, and with the British Empire and Commonwealth, during all periods for which written documentation is available - from 55BC to the present. Also provides links to online catalogs from libraries in Britain, Ireland and the USA, and provides links to online text where available.
Discovering American Womens History Online
Provides access to digital collections of primary sources (photos, letters, diaries, artifacts, etc.) that document the history of women in the United States. These diverse collections range from Ancestral Pueblo pottery to interviews with women engineers from the 1970s.
Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker
1801 - 1819. Covering every aspect of American life during the early decades of the United States, this primary source collection provides full-text access to the 36,000 American books & pamphlets published in the first 19 years of the nineteenth century.
Early American Imprints Series I: Evans
1639 - 1800. A major collection of 17th and 18th century books and pamphlets based on Charles Evans American Bibliography. Covers every aspect of life in 17th- and 18th-century America, from agriculture and auctions through foreign affairs, diplomacy, literature, music, religion, the Revolutionary War, & more. (Use Series II for 1801-1819.)
Early English Books Online (EEBO)
1475 - 1700. Full text and page images of books from English language titles. Search by subject, title, author. Contains over 100,000 titles. Includes works listed in Pollard & Redgrave's Short-Title Catalogue (1475 - 1640), Wing's Short-Title Catalogue (1641 - 1700), and the Thomason Tracts (1640 - 1661).
European Views of the Americas (EBSCO)
1493 - 1750. Bibliographic database containing more than 32,000 entries. A comprehensive guide to printed records about the Americas written in Europe before 1750. Covers the history of European exploration as well as portrayals of native American peoples.
Everyday Life and Women in America
A resource for the study of American social, cultural, and popular history, providing access to rare primary source material from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History, Duke University and The New York Public Library. Comprises thousands of fully searchable images of monographs, pamphlets, & periodicals addressing 19th and early 20th century issues.
North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories
Provides access to personal accounts of immigrants who came to America and Canada between 1800 and 1950.
Royal Society Publishing
1665 - present. Access to the historical journal of the worlds oldest scientific academy, the Royal Society. Includes ~60,000 scientific papers permanently free to access online.
Virginia Company Archives
Virginia Company Archives documents the history of Virginia as seen through the papers of the Virginia Company of London, 1606-1624, the continuing interest of the Ferrar family in the settlement of North America, trade between Britain and America, the ethnic and gender composition of early Virginia, and tensions amongst the colonists and of early relations with Native Americans.
Women and Social Movements in the United States
1600 - 2000. Database of digitized books, images, documents, essays and bibliographies documenting women's reform activities in the U.S., mostly from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Historical Newspaper Databases
Find more using both the Subject and All Databases by Type limiters in the Databases A-Z list.
Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Burney Newspapers Collection (Gale)
Represents the largest single collection of 17th and 18th century English news media available from the British Library. Includes more than 1,000 pamphlets, proclamations, newsbooks and newspapers from the period.
Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers (Gale)
Provides access to primary source newspaper content from the 19th century, featuring full-text content and images from numerous newspapers. Emphasis on such topics as the American Civil War, African-American culture and history, Western migration and Antebellum-era life.
African American Newspapers
1827 - 1998. Provides online access to approximately 270 U.S. newspapers chronicling a century and a half of the African American experience. This unique collection features papers from more than 35 states, including many rare and historically significant
America's Historical Newspapers
1690 - 1900. Full text of historical American newspapers from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Searchable via Readexs Archive of Americana interface. Includes Early American Newspapers series 1 (1690-1876) and 2 (1758-1900) and Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808 - 1980.
C19: The Nineteeneth Century Index
A source for nineteenth-century books, periodicals, official documents, newspapers and archives. Draws on established indexes such as the Nineteenth Century Short Title Catalogue, The Wellesley Index, Poole's Index and Periodicals Index Online to create integrated bibliographic coverage.
California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC)
Includes over 150,000 digitized pages of California newspapers spanning the years 1849-1911. They include the Alta California (1849-1889); the San Francisco Call (1900-1910); the Amador Ledger (1900-1911); the Imperial Valley Press (1901-1911); and the Los Angeles Herald (1905-1907).
California Historical Newspapers
Provides access to many California newspapers of historical significance dating as far back as 1849. Newspapers from San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose, Stockton and Benicia are included.
Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
Search and read newspaper pages from 1777-1963 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).
Ethnic NewsWatch (ProQuest)
Includes Ethnic NewsWatch: A History. Full text access to U.S. ethnic community newspapers, newsletters, magazines. Includes African-American, Arab/Middle Eastern, Asian-Pacific, European-American, Hispanic, Jewish, Native-American. Searchable in English and Spanish.
Hispanic American Newspapers
1808 - 1980. A collection of Spanish-language and Spanish/English newspapers printed in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. Coverage begins in 1808 with the first Spanish-language newspaper printed in the U.S.
London Times Digital Archive
1785 - 2013. The Times covers all major international historical events from the French Revolution to the Falkland War. Search the full-text of the entire newspaper, including articles, editorials and advertising.
ProQuest Historical Newspapers (Combined)
Provides full-text access to eight historical newspapers including the Chicago Defender (1910-1975), Chicago Tribune (1849-1991), Los Angeles Times (1881-1991), New York Times (1851-2008), San Francisco Chronicle (1865-1922), Wall Street Journal (1889-1994), Washington Post (1877-1995).