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American Social History since 1865: Primary Source Databases

This LibGuide provides access to primary and secondary sources for research in American social history since 1865.

Primary Source Databases at IUS

What are primary sources?

Primary sources are original records created at the time historical events occurred, or well after events occurred.  Primary sources may include:

  • letters
  • manuscripts
  • diaries
  • journals
  • oral histories
  • newspapers
  • speeches
  • interviews
  • memoirs
  • government documents
  • photographs
  • audio recordings
  • video recordings


These sources serve as the raw material to interpret the past.  When they are used along with previous interpretations by historians, they provide the resources necessary for historical research. 

Below is a video produced by the University of California San Diego Social Sciences & Humanities Library, which may help explain the difference between primary and secondary sources of information.

Free Primary Sources on the Web