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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:
- oral histories
- government documents
- 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.
Primary source databases available via IUS Library:
American Civil War: Letters and Diaries
Includes the full text of diaries, letters, and memoirs from the American Civil War, as well as biographies and a bibliography of the sources in the database.
Associated Press Collections Online
An archive of primarily 20th century news materials that provide original perspectives on historical events around the world from a distinguished news reporting organization.
The ability to cross-search multiple primary source collections from the provider Gale is now available on the Gale Primary Sources
British and Irish Women's Letters and Diaries
A collection of published letters and diaries from approximately 500 women, spanning from 1500 to 1900. Represented are all age groups and life stages, all ethnicities, and many geographical regions.
Conditions & Politics in Occupied Western Europe, 1940-1945
A collection of searchable primary source materials covering political life in Western Europe during World War II. Information on both occupied states (including Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and the Vatican), and neutral countries (including Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland) is included. Source materials include intelligence reports and summaries, leaflets, newspaper articles, and film footage of Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents in France from the Imperial War Museum.
Early Encounters in North America: Peoples, Cultures, and the Environment
Contains letters, diaries, memoirs, and accounts of the peoples, cultures, and environment of North America between 1400-1800.
North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories
Includes personal narratives including letters, diaries, pamphlets, autobiographies, and oral histories of immigrants who came to the United States and Canada between 1800 and 1950.
North American Women's Letters and Diaries
Full-text access to the letters and diaries of over a thousand North American women, from the 17th century to the present. Also includes biographies and an annotated bibliography of the sources in the database.
Post War Europe: Refugees, Exile and Resettlement, 1945-1950
Contains primary source materials covering the difficulties faced by European peoples after World War II, with a particular focus on the administration, care, repatriation and emigration of refugees.
Veterans History Project
First-hand accounts of U.S. Veterans from the following wars:
* World War I (1914-1920)
* World War II (1939-1946)
* Korean War (1950-1955)
* Vietnam War (1961-1975)
* Persian Gulf War (1990-1995)
* Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (2001-present)
World Newsreels Online, 1929-1966
Provides access to streaming videos of national and international newsreels produced between 1929 and 1966. This collection includes the complete run of The March of Time series, Universal Studio's Universal Newsreel (1929-1946), U.S. Office of War Information's United Newsreel (1942-1946) as well as several French, Japanese, and Dutch newsreels, all available with English translations.
Primary source tools online
Cornell University: HEARTH
This Home Economics archive "is a core electronic collection of books and journals in Home Economics and related disciplines." Contains titles published between 1850 and 1950.
Duke University Digitized Collections
Archival collections of images, advertisements, sheet music, and primary sources.
Making of America (Cornell University)
Primary sources related to American history from antebellum to reconstruction period.
Making of America (University of Michigan)
Additional collection of primary sources in American social history, primarily from the antebellum period through reconstruction. The resource is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology.
What is a primary source?