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Primary Document Databases  

Last Updated: Oct 12, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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Recommended Links

  • African American History Digital Library
    A collection of primary resources from Black College libraries and archives. It includes several thousand scanned pages and represents HBCU libraries first collaborative effort to make a historic collection digitally available.
  • African Americans & the U.S. Coast Guard
    An account written by retired Chief Journalist Alex Haley.
  • African-American History & the Civil War
    Maintained by the National Parks Service, this site contains information about African-Americans in the Civil War as well as a worthwhile summary of their service through American History
  • African-American Involvement in the Vietnam War
    Welcome to the virtual library of materials published about African-American involvement in the Vietnam War. 'Involvement' is defined as those who served and those who protested.
  • Alabama Mosaic
    Unique historical treasures from Alabama's archives, libraries, museums, universities and other repositories.
  • American Civil War Collections
    Primary documents include letters, diaries and legal texts.
  • American Civil War in Missouri
    The Civil War in Missouri collection includes letters and diaries offering valuable insight into how Missourians—both civilians and those in the military—experienced the Civil War.
  • American Folklife Center
    An online oral history collections from around the United States.
  • American Journeys
    Eyewitness accounts of North American exploration including the journals and diaries of explorers, Indians, missionaries, traders and settlers as they lived through the founding moments of American history.
  • American Memory
    American Memory provides access to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience.
  • American Museum of Natural History Research Library
    This collection includes full-text PDFs of current and back issues of publications by scientists and their colleagues from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in the areas of zoological systematic, paleontology, geology, evolution, and anthropology.
  • American Notes
    Published narratives by Americans and foreign visitors recounting their travels in the colonies and the United States and their observations and opinions about American peoples, places, and society from about 1750 to 1920.
  • American Presidency
    The online manifestation of 'The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden,' an exhibit from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History of objects that represent the lives and times of the country's 42 presidents.
  • American Presidency Project
    The American Presidency Project is an archive of documents related to the study of the Presidency established in 1999 by scholars at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology
    From 1936 to 1938, over 2,300 former slaves from across the American South were interviewed by writers and journalists under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration. These former slaves provided first-hand accounts of their experiences on plantations, in cities, and on small farms.
  • Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in America: A Visual Record
    These 1,000 images depict Atlantic slavery. Images are divided into 18 categories.
  • Been Here So Long
    Selections from the WPA American Slave Narratives.
  • Berkeley Digital Library Collection
    Includes Catalonian manuscripts, American literature, and topographic history of California, Icelandic Genome and more.
  • Bibliografia Mesoamericana
    Expands on Ignacio Bernal's Bibliographia de arqueologia y etmografia: Mesoamerica y Norte de Mexico, 1514-1960 to create a bibliography of published materials from 1514 onward. Includes materials on archaeology, ethnography, ethnohistory, art history, linguistics, physical anthropology and related disciplines.
  • Black Combat Units in Korean War Action
    An account of the last segregated units of the American Armed forces during wartime.
  • Black Participation in the Spanish American War
    Despite its poor background image, this article contains a detailed account and bibliography concerning African-Americans' role in the war.
  • British Library's Turning the Pages Online Gallery
    See the Lisbon Hebrew Bible (15th century), Baybar's Magnificant Qur'an with wonderful Arabic calligraphy, and the Bible from Ethiopia commissioned around 1700.
  • Buffalo Soldiers & Indian Wars
    Photographs, videos, and text narratives of the battles and history of these American regiments in the US-Indian Wars.
  • Chicano Art - California Ethnic & Multicultural Archives
    See thousands of digital cultural and visual art images from the Chicano/Latino community.
  • Chronicling America
    Contains newspaper pages from 1880-1922 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present.
  • Civil Rights Digital Library
    The Civil Rights Digital Library promotes an enhanced understanding of the Movement by helping users discover primary sources and other educational materials from libraries, archives, museums, public broadcasters, and others on a national scale.
  • Colorado History Newspapers Collection
    Search 18 Colorado newspapers including Colorado Daily Republican & Rocky Mountain Herald, Colorado Miner, Rocky Mountain News Weekly, Denver Daily Times, and the Daily Register Call.
  • Compilation of Presidential Documents (2005-PRESENT)
    The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents is published every Monday and is the official publication of presidential statements, messages, remarks, and other materials released by the White House Press Secretary.
  • Connecticut History Online
    Connecticut History Online (CHO) is a digital collection of over 15,000 digital primary sources, together with associated interpretive and educational material.
  • Digital Quaker Collection
    DQC is a searchable digital library containing full text and page images of over 500 individual Quaker works from the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Documenting the American South
    Southern history, literature and culture from the colonial period through the first decade of the 1900's.
  • Dred Scott Case Collection
    The records document Dred and Harriet Scotts' early struggle to gain their freedom through litigation and are the only extant records of this significant case as it was heard in the St. Louis Circuit Court.
  • First-Person Narratives of the American South
    This is a collection of diaries, autobiographies, memoirs, travel accounts, and ex-slave narratives written by Southerners. The majority of materials in this collection are written by those Southerners whose voices were less prominent in their time, including African Americans, women, enlisted men, laborers, and Native Americans.
  • Florida & the Civil War
    Florida and the Civil War provides online access to primary sources about the American Civil War from the collections of the 1. Department of Special & Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Library, University of Florida.
  • Georgia Historical Newspapers
    The Atlanta Historic Newspapers Archive spans the years 1847-1922.
  • Gilmer Civil War Maps Collection
    The Gilmer maps are an extensive group of Civil War maps, including both manuscript maps and printed maps with manuscript annotations and engineers' drawings of military construction,
  • Global Gateway: World Cultures
    See digital collections of the Atlantic World, Meeting of the Frontiers, and individual digital international collections such as Cuneiform tablets, Islamic manuscripts, Lewis Carroll scrapbook, Nazi manuscript collection, and more.
  • Harry S. Truman Library & Museum
  • Historic Context for the African-American Military Experience
    A lengthy and detailed account of African-American military service through the present.
  • Historical New York Time Newspaper (ProQuest)
    The New York Times (1851-2007) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue.
  • Historical Voices Galleries
    Fully searchable database of spoken work collections spanning the 20th century. Includes Earliest Voices with sound recordings from 1877-1927, Stud Terkel's Conversations with American, OYEZ Project (U.S. Supreme Court); History and Politics Out Loud, and the African Digital Library.
  • Integration of the Armed Forces
    A chronology of both African-American military service and integration of the Armed Forces.
  • Kansas Memory Digital Archives
    Kansas Memory is the largest digital repository of primary sources on Kansas history. It includes more than 160,000 images of truly unique photos, maps, diaries, government records, posters, pamphlets, artifacts, films, audio recordings, and much more from the collections of the Kansas Historical Society. The collections span the entire history of Kansas from pre-settlement to the present with thousands of items from Kansas Territory and the Civil War.
  • Land of (Un)Equal Opportunity
    Documenting the civil rights struggle in Arkansas offers a variety of records and photographs that document the history of civil rights in the state.
  • Making of America (Michigan)
    Making of America Collection is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction.
  • National Archives in Kansas City
    At the National Archives location in Kansas City you can see original historical documents, photographs, maps, drawings, artifacts, and much more, from nearly 100 Federal agencies. By law, we preserve and provide access to permanently valuable, non-current Federal records with historical, legal, or fiscal value.
  • New York Public Library Digital Gallery
    NYPL Digital Gallery provides free and open access to over 700,000 images digitized from the The New York Public Library's vast collections, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs and more.
  • North American Slave Narratives
    This collection includes all the existing autobiographical narratives of fugitive and former slaves published as broadsides, pamphlets, or books in English up to 1920. Also included are many of the biographies of fugitive and former slaves and some significant fictionalized slave narratives published in English before 1920.
  • North Carolina Civil War Image Portfolio
    Images in the North Carolina Collection depicting the war are from woodcuts, engravings, lithographs, and photographs. The overwhelming majority of these were made by persons accompanying Union forces or were made from sketches and other information they provided.
  • North Carolina Newspaper Digitization Project
    The project was finished in 2009 and the entire collection is now available online - a total of 23,483 digital images that are keyword searchable and include papers dating from 1751-1890s from cities like Edenton (1787-1801), Fayetteville (1798-1795), Hillsboro (1786), New Bern (1751-1804), Salisbury (1799-1898), and Wilmington (1765-1816).
  • Nurenberg Trial Project: A Digital Document Collection
    Nearly 1 million pages of documents relating to the trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal and to the twelve trials of other accused war criminals before the United State Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT).
  • ODS: Official Documents of the United Nations
    The ODS comprises the full text of United Nations parliamentary documents (including resolutions and decisions) issued at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the United Nations Office in Geneva since 1993 as well as at the United Nations Office in Vienna since 1997.
  • Oral History Collection
    Recorded interviews focusing on Alabama life, history and culture; includes civil rights and women's suffrage workers, textile mill and industrial laborers, and many other persons sharing their stories.
  • Oxford African American Center Online (Oxford)
    The Oxford African American Studies Center combines the authority of carefully edited reference works with sophisticated technology to create the most comprehensive collection of scholarship available online to focus on the lives and events which have shaped African American and African history and culture.
  • Pennsylvania Civil War Era Newspaper Collection
    Pennsylvania Civil War Era Newspaper Collection contain all the words, photographs, and advertisements from selected newspapers published during the pivotal years before, during, and after the U.S. Civil War. 
  • Philadelphia 1876 Centennial Exhibition Digital Collection
    Web version of the 100th birthday party for the United States. See unique collection of silver albumen photographs of buildings, machinery, outdoor sculptures seen in Philadelphia in 1876.
  • Public Papers of the President of the United States
    The Public Papers of the Presidents began in 1957 in response to a recommendation of the National Historical Publications Commission. Noting the lack of uniform compilations of messages and papers of the Presidents before this time, the Commission recommended the establishment of an official series in which Presidential writings, addresses, and remarks of a public nature could be made available.
  • Repositories of Primary Sources  
    Websites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources for the research scholar. All links have been tested for correctness and appropriateness. Links added or revised within the last thirty days or so are marked
  • Roy Bird Cook Collection. 31st Virginia Regiment (CSA).
    This collection of more than 3000 documents relates to the 31st Virginia Regiment of the Confederate Army. The regiment was primarily composed of western Virginia volunteers and served in many major conflicts during the course of the Civil War.
  • Scott's Official History of the American Negro in the World War
    A full-text version of a book detailing the involvement of Black Americans in World War I, as written by Emmett J. Scott, Special Adjutant to the Secretary of War. Copyright 1919.
  • Territorial Kansas Online
    Explore the turbulent times of 'Bleeding Kansas.' Hundreds of personal letters, diaries, photos, and maps bring to life the settling of Kansas during the fierce debate over slavery.
  • Text of Truman's Executive Order
    On July 26, 1948, President Truman issued Executive Order 9981 establishing equality of treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services. This historic document can be viewed here.
  • The Civil War Collection at Penn State
    Over 20 digital collections regarding the Civil War in Pennsylvania.
  • The Revolution's Black Soldiers
    This is a lengthy article about the role African-Americans played in the war. It includes an extensive bibliography and links to related web pages.
  • The Southern Homefront 1861-1865
    The Southern Homefront, 1861-1865,' presents documents related to all aspects of Southern life during the Civil War. This collection includes over four hundred Civil War era maps, broadsides, photographs, printed works, Confederate currency, and manuscript letters and diaries.
  • The Truman Administration & the Desegregation of the Armed Forces: a Chronology
    A timeline that explains efforts during Truman's Presidency to desegregate the Armed Forces.
  • Thomas Jefferson Online
    This guide combines links to the major online collections of Jefferson's writings that have been made accessible by U.Va., as well as by other institutions.
  • Through the Lens of Time: Images of African Americans from the Cook Collection
    This is a digital collection of over 250 images of African Americans dating from the nineteenth and early twentieth century, selected from the George and Huestis Cook Photograph Collection at the Valentine Richmond History Center. The Cook Collection consists of over 10,000 negatives taken from the 1860s to the 1930s in Virginia and the Carolinas.
  • Tuskegee Airmen
    The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II were America's first black military airmen. This website presents their history in photos and text and encourages today's youth in aviation careers.
  • University of Delaware Library Digital Collection
    Multiple collections but 5 dedicated to the Civil War era.
  • USS Mason
    A detailed look at the USS Mason, a World War II destroyer with a predominantly Black crew.
  • War Poster Collection - Digital Collections at University of Washington
    A selection of World War I and II posters include propaganda of purchasing war bonds, the importance of national security, etc.
  • Western History Digital Collections
    The Western History Collections is a special collection within the University of Oklahoma Libraries system. Its purpose is to enhance the University Libraries general collection on the history of the American West; to support the research and teaching programs of the University of Oklahoma; and to provide opportunities for research through the acquisition, preservation, and access of materials relating to the development of the Trans-Mississippi West and Native American cultures.
  • World War II (US) Digital Library
    The Historic Government Publications from World War II contains 343 Informational pamphlets, government reports, instructions, regulations, declarations, speeches, and propaganda materials distributed by the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) during the Second World War.

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