Primary Sources for the Humanities: Global

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General international resources

Search across multiple collections for monographs, manuscripts, newspapers, photographs, maps, and other primary sources.

Digital National Security Archive
Created in collaboration with the National Security Archive, this database contains the most comprehensive set of declassified government documents covering all critical world events from post World War II through the 21st century.

Empire Online
Manuscripts, print, and visual primary sources on colonial history, politics, culture and society around the world from 1492 to 1969. Collection also includes scholarly essays, which provide background information on materials.

Ethnographic Video Online
The largest, most comprehensive resource for the study of human culture and behavior – more than 750 hours and 1,000 films. The collection covers every region of the world and features the work of many of the most influential documentary filmmakers of the 20th century, including interviews, previously unreleased raw footage, field notes, study guides, and more.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports 1974-1996
The FBIS monitored, recorded, transcribed and translated intercepted radio broadcasts from foreign governments, official news services, and clandestine broadcasts from occupied territories. This collection represents global views on United States foreign and domestic policy after World War II, and covers the Cold War, China, the Middle East, Latin America, the Soviet Union, and more.  

Making of the Modern World
Digital facsimiles from books, serials, pamphlets and more, containing materials on commerce, finance, social conditions, politics, trade, and transport from 1450 to 1850.

Medieval Travel Writing 
Scans of European travel writing manuscripts from 1200-1500 about journeys to Central Asia, China, India, Mongolia, Persia, and Southeast Asia.

Military History Primary Sources Guide (University of Washington)
A research guide to primary and secondary sources for military history from the University of Washington Libraries. The site includes links to primary sources for both World Wars, The American Civil War, and the Vietnam War.  

David Rumsey Map Collection 
This collection of over 28,000 items focuses on rare 18th and 19th century North American and South American maps and cartographic materials. Historic maps of the World, Europe, Asia, and Africa are also represented. 

Repositories of Primary Sources 
A listing of over 5000 websites with holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, photographs, and other primary sources. Lists organized by geographic region, with collections spanning the globe. 

Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice, 1490-2007 
This resource brings together primary source documents from archives and libraries across the Atlantic world, including original manuscripts and rare printed material on trans-Atlantic slavery and abolition.

Smithsonian Global Sound
Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries is an online encyclopedia of the world's musical and aural traditions. The collection includes over 35,000 recordings owned by the non-profit Smithsonian Folkways Recordings label and the archival audio collections of the legendary Folkways Records, Cook, Dyer-Bennet, Fast Folk, Monitor, Paredon and other labels.

World Art Treasures 
A collection of 100,000 images devoted to art from the collection of Jacques-Edouard Berger (1945-1993), taken during cultural journeys to Europe, Egypt, the Middle East, and the United States.

World Digital Library (Library of Congress) 

World Digital Library was a project of the U.S. Library of Congress, with the support of UNESCO, and contributions from libraries, archives, museums, educational institutions, and international organizations around the world. The WDL sought to preserve and share some of the world’s most important cultural objects, increasing access to cultural treasures and significant historical documents to enable discovery, scholarship, and use.

World War I Document Archive 
An online archive of primary documents from World War I with an international focus.


Africa Primary Sources Guide (University of Washington)
A research guide to primary and secondary sources in African history from the University of Washington Libraries. The site is organized into regions including West Africa, Southern Africa, East Africa, and Central Africa, and also includes country-specific resources. The collection includes photographs, sound recordings, raw data about the slave trade, and letters.

African Oral Narratives 

This digital library contains 6 collections of oral and life histories, folklore, and songs from Ethiopia, Ghana, and South Africa. These audio and video resources capture the voices and experiences of ordinary men and women. In more than a half dozen African languages, these materials can be used for conducting historical research and to learn about many African cultures and languages.

Africa South of the Sahara Primary Sources Guide (Stanford University) 
This list from Stanford University is an annotated directory of selected internet resources about Africa. Browse the collection by country or by topic. 

Black Short Fiction and Folklore

This collection brings together 82,000 pages and more than 11,000 works of short fiction produced by writers from Africa and the African Diaspora from the earliest times to the present. The materials have been compiled from early literary magazines, archives, and the personal collections of the authors.  Includes: oral traditions; contemporary tales of modern life; complete runs of thematic literary magazines; early North American black-owned and edited journals and newspapers.

Internet African History Sourcebook 
An African history portal with links to both primary and secondary sources.


Asia Primary Sources Guide (University of Washington)
A research guide to primary and secondary sources in Asian history from the University of Washington Libraries.The site is organized into regions including East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, and by country.

China: Trade, Politics and Culture, 1793-1980
Manuscripts, paintings, maps, photographs, drawings, and missionary periodicals documenting the experiences of British and American diplomats, missionaries, business people, and tourists in China from 1793 to 1980.

Foreign Office Files for China 1949-1980
British Foreign Office files dealing with China, Hong Kong and Taiwan between 1949 and 1980. Materials include formerly restricted British government documents, letters, newspapers, maps, reports of court cases, biographies of leading personalities, summaries of events, and more.

Harrison Brown Collection 
Harrison Brown (1893-1977) was a freelance journalist who travelled extensively through Scandinavia, the USSR, Japan, Korea, and China in 1936-37. This collection features some of the photographs Brown took in China. 

Japan Times Archives

Searchable collection of digitized issues of The Japan Times, The Japan Advertiser, The Japan Times & Mail, The Japan Times and Advertiser, and The Nippon Times. Includes issues from March 22, 1897 through the final issue of the previous calendar year.

Komagata Maru: Continuing the Journey 
A collection of primary material and educational resources on South Asian immigration to Canada created by SFU Library.

Meiji Japan 
Papers of Edward Sylvester Morse documenting life in 19th century Japan before it was transformed by Western modernization.

People's Daily
Online access to the People's Daily, China's most authoritative newspaper. Coverage spans May 1946 to present.

South Asia Open Archives (SAOA) 

Key historical and contemporary sources in arts, humanities and social sciences, from and about South Asia, in English and other languages of the region. SAOA's collection currently contains hundreds of thousands of pages of books, journals, newspapers, census data, magazines, and documents, with particular focus on social & economic history, literature, women & gender, and caste & social structure.

Latin America

Digital Library of the Caribbean - dLOC 
A cooperative digital library for resources from and about the Caribbean. dLOC provides access to digitized versions of Caribbean cultural, historical and research materials held in archives, libraries, and private collections.

Latin American Network Information Center 
LANIC's mission is to facilitate access to Internet-based information from and about Latin America. The LANIC website features links to many primary sources including the LANIC Etext CollectionHumanities in Latin America, and other resources organized by region and subject. 

Latin American Pamphlet Digital Collection (Harvard University) 
A collection from Harvard University Library of over 5000 digitized scarce and unique Latin American pamphlets published during the 19th and the early 20th centuries, primarily from Chile, Cuba, Bolivia, and Mexico. 

Latin America Primary Sources Guide (University of Washington)
A research guide to primary and secondary sources for Latin American history from the University of Washington Libraries. The site is organized into regions including Mexico, Central America, South America, and Caribbean.

Middle East

Afghanistan Digital Library 
A digitized collection from NYU Libraries of works published in Afghanistan, from 1871 to 1930.

Ancient Near East and the Mediterranean World (University of Chicago) 
This collection from the University of Chicago Library features materials on the archaeology, art, history, language, law, and religion of Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Nubia, Persia, and other ancient peoples of Anatolia and the Fertile Crescent. 

Arab Image Foundation 
The Arab Image Foundation’s evolving collection contains more than 500,000 photographic objects. The work of over 250 amateur photographers and 700 professional photographers and studios, the objects date from the 1860s to the present day, and span 50 countries.

Arabic Papyrus, Parchment, and Paper 
A digitized collection of 770 Arabic documents on papyrus as well as 1300 Arabic documents on paper from the J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Caro Minasian Collection of Persian and Arabic Manuscripts 
This collection consists of works related to the studies of theologians and scholars in centres of learning in Iran from the 16th through the 19th centuries. The manuscripts, which include both bound collections and single works, chiefly date from the 14th to the 17th centuries, and shed light on the social, religious, and political history of Iran and Shī'īsm.

Confidential Print: Middle East, 1839-1969 
Produced by the British Government, this collection of papers from the Foreign and Colonial Offices covers a broad sweep of history from c.1839-1969, taking in the countries of the Arabian peninsula, the Levant, Iraq, Turkey and many of the former Ottoman lands in Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, Egypt and Sudan.

Digital Library of the Middle East 
This collection offers free and open access to the rich cultural legacy of the Middle East and North Africa by bringing together collections from a wide range of cultural heritage institutions.

History of Turkey: Primary Documents (Brigham Young University)
Primary source documents on the history of Turkey from Brigham Young University. This guide is organized by topic and era. 

Internet Islamic History Sourcebook 
An Islamic history portal with links to both primary and secondary sources. 

Islamic Heritage Project (Harvard University) 
This collection includes hundreds of Islamic manuscripts, maps, and published texts from Harvard’s renowned library and museum collections.

Middle East Primary Sources Guide (University of Washington)
A research guide to primary and secondary sources for Middle Eastern history from the University of Washington Libraries. The site is organized into regions including Ancient Middle East, Israel & Palestine, and Iran & Iraq. 

The Middle East 1916-2001: A Documentary Record 
A collection of digitized historical documents from the Middle East, provided by The Avalon Project. Managed by Yale Law Library, the Avalon Project contains digitized historical documents relevant to the fields of Law, History, Economics, Politics, Diplomacy and Government, dating back to Ancient times. 

Shahnama Project (University of Cambridge) 
From the University of Cambridge library, a vast collection of digitized manuscripts and images from of the Shahnama, the Persian epic 'Book of Kings', completed by the poet Firdausi in AD 1010.