Primary sources for the humanities: Social history

If you need help, please contact Baharak Yousefi, Librarian for History, International Studies, Graduate Liberal Studies, Political Science at or or Ask a librarian.

2SLGBTQ+ history

Archives of Sexuality and Gender
Monographs, manuscripts, correspondence, and ephemera from 1600 to 1940, as well as texts, photographs, and illustrations on health, politics, age, race/ ethnicity, and social and economic issues in relation to LGBTQ rights and women's rights since 1940.

BC Gay and Lesbian Archives (City of Vancouver Archives) 
The collection consists of textual records (primarily textual ephemera), periodicals, photographs, posters, and audiovisual materials pertaining to LGBTQ2+ communities in Vancouver and British Columbia

Digital Transgender Archive 
The Digital Transgender Archive (DTA) aims to increase the accessibility of transgender history by providing an online hub for digitized historical materials, born-digital materials, and information on archival holdings throughout the world. Browse materials by topic, genre, or by location using an interactive map. 

Out in Canada: The Road to Gay Rights (CBC Digital Archives) 
This collection contains archived digital material of original radio and television broadcast programming. Material relates primarily to the increased visibility of the LGBTQ+ community in Canada and their fight for equal rights in the 1960s to 1980s. 

Transgender Archives (University of Victoria) 
The Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria is committed to the preservation of the history of pioneering activists, community leaders, and researchers who have contributed to the betterment of trans, non-binary, Two-Spirit, and other gender-diverse people. The largest trans archives in the world, this collection includes documents, rare publications, and memorabilia, with materials in 15 languages from 23 countries on six continents. 

QMUNITY's Stories of Older Queers 
Video interviews chronicling the experiences of older lesbian-gay-bisexual-transfolk conducted as part of a project called "Stories of Older Queers: Videography and Archives of Queer Elder Experiences."

Black history 

African American History Guide (University of Washington) 
A research guide to primary and secondary sources for African American history from the University of Washington Libraries. This page is organized by era and by topic. 

African Nova Scotians in the Age of Slavery and Abolition (Nova Scotia Archives) 
A virtual exhibit of primary source materials celebrating the lives of early African Nova Scotians, focusing on the period between 1749 and 1834 during the founding of the province and abolishing of slavery in the British Colonies. The collection also includes a virtual photo exhibit of images depicting several African Nova Scotian settlements and descendants of early African Nova Scotians, dated from 1880 to 1955. 

Africville: Expropriating Black Nova Scotians (CBC Digital Archives) 
This collection contains archived digital material of original radio and television broadcast programming related to the history of the black community Africville in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the relocation of residents and destruction of the community in the 1960s. 

Black History in Canada (Library and Archives Canada) 
Research guide for primary source materials and archival holdings on Black history in Canada from Library and Archives Canada. Also includes links to other published research and digital collections on Black history from other institutions and heritage organizations. 

Black Thought & Culture 
More than 100,000 pages of monographs, speeches, essays, articles, and interviews written by leaders within the black community in America, dating up to 1975.

Independent Voices - Black American Series 
From the Independent Voices collection, The Black American series is a set of digitized newspapers, journals, and magazines originally published by alternative presses during the 1960s, '70s and '80s that provides scholars unprecedented access to the writings and thoughts of those who led and participated in the Black Power, Black Arts Movement, Black Nationalism, Separatism, and Black Feminism movements. 

North American Slave Narratives 
A collection of books and articles that documents the story of African Americans struggling for freedom and human rights in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. This collection includes all the existing autobiographical narratives of fugitive and former slaves published as broadsides, pamphlets, or books in English up to 1920.

Who Speaks for the Negro? 
A collection of Civil Rights Movement interviews conducted by author Robert Penn Warren.

Immigration & diaspora history

Bachelors and China Dolls, Sex and Race in Postwar Toronto's Chinatown, 1920-1970 
This collection consists of materials concerning sex and race in Toronto between 1920 and 1970. It includes photographs from a private collection and newspaper articles about Chinese Canadians and white women (Chinadolls) in Toronto's Chinatown, published in the Toronto Chinese press. It will also include interviews with individuals concerning everyday life in Toronto's Chinatown and the experiences of mixed-race couples and children living there.

BC Multicultural Photograph Collection 
A collection of 1,500 photographs depicting the contributions of immigrants and First Nations people to British Columbia, dating from the late 1890s to 1962. It features significant events and activities, such as the development of Vancouver's Chinatown; the Chinese Canadian contribution to railroad construction in B.C.; South Asian Canadians and the Komagata Maru incident; the fishing industry and Japanese Canadians; the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II; and the art, lifestyles, and working and living conditions of Indigenous peoples.

The Chung Collection (University of British Columbia) 
The Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection contains more than 25,000 rare and unique items (documents, books, maps, posters, paintings, photographs, silver, glass, ceramic ware and other artifacts), grouped by various themes, including Early British Columbia History, Immigration and Settlement, and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.

Doukhobor Collection of Simon Fraser University 
A collection of digitized images, print materials, and ephemera relating to the settlement of the Doukhobors in Canada, primarily in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Indo-Canadian Oral History Collection 

A selection of interviews conducted with early Indian immigrants to Canada, almost all of them British Columbians, in 53 audio files. The interviews cover reasons for and regulation of their immigration to Canada; work and living experiences once in Canada; labour, legal and political issues that affected the immigrants; relations with other racial and ethnic groups; family life and adjustment to Canadian society; and ongoing links to their country of origin. Almost all interviews are in Punjabi, with a few in English and Hindi.

Japanese Canadian Oral History Collection 
Interviews with Japanese Canadians on topics ranging from early immigration; their participation in pre-World War II industries including fishing, farming, and the lumber industries; and their internment during World War II. The majority of audio files are in English, but some are in Japanese.

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

North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories
Personal narratives of immigrants who came to North America between 1800 and 1950.

South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) 
A collection of primary historical materials that document the history of South Asian diaspora in the United States.

Indigenous history

Note: Consult the Respectful research guide for information on research involving Indigenous oral histories and ways of knowing, including writing and citing Indigenous Knowledge.

American Indian Newspapers
Print journalism from Indigenous peoples of the US and Canada from a range of communities. Includes periodicals produced in the United States and British Columbia, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada and Oklahoma, from 1828 to 2016.

A digitized collection of Heiltsuk memories, language, and oral traditions related to the Húy̓at cultural landscape.

Independent Voices - Native American Series 
From the Independent Voices collection, the Native American series is a set of digitized newspapers, journals, and magazines published by Native American presses, with publications like NARP Newsletter, Many Smokes, and Native Movement, that championed such key issues as Native American rights, religious freedom, equal education, and preserving community, language and tribal sovereignty.

Indigenous Peoples: North America
Monographs, manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals and photographs about Indigenous populations in North America. Topics include the political, social, and cultural history of Native Peoples from the 16th century into the 20th century. 

Our Homes are Bleeding Digital Collection 
This digital collection of primary source materials has grown out of the stories of cut-off lands in British Columbia. These stories are a part of the history of the reserve system in Canada, aboriginal title and rights and First Nations resistance to colonial assertion of land title. The collection includes historical records, including maps, documents, newspaper articles, photographs, audio and video clips, showing the continual assertion of aboriginal title and rights. 

Our Legacy 
Digital collection of material relating to First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples found in Saskatchewan cultural and heritage collections. For primary sources, browse by Resource Type 'Archival' or 'Artifact.' 

Our Voices - Omushkego Oral History Project 
In Aboriginal culture, teachings are passed from generation to generation in a rich tradition of storytelling. Join the University of Winnipeg's Centre for Rupert's Land Studies as they welcome Louis Bird, Aboriginal scholar and storyteller, who shares - in Cree and in English - a sampling of the stories of the Omushkegowak or "Swampy Cree" people of the Hudson and James Bay Lowlands of northern Manitoba and Ontario.

North American Indian Thought and Culture
100,000+ pages of full text and images dating from 17th century to present day. Life stories of Native Americans and Canadian First Peoples in their own words and through the words of others.

Labour history

BC Labour Heritage Centre 
The BC Labour Heritage Centre Society preserves, documents, and presents the rich history of working people in British Columbia. The Society engages in partnerships and projects that help define and express the role that work and workers have played in the evolution of social policy and its impact on the present and future shaping of the province. The online collection includes articles, archival materials, and videos about historical events. The collection also includes the BC Labour Heritage Centre Oral History Collection, a series of full-length interviews with notable activists in British Columbia’s labour movement. 

Canadian Farmworkers Union Project 
Selected publications, documents, and other material from the Canadian Farmworkers Union (CFU) archival collection.

Fisherman Publishing Society Photographs 
Photographs from the society documenting shore workers and other labourers working in the fishing industry, canneries, commercial fishing (activities, equipment, and processes), union and alliance meetings and demonstrations, protests, and other aspects of the fishing industry in British Columbia. In particular, the activities of the United Fisherman and Allied Workers' Union (UFAWU) from the late 1960s to the late 1990s are heavily represented.

Labour & Unions (CBC Digital Archives) 
This collection contains archived digital material of original radio and television broadcast programming. Material relates to the history of unions and the labour rights movement in Canada, including stories on historically significant workers strikes and protests.  

Pacific Tribune Photograph Collection 
4,500 selected images from the photograph collection of the weekly Vancouver labour newspaper Pacific Tribune. The images cover a twenty-year span, from 1972 to 1992, which was one of the most active periods in British Columbia's labour history. Also included are images from other social movements, including rallies and campaigns for human rights and the internationally recognized Vancouver walks for peace during the mid-1980s.

Women's history

Defining Gender 1450-1910: Five Centuries of Advice Literature Online 
A searchable digital collection covering advice literature to women from 1450 to 1910. Includes ephemeral material such as ballads, cartoons and pamphlets along with diaries, advice literature, medical journals, conduct books and periodicals.

Discovering American Women's History Online 
Photos, letters, diaries, artifacts, and other primary sources that document the history of women in the United States. 

Italian Canadian Women Oral History Collection 
Interviews collected in the 1970s and 1980s documenting the experiences of Italian women who immigrated to Canada throughout the first three quarters of the twentieth century. Approximately 100 hours of interviews, with 60% in English and 40% in Italian. See the Italian Canadian Women Photograph Collection for a selection of archival images from the period.

Independent Voices - Feminist Series 
From the Independent Voices collection, the Feminist series is a set of digitized magazines, newsletters, and newspapers created by activists and collectives that helped propel the second wave of feminism from the late sixties and early seventies through the end of the 20th century. 

North American Women's Letters and Diaries
Full-text of letters and diaries written by North American women from the Colonial era to 1950, representing all age groups and life stages, a wide range of ethnicities, and many geographical regions.

Rise Up! Digital Archive of Feminist Activism 
A digital archive of original publications, documents, flyers, posters, and many other materials representing feminist activism in Canada from the 1970s to 1990s.

Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 
Books, images, documents, scholarly essays, commentaries, and bibliographies that document the different facets of women’s activism in public life. 

Women, War and Society, 1914-1918 
Documents and interpretive essays on women's involvement in World War I, primarily in Britain.