You are here

Primary sources for the humanities: USA

If you need help, please contact Baharak Yousefi, Librarian for History, International Studies, Liberal Studies, & Political Science at 778.782.5033 or or Ask a librarian.

General resources

African American History
A research guide to primary and secondary sources for African American history from the University of Washington Libraries.
AMDOCS - Documents for the Study of American History
A collection of American primary historical documents.
American History
A research guide to primary and secondary sources for American History from the University of Washington Libraries.
American Memory provides free and open access to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience.
Original manuscripts, maps, ephemeral material and rare printed sources on the American and Canadian West.
The Avalon Project
An excellent resource managed by Yale Law Library. Contains digitized historical documents relevant to the fields of Law, History, Economics, Politics, Diplomacy and Government.
Primary documents. Over 400 digital collections about the history of women in the United States.
Prints, drawings, paintings, maps, bibliographies, letters, and photographs documenting the relationships among peoples in North America from 1534-1850.

Eight Centuries
Index to 19th Century periodicals, books, newspapers and government documents.
Making of America - Cornell University Library
The Cornell University Library Making of America Collection is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction.
Making of America - University of Michigan Library
The University of Michigan Library Making of America Collection is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction.
Images from 61,000 works of literature on economics and business published from 1450 through 1850.
Native American History
A research guide to primary and secondary sources for Native American history from the University of Washington Libraries.
100,000+ pages of full text and images dating from 17th century to present day, providing biographies of Native North Americans.
A research guide to primary and secondary sources for Pacific Northwest history from the University of Washington Libraries.
South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA)
A collection of primary historical materials that document the history of South Asian diaspora in the United States.
Books, images, documents, scholarly essays, commentaries, and bibliographies that document the different facets of women’s activism in public life.

Book & pamphlet collections

American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection
Digital access to the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) collection of American periodicals published between 1691 and 1852.

More than 100,000 pages of monographs, speeches, essays articles, and interviews written by leaders within the black community from earliest times to 1975.
Fulltext collection of documents from Evans' American Bibliography.  A definitive source of information about all aspects of life in 17th- and 18th-century America, from agriculture and auctions through foreign affairs, diplomacy, literature, music, religion, the Revolutionary War, slavery, temperance, witchcraft and many other topics.
A searchable library of more than 350,000 works of English and American poetry, drama and prose, 328 full-text literature journals, and other key criticism and reference resources.
Nineteenth Century in Print
A collections of digitized books and periodicals published in the United States, primarily during the second half of the nineteenth century. This resource includes over 1,500 books and 23 popular magazines.
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.
Victorian Popular Culture: Music Hall, Theatre and Popular Entertainment
An essential resource for the study of popular entertainment in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

News sources

19th Century U.S. Newspaper Digital Archive
Provides access to approximately 1.7 million pages of primary source newspaper content from the 19th century, featuring full-text content and images from numerous newspapers from a range of urban and rural regions throughout the U.S. The collection encompasses the entire 19th century, with an emphasis on such topics as the American Civil War, African-American culture and history, Western migration and Antebellum-era life among other subjects.

American Indian Newspapers

Print journalism from Indigenous peoples of the US and Canada, from 1828 to 2016.

The more than 1,000 periodicals in these three former microfilm collections provide the materials necessary to study trends in the United States from 1741-1900.
Chronicling America - Historic American Newspapers
A searchable collection of America's historic newspapers from 1836 - 1922.
Complete archive of the The Economist from 1843 with a 4 year embargo on current content.
Cross search Gale newspaper archives, covering over 400 years of content, using a single interface.
Full coverage of the New York Times from 1851 to 4 years ago.
Historical Newspapers
Full page and article images of historical newspapers including:
  • The New York Times (1851 to 4 years ago)
  • The Wall Street Journal (1889 to 18 years ago)
  • The Washington Post (1877 to 7 years ago)

Oral histories, diaries, letters, narratives, etc.

American Journeys
A collection containing more than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration.

Discovering American Women's History Online
A collection of primary sources (photos, letters, diaries, artifacts, etc.) that document the history of women in the United States.

Full-text of over 100,000 pages of personal narratives by immigrants to North America, between 1840 and the present.
Full-text of letters and diaries written by North American women from Colonial times to 1950.
Who Speaks for the Negro?
A collection of Civil Rights Movement interviews conducted by author Robert Penn Warren.

Government information

The Digital National Security Archive contains a comprehensive set of declassified government documents central to U.S. foreign and military policy since 1945.
FedFlix - The Internet Archive
FedFlix is a collection of films and training videos produced by the United States Government, including videos from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), the United States Department of Defense, and the National Archives and Records Administration.
NARA - National Archives and Records Administration
United States government agency that preserves and documents US government and historical records.


NYPL Digital Gallery
NYPL Digital Gallery provides 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.

U.S. National Archives' Photostream
A collection of photographs that cover a wide range of subjects and themes documented in the work of the United States government.

Music and film sources

One thousand film scripts are indexed and organized to allow searching by scene, by character, by director, and more.

DRAM (Database of Recorded American Music) provides CD quality audio, complete liner notes and essays from New World Records, Composers Recordings, Inc. (CRI) and other important labels, such as Albany, innova, Cedille, XI, Pogus, Deep Listening and Mutable Music. DRAM offers the educational community on-demand, high-quality streaming access to complete works.

Naxos Music Library [NML] is the world's largest online classical music library. NML offers the catalogs of more than 50 classical, jazz and world music labels, including independent classical labels, world music, jazz, film music, nostalgia, classic and contemporary rock content.