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Primary Sources for American History

This guide offers resources for finding primary source material in the area of American history.

Internet Resources

1619 Project

It's been 400 years since the first ship of enslaved Africans arrived here, and the entire NYT magazine on Sunday, August 18, 2019 is devoted to the history and impact of chattel slavery on America, and how it has affected nearly anything you can think of.
The project is the brainchild of journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, and features CSI English Professor and Pulitzer Prize wining poet, Tyehimba Jess. Prof. Jess participated in launch of the project. The livestream can be viewed here:


AMDOCS: Documents for the Study of American History

A digital collection of primary source documents related to U.S. history from 1400 to present.


American Memory 
Digital collection of historical materials from the Library Congress. Includes a variety of manuscripts, pamphlets, images, audio and video recordings, maps, and sheet music that document U.S. history and culture. Users can search across all collections or browse by topic.  Also see their webpage providing links to Primary Source Collections.



Archival Research Catalog (ARC) 
Online catalog of the National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) nationwide holdings in the Washington DC area, Regional Archives, and Presidential Libraries. Includes the Online Public Access resource is the online public portal to ARC records and information about their records.



Core Documents of U.S. Democracy 
Online access to "cornerstone" government documents such as the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence as well as legal and judiciary documents such as Congressional bills, Supreme Court decisions, and Code of Federal Regulations.



Digital Public Library of America [DPLA]


The DPLA brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world.  It strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science.



The Gilder Lehrman Collection 

A unique archive of primary sources in American history owned by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, located at the New-York Historical Society.  Selected online access  to the Collection's 60,000 document related to the political, social, and economic history of the United States, ranging from 1493 through the twentieth century. 



History Matters 
This site serves as a gateway to web resources and offers unique teaching materials, first-person primary documents, and guides to analyzing historical evidence.  See the link to, "Many Pasts," for primary sources, and the link to "www.history," for reviewed and annotated websites in American history, including those with digitized primary source materials and collections.  


Internet Resources continued

Making of America

Digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology.

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections

Catalog of over 500,000 records describing archival and manuscript collections in research libraries, state and federal agencies, museums, and historical societies throughout the world.

New York Public Library Digital Gallery

Access to over 600,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the collections of The New York Public Library, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more.

New York State Digital Collections

Digital collection of primary source materials held by the New York State Archives, State Library, and State Museum. Collections include photographs, textual materials, artifacts, government documents, manuscripts, and other materials.

New York State Historical Literature Collection

Digitized collection of selected monographs, pamphlets and other materials from from the Cornell Library's extensive collection of New York State Literature.

Primary Sources from

Primary source documents pertianing to early American history.  An invaluable collection of historical works which contributed to the formation of American politics, culture, and ideals.