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Primary Sources for American History

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

About Primary Sources

What are primary sources?

According to the American Library Association:

"Primary sources are original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of memoirs and oral histories. Primary sources may include letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, speeches, interviews, memoirs, documents produced by government agencies such as Congress or the Office of the President, photographs, audio recordings, moving pictures or video recordings, research data, and objects or artifacts such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons. These sources serve as the raw material to interpret the past, and when they are used along with previous interpretations by historians, they provide the resources necessary for historical research."

Learn more about primary sources at these helpful links:

Using Primary Sources (Library of Congress)

Types and Formats of Primary Sources? (Yale University)

Guides to Libraries & Archives Worldwide (Princeton University)

Resource Spotlight!

Using Digital Public Library of America Primary Source Sets

Interested in using DPLA and the Primary Source Sets for education, but not sure where to start? Use this guide to learn about the project and strategies for classroom implementation.

Films about History & Documentary Film

Kanopy -- Live Streaming Video

View over hundreds of films and documentaries.  Search by keyword, title, and under the Subject tab