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History 122 - American History Since 1865-Draper: Primary sources

A guide to online and print library resources for students in History 122

Primary Sources

Primary Sources are immediate, first-hand accounts of a topic, from people who had a direct connection with it. Primary sources can include:

Texts of laws and other original documents.

Newspaper reports, by reporters who witnessed an event or who quote people who did.

Speeches, diaries, letters and interviews - what the people involved said or wrote.

Original research.

Datasets, survey data, such as census or economic statistics.

Photographs, video, or audio that capture an event.

Selected Websites for Primary Documents

Search tips for Primary Documents

Examples of Subject Headings to search for books 

Emigration and immigration
Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)
Cold War
Depressions -- 1929 -- United States
Agricultural laborers -- United States --History
California --Emigration and immigration
Alien labor, Asian -- United States
World War, 1914-1918 -- Sources

Search terms for finding Primary Documents

description and travel          
early works to 1800
oral history
photographs OR pictorial works

Databases for Primary Sources

Newspapers as Primary sources

Newspaper articles can provide a useful source of information, serving as a primary source of information about historical and current events. Some of the benefits of using newspaper articles as primary sources include:

  • Seeing how people viewed an event when it happened;
  • Providing multiple points of view about an issue, including a comparison of the United States and international views;
  • Permitting researchers to trace the historical development of subjects over time;
  • Examining issues in the context of their time (by seeing how stories about an issue relate to other stories, or by examining the type of coverage provided);
  • Giving a snapshot of a time period detailing how people lived, and what they purchased which is helpful for writers, playwrights, historians, etc.

But remember, because newspapers also contain commentaries or retrospective articles about events, they can also serve as a secondary source, depending on the article. 

Books with Primary Sources

Library Catalog

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