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History - U.S. Research Guide

Primary Sources

Find primary sources for U.S. History in the following collections. Check the Primary Sources Research Guide for more information on searching for sources in archives, in the library catalog, and on the Internet. 

Digitized Archival Collections

Collections organized by collecting institution

Collections organized by era

Collections organized around slavery and abolition

Collections organized around social identities & social histories

Collections organized by geographic region

Collections organized around political histories and political activism

Government Documents

Historical Newspapers

These databases have collections of newspapers published generally pre-1990, often digitized from print or microfilm. They are searchable, but be aware that the results won't be as accurate as born-digital newspapers.

Historical Periodicals

Historical Printed Materials

Tip: What are primary sources?

A primary source is essentially any record or artifact from a given era that provides original documentary evidence of the time—like a snapshot of a given experience, taken by someone who was there. Secondary sources, such as books or articles, often draw heavily from primary sources, such as letters, diaries, or interviews, to make representations or interpretations of a period under study.

A few examples of primary sources include diaries, photographs, letters, government documents, and newspaper and magazine articles (from the period under study).

Want to learn more? Visit the Primary Sources Research Guide.