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United States History: Primary Sources

Last Updated: Jul 12, 2018 1:18 PM

What is a primary source?

In the study of history, primary sources are documents, photographs, recordings, and artifacts created by contemporary historical actors or witnesses to historical events. Primary sources necessarily form the foundation of historical research. In the resources below you can find rich and multidimensional collections of primary sources from every era and reflecting every facet of United States history.


Guides to Research With Images

Researchers seeking images for use in historical inquiry will find these guides especially useful:

Images: A Guide to Finding Resources -- Cornell University Library) 

Finding and Using Images -- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Finding and Using Images -- Brown University Library

Finding Images -- Boston College

Natural Bridge in Virginia, early photo. Library of Congress collection (source).

Detailed pictorial map of Yellowstone National Park, 1904. David Rumsey Map Collection (source).

Primary Sources: Focus on U.S. History

Primary Sources: Focus on America and Europe

Audio & Video


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Michael Kicey
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