Archive for Online Primary Sources

American Newspapers Report the Armistice

Come here to see dozens of front pages of American newspapers recording this momentous event. Many papers announced the armistice on November 12; here is a section from the Chronicling America site detailing a fuller description of the  newspaper coverage (some of it premature) of the armistice.


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Photos/Newsreels of World War I

As newer technologies are introduced, so too does the expansive documentation of history continue. Photography was by no means a recent invention in the early twentieth century, but its extensive use allows us a century later to view the resulting devastation of The Great War. There are numerous pictorial assemblages available for viewing. Among the most interesting are those from the Library of Congress’ Panoramic Photographs Collection containing many scenes from French battlefields as well as stateside military camps, including Camp Merritt located in Bergen County, N.J. (A memorial now marks this camp.)

Moving pictures were in their infancy during World War 1, but enough films were preserved and digitized to allow them to act as witnesses as well. This film – Scenes in the Meuse-Argonne Section, September 26 to November 11, 1918 – is one of a series that the U.S. National Archives has produced. In addition, the National Archives also acts as the repository for numerous newsreels from commercial vendors; take a look at the hundreds of newsreels from Fox-Movietone. And don’t forget the treasure trove from British Pathe – WWI- The Definitive Collection, and the European Film Gateway provides portals into little-known collections of great import.

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Just in Time for Halloween – “The World Bewitch’d”

This online exhibition from Cornell University examines the belief in witches that spread throughout Europe culminating in the killings of thousands of putative witches during the 16th and 17th centuries. Drawing on the largest collection of witchcraft works extant – Cornell University Library Witchcraft Collection – (of which 104 English-language works are online), pages from selected works are presented highlighting both the reception of witches and measures taken to suppress them.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: INF Treaty

President Trump has announced that the United States is going to withdraw from the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty or INF. This agreement eliminated all missiles that had a range of between 300 miles and 3,000 miles, effectively stripping the European Theater of Operations from the threat of missile attack, whether of a conventional or nuclear nature.

There have been some reports that Russia was not abiding by the letter of the law; see Russian Compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: Background and Issues for Congress from CRS for an overview. Also, this proposed legislation – S.430 – Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty Preservation Act of 2017.

Although of recent historical vintage, there are indeed valuable primary sources of information for those wishing to visit this topic.

Firstly,  read the treaty in its entirety along with its informative narrative.

Secondly, examine the hundreds of documents that have been selected to explain the diplomatic process. These are found in the valuable Foreign Relations of the United States series, especially Soviet Union, October 1986-January 1989, Volume VI , and read the preface to this volume that points to additional relevant volumes in this ongoing documentary project.

Thirdly, consult the National Security Archive for its “briefing book” – The INF Treaty and the Washington Summit: 20 Years Later that contains additional sources, including some from the Soviet side. This wonderful site also has numerous entries on the predecessor negotiations as well.

Fourthly, drop by the Wilson Center’s digital collections that were culled from disparate entities that have an impact on the present topic.

Fifthly, visit Georgetown University’s digital video collection containing then-contemporary interviews of some of the major players/analysts of the time from both the academic and governmental perspectives.

Sixthly, peruse statements, addresses, interviews of President Ronald Reagan (who was a key participant in this treaty) housed at the American Presidency Project.

And lastly (because I can’t bear the thought of writing “seventhly”), watch the various Congressional hearings on the INF courtesy of C-SPAN.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: Supreme Court Nomination Hearings

This Senate Committee on the Judiciary page has complete transcripts of all the hearings back to 1971 with the notable exception of Robert Bork, who, while nominated, was rejected by the committee; his hearings are here. And while official transcripts are not yet available for the Brett Kavanaugh hearings (that could take a couple of years), here are videos of the proceedings.

Numerous blog entries with multitudinous links can be perused for additional information.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: The Nomination Hearings of Clarence Thomas

With the heated controversy over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, it might do well to refresh our collective memories and re-visit an eerily similar process – the hearings on Clarence Thomas; videos of the hearings are also available. Here is an overview of this contentious hearing.

For those unfamiliar with the Supreme Court nomination process, many CRS reports provide ample elucidation.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: “Jersey City News”

There is an immediacy to newspapers, a “lived” feeling not present in dusty tomes or learned articles. It is a more personal odyssey, articles sometimes written under deadlines or emotional distress.

If you think current politics in Jersey City are a sign of the times, please think again. The pages of the Jersey City News are replete with shenanigans dating back to the late 19th century. This almost complete run, from 1889-1906, provides a unique view of newsworthy events through Jersey eyes. The Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, the Irish question,  the assassination of President McKinley, politics involving freeholders, the complaints about the sewer systems, all these topics and more are covered in these pages. Another local primary source well worth perusing.

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