Archive for Online Primary Sources

Explaining Primary Sources

The ability to recognize a primary source and exploit it correctly form the basis for the second draft of Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy from the Association of College and Research Libraries and the Society of American Archivists. This text is aimed at all knowledge workers, whether they are teachers, librarians or archivists; a worthwhile annotated bibliography adds to the usefulness of this document.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: Japanese Internment Camp Newspapers

Japanese-American Internment Camp Newspapers, 1942 to 1946 contains thousands of pages of locally printed newspapers from a variety of internment camps. For example, you can read about the establishment of schools from the June 2, 1942 issue of the Manzanar Free Press or the recruiting efforts for combat volunteers found in various publications. There are multiple ways of searching this unique collection, and it reminds us of what prejudice and fear can do to a country and its peoples.

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Today in History: The United States Enters World War 1

We have extensive entries on this conflict. We would be remiss if we did not include the following sources from the Foreign Relations of the United States series. Between 1928 and 1940, the State Department issued volumes of primary documents totaling thousands of pages; they are supplements for 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, and 1918 as well as the Lansing Papers, volume 1 and volume 2. (Robert Lansing was Secretary of State during this time.) A full listing of all relevant volumes from the FRUS is online.


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Online Primary Sources: Renaissance and Reformation

These are limited to English-language sources only:

The adventurous Simplicissimus : being the description of the life of a vagabond named Melchior Sternfels von Fechshaim (published in 1669, it was one of the most widely read novels in Germany during the 17th century. It deals with the Thirty Years’ War)

Catholic Encyclopedia (not a primary source but it does provide context; beware its age and bias; still usable, however)

Christian Classics Ethereal Library (hundreds of authors, thousands of works)

Gleanings of a few scattered ears during the period of the Reformation in England [microform] : and of the times immediately succeeding : A.D. 1533 to A.D. 1588

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Reformation Europe

Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Renaissance

A Literary Source-Book of the Renaissance

Luther’s correspondence and other contemporary letters

Memoirs of the life and writings of John Calvin; compiled from the narrative of Theodore Beza, and other authentic documents

Online Primary Sources: German History (coverage starts in 1500)

Online Primary Sources: Modern French History, 1500-1871

The Protestant Reformation (primary sources listed by author)

Readings in European history; a collection of extracts from the sources (especially vol. 2)

Renaissance Sites and Elizabethan Resources (Primary/secondary sources)

Testimony of the Reformers…. (English Reformation)

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Translations and reprints from the original sources of European history. Volumes 1-4; volumes 5-6


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Online Primary Sources: German History

German History in Documents and Images contains hundreds of translated German texts and excerpts along with images, maps, and essays written by distinguished scholars. The time period covered is from 1500 until 2010 or thereabouts. A great repository of important writings for those not versed in German.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: Colonial Charters and Grants

While all these fundamental documents are found online, this site aggregates them all into a single file, making it easy to trace the development of government in individual colonies as well as comparing the various legal principles employed.

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Constitutional Amendments

 “I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.”   -Benjamin Franklin,  in Madison, Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787 

The Article V Convention for Proposing Constitutional Amendments: Historical Perspectives for Congress (CRS)

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875 (US Library of Congress)

Chronicling America (millions of newspaper articles; special features on the 16th, 18th, 19th amendments)

Congressional Record (links to predecessor publications here as well)

Constitution Annotated (CRS)

Constitutional Amendment Process (The National Archives)

Constitutional Amendments – United States (HathiTrust)

Founders’ Constitution (University of Chicago)

United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee on the Constitution

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