How do I find primary sources on the Internet?

Hundreds of libraries, museums, and historical societies have placed their digitized archives and collections online. Using Google or another search engine, search for your topic (e.g. ancient rome, Jamestown, Victoria England)  and variations for the concept "primary sources."  You may need to try "primary sources" or "primary documents" or "historical documents." 

The following is a select list of web sites that offer primary sources. Note:  All the web sites were created by educational, governmental, or non-profit organizations.  None are commerical sites.

American Memory from the Library of Congress
The gateway to the vast digitized holdings of the Library of Congress. Included are  written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music.

Avalon Project at Yale Law School 
Documents in the law, history, and diplomacy, covering ancient times to the 21st century.

Free public gateway to University of California's digitized primary resources, along with more than 100 cultural heritage organizations.  Includes the ...

Digital Scriptorium Projects
Various digital collections from Duke University Libraries including ancient papyri, history of advertising in American from 1850-1920, historical American sheet music, and more.

Internet Modern History Sourcebook
Collections of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts.  Other Sourcebooks include Ancient and Medieval, along with specialized topics such as Women's, Islamic, East Asian, etc.

Making of America  (University of Michigan and Cornell University)
Digitized books and periodicals from the 19th century that focus on American social history. 

The NYPL Digital Gallery
New York Public Library's digital collection of illuminated manuscripts, maps, vintage posters, photographs, and more.

Perseus Digital Library
Digital library of primary sources, with emphasis on ancient Greek and Roman texts.


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Last modified: 8/22/2012 11:55 AM by M. Potter

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