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HST 210 (Poly iCourse)

Designed to help the HST 210 students find American history & Culture artifacts for their research project

What Are Primary Sources?

Primary sources are the historical documents used by historians as evidence. Examples of primary sources include diaries, personal journals, government records, court records, property records, newspaper articles, military reports, military rosters, and many other things.

In contrast, a secondary source is the typical history book which may discuss a person, event or other historical topic. A good secondary source uses primary sources as evidence.

The key to determining whether an item may be considered to be a primary source is to ask how soon after the event was the information recorded. This can be a problem with an autobiography, a memoir,  or a reminiscence, to name a few examples.  If the author is working several years with only the memory of what happened, your history professor will disallow most or all of these as primary sources.

Primary Sources on the Web   This guide provides an overview of what primary sources are with examples. Information about finding, using, evaluating and citing them is also included. Site developed by the American Library Association.  

Guidelines for Evaluating Primary Sources

Evaluation Criteria

Use the following criteria to determine the reliability and creditibility of the information found on Websites used in your research.

Who: Who is the author or sponsor of the website? Is that person or organization named? Is any supporting documentation available?

What: What is the mission or purpose of the website? Is it clearly articulated? What kinds of materials are on the website? Are they properly cited and acknowledged? What is the document format on the web?

Where: Where is the site located? Is there a physical address with phone number and email address for a contact person? Does the site have a .edu, .org, or .com address?

Why: Why does the site exist? Does it have a point of view or opinion? Is it pedagogical or polemic? Does it want something from you?

Credit:  American Library Association, Reference and User Services Association, History Section


Additional Evaluation Websites

Evaluation Practice

Complete the following exercises to build your information evaluation skills.

Primary Sources Recommended for most topics used in this class

Online Historical Newspapers & Periodicals - North America

Historic Mexican and Mexican American Press Collection:  The Historic Mexican and Mexican American Press collection documents and showcases historic Mexican and Mexican American publications published in Tucson, El Paso, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sonora, Mexico from the mid-1800s to the 1970s.

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers: Search America's historic newspapers pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present.  States included in this essential and invaluable digital repository are: Alabama; Arizona; California; Colorado; District of Columbia; Florida; Hawaii; Illinois; Kansas; Kentucky; LouisianaMinnesotaMissouri; Montana; NebraskaNew MexicoNew York; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; South CarolinaTennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington(state).    For Further information concerning the history of American Newspapers, use the Library of Congress' US Newspaper Directory, 1690 - Present

Historical African American Newspapers Online:  This LibGuide produced by Elizabeth Clarke of Marist College provides a list of historical African American Newspapers available online as part of digitization projects at libraries and historical societies as well as digitization projects done by Google.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Arizona Republican, 1890 - 1922;  Atlanta Constitution 1868 - 1929; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Chicago Defender 1905 - 1975; ;ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Hartford Courant 1764 - 1984; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Los Angeles Times 1881 - 1985; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times 1851-2003; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post 1877 - 1990

20th & 21st Century US Newspapers

Access World News  Access World News from NewsBank provides full-text information and perspectives from over 600 U.S. and over 500 international sources, each with its own distinctive focus offering diverse viewpoints on local, regional and world issues.

Arizona Republic    Includes full text of articles, editorials, notices, and obituaries from the Arizona Republic. For access to older articles, 1987-1998, see CD-News: Arizona Republic  January 1999 to present

 Chicago Tribune   Chicago Tribune (1985-present) indexes each issue thoroughly, covering not only top news stories but also the information contained on the various sections of the paper. The indexing covers not only complete bibliographic information but also companies, people, products, etc.

Ethnic NewsWatch  (1960+) Full-text of ethnic, minority and native press newspapers, magazines and journals. Provides a broad diversity of perspectives and viewpoints. Represents the diversity of the American population in ways that are not seen in the mainstream media

Nexis Uni  Full text of over 5,000 newspapers( including major US newspaers such as the New York Times), trade publications, legal periodicals, and professional journals.

Los Angeles Times, 1985+  This is the current editions of the LA Times back to 1985 and continues the Historical LA Times

NewsBank NewsFile CDROM : Historical Files 1980 - 1998  Provides full text access to selected articles from over 500 U. S. and Canadian newspapers, wire services, and broadcast news transcripts. NewsBank Newsfile (1996-1998) which includes full text on the CD and NewsBank Reference Services Plus (1980-1996) which provides citations to the microfiche collection of the full text articles.  NOTE: Because of software requirements, this database can only be accessed from ASU Library student/public/staff workstations

Wall Street Journal  (1986+) Full text access to the Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal is the financial newspaper of record. It offers in-depth coverage of national and international finance as well as first rate coverage of hard news.

Retrospective Journals

19th Century UK Periodicals Full text collection of series 1 (New Rederships) and Series 2 (Empire) or UK periodicals from the 19th century, representating the range of nineteenth-century periodical literature of interest to historians and students of nineteenth-century literature and culture, empire, feminism, the history of the book, the creative and performing arts, sport and leisure, science and medicine, the professions, in short, of all aspects of nineteenth-century life that the press encompassed.

Economist Historical Archive, 1843-2012  A searchable collection of every issue of The Economist from 1843 to present (with the exception of the last five years). Each weekly issue contains news reporting and analysis, commentary, editiorials, statistics, demographics, letters to the editor, obituaries, and historical photographs.

Godey's Lady's Book  This is a full text collection  of the premier 19th Century U. S.  woman’s magazine, Parts I-IX 1830-1898.

HarpWeek: The Civil War Era and Reconstruction I-II (1857-1877) (1857-1877) Indexes full-text of Harper's Weekly, probably the only consistent, comprehensive, weekly chronological record of world-wide events of the late 19th century. Covers front-line Civil War reports, the re-election of Lincoln, & Reconstruction.

 Krokodil Digital Archive  A satirical Soviet magazine which began publishing in 1922.Useful for understanding Soviet political science, history and literature

Making of America(Cornell University); Making of America( University of Michigan)
(1800-1925 ) Full text of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. Particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. This is actually two separate sites with separate resources -- one site is sponsored by The University of Michigan and the other by Cornell University. 

The Modernist Journals Project  The MJP is a multi-faceted project that aims to be a major resource for the study of modernism and its rise in the English-speaking world, with periodical literature as its central concern. The historical scope of the project has a chronological range of 1890 to 1922 (though the earliest journals that currently appear on the site date from 1896 and 1904), and a geographical range that extends to wherever English language periodicals were published.

Vogue Archive The Vogue Archive contains the entire run of Vogue magazine (US edition) from 1892 to the present day, reproduced in high-resolution color page images. More than 400,000 pages are included, constituting a treasure trove of the work from the greatest designers, photographers, stylists, and illustrators of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Vogue is a unique record of American and international popular culture that extends beyond fashion. The Vogue Archive is an essential primary source for the study of fashion, gender, and modern social history – past, present, and future

Women's Wear Daily Archive The Women's Wear Daily Archive provides online access to the definitive fashion and retail publication, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD). The entire archive of WWD, previously unavailable in digital form, opens up new opportunities for research. This authoritative record of how the fashion industry developed over the twentieth century provides valuable primary source material for students across the disciplines of fashion, business, and history

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