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Primary Sources

This guide will provide access and links to the substantial and ever-growing wealth of primary sources available through ASU Library or freely-accessible through the Internet

Primary Sources on the Internet by Subject, Region or Time Period


Comprehensive Sites ( Including but not limited to North America)

Anarchy Archives  A project of Claremont Colleges to provide the collected works of the major anarchists and an online history of anarchists and anarchist movements worldwide, including a graphics archive.

 Avalon Project at the Yale Law School (3,000 BCE+)  Selected digital documents relevant to the fields of Law, History, Economics, Politics, Diplomacy and Government.

Eurodocs: Primary Historical Documents from Western Europe 
This site (Harold Lee Library, Brigham Young University) has pointers to documents and full text works for Medieval and Renaissance Europe, Europe as a region, and over twenty countries.The time frame is Medieval to the present. The section for Germany includes a broad range of documents, from the 95 theses of Martin Luther to the 1990 treaty on German unification and some contemporary reports on racism.

The Historical Text Archive The oldest and one of the most important meta-history archives.

Internet Modern History Sourcebook Presents a diversity of texts available on the Internet in the area of modern European history and modern Western Civilization. Designed to serve the interests of teachers and students in college survey courses in subjects such as: the Reformation; Ancien Regime; Industrial Revolution; American and French Revolutions; Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment; The World Since 1945.

The World Digital Library (WDL)  The World Digital Library (WDL) makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world. This open source website provides instant access to scholarly resources, and allows visitors to browse through a trove of artifacts spanning the history of civilization. The site brings together historical manuscripts along with secondary literature describing them.

Chronologically: 1900 - 1949

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Digital Archives: A growing body of presidential and personal papers related to the FDR presidency. Included are the President's Secretary File(PSF); British & German Diplomatic files; US-Vatican Diplomatic files, Fireside chats; and the Hackett Papers.

The Holocaust History Project: The Holocaust History Project is a free archive of documents, photographs, recordings, and essays regarding the Holocaust, including direct refutation of Holocaust-denial. Another resource for documents on the Holocaust, Israel & Zionism & Jewish Communities is the Academic Guide to Jewish History.

HyperWar: A Hypertext history of the Second World War "This project is a collection of material related to the (primarily military) history of the Second World War, completely cross-referenced via hypertext links and enhanced, where appropriate, by various multi-media computer technologies."

"Let there be Light" ( John Huston 1946 WWII film): John Huston’s World War II documentary Let There Be Light is so legendary for its censorship controversy that its sheer power as a film has been easy to miss. Produced by the U.S. Army in 1945, it pioneered unscripted interview techniques to take an unprecedented look into the psychological wounds of war.

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.

Nazi Propaganda sites:  The following sites are from reputable repositories or institutions and have primary source materials relating to the propaganda efforts of the National Socialist party and government:  German Propaganda ArchiveThe German Propaganda Archive includes both propaganda itself and material produced by Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic; Nazi Propaganda - U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum;  EuroDocs: Germany: National Socialism and World War II:  This is an aggregator site which includes site links covering Nazi propaganda as well as the rise of National Socialism and World War II( not all the documents are in German)

The Nuremberg Trials Project  The Harvard Law School Library has approximately one million pages of documents relating to the trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) and to the twelve trials of other accused war criminals before the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT).  The documents include trial transcripts, briefs, document books, evidence files, and other papers. 

World War I Document Archive: This archive of primary documents from World War I has been assembled by volunteers of the World War I Military History List (WWI-L). The archive is international in focus and intends to present in one location primary documents concerning the Great War. Also worth looking at is: World War I: Trenches on the Web.

World War II Resources "Primary source materials on the Web" 

Chronologically: 1950 - 1999

Cold War International History Project This site contains transcribed primary sources on the history of the Cold War. Many of the items are from original or compilations from previously inaccessible sources in the former Communist world.

Declassified Documents Reference System - US (1941-1992) (Access through ASU Library)
Includes full text of declassified U.S. government documents. Covers nearly every major foreign and domestic event from the end of World War II through the 1970s: the Cold War, Vietnam, foreign policy shifts, the civil rights movement, etc.

Free Speech Movement Archives. The link takes you directly to a list of pages and primary sources documenting the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley. This is the only way to get an idea of the extent and scope of this site's holdings.

Macmillan Cabinet Papers, 1957 - 1963: Provides historians and political scientists with direct access to documents from the highest level of Government during the Macmillan Administration. Contains 30,000 original documents, as well as five essays on the Macmillan Administration.

National Security Archive  An independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University, the Archive collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The Archive also serves as a repository of government records on a wide range of topics pertaining to the national security, foreign, intelligence, and economic policies of the United States.

Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact - provides documentation about the development of NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War. This site and the Cold War International History Project provide materials documenting the activities of the US' partners and adversaries during the long cold war struggle.

The Sixties: Primary Documents and Personal Narratives, (ASU Libraries Database)  This database documents the key events, trends, and movements in 1960s America—vividly conveying the zeitgeist of the decade and its effects into the middle of the next. Through letters, diaries, memoirs, and oral histories; accounts from official, radical, and alternative organizations; posters, broadsides, pamphlets, advertisements, and rare materials; and Universal newsreel footage of the times, the collection tells the story of the Sixties.

The Vietnam Archive "The Vietnam Archive mission is to collect and preserve the documentary record of the Vietnam War.... The Vietnam Archive currently administers two projects, the Oral History Project and the Virtual Vietnam Archive. More information about both of these project can be found in their respective sections of this website."



Primary Sources - United States History

 Archives & Primary Sources

Ad*Access:  The Ad*Access Project, funded by the Duke Endowment "Library 2000" Fund, presents images and database information for over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955. Ad*Access concentrates on five main subject areas: Radio, Television, Transportation, Beauty and Hygiene, and World War II

AMDOCS Documents for the Study of American History  One of several sites listed here that provides full text of documents from the 15th Century on, arranged in chronological order.

American Journeys  American Journeys contains more than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration, from the sagas of Vikings in Canada in AD1000 to the diaries of mountain men in the Rockies 800 years later.

American Memory: Historical Collections for the National Digital Library.  A rapidly growing collection of documents, photographs, sound recordings, motion pictures and maps. Some of the collections now available are: Pioneering Women; African American Perspectives; California Gold; Civil War Photographs; America in the Great Depression; and many others in the Library of Congress.

American Presidency Project  The American Presidency Project was established in 1999 as a collaboration between John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The archives contain 104,107 documents related to the study of the Presidency., including:

 • The Messages and Papers of the Presidents: Washington - Taft (1789-1913)
• The Public Papers of the Presidents:
Hoover to G.W. Bush (1929-2007)
& Obama (2009)
• The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents:
Carter - G.W. Bush (1977-2009)

• The Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents:
Obama (2009-2012)

Atlantic Canada Portal: Virtual Archives: The Atlantic Canada Portal maintains the Atlantic Canada Virtual Archives (ACVA), a virtual archive of primary source material relating to the Atlantic Provinces. Each collection features digitized documents and images, accompanied by learning activities and commentary, of interest to a wide range of readers.

100 Milestone Documents  The following is a list of 100 milestone documents, compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration, and drawn primarily from its nationwide holdings. The documents chronicle United States history from 1776 to 1965.

Core Documents of U.S. Democracy "To provide American citizens direct online access to the basic Federal Government documents that define our democratic society, a core group of current and historical Government publications is being made available for free, permanent, public access via the GPO Access service" The preceding quote from the Core Documents web page clearly delineates that this is an admirable attempt by the U.S. government to make available those documents and records it considers integral to an understanding of democracy in the United States. A comprehensive and important site.

David Rumsey Map Collection  This premier online map collection hosts over 60,000 historical maps and images.  The collection focuses on rare 16th through 20th Century maps of the world with the primary focus on maps of North and South America.

Digital History This site includes: a U.S. history e-textbook; over 400 annotated documents, primary sources on slavery, Mexican American and Native American history, and U.S. political, social, and legal history; short essays on the history of film, ethnicity, private life, and technology; multimedia exhibitions, an audio archive including speeches and book talks by historians, and a visual archive with hundreds of historical maps and images. The site's Ask the HyperHistorian feature allows users to pose questions to professional historians.

Documenting the American South  A collection of sources on Southern history, literature and culture from the colonial period through the first decades of the 20th century. Provides access to digitized primary materials that offer Southern perspectives on American history and culture.

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1861 - 1993  The Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series presents the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity.

Founders Online  The National Archives  has entered into a cooperative agreement with The University of Virginia Press to make freely available online the historical documents of the Founders of the United States of America.  Through this website, you will be able to read and search through thousands of records from George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison and see firsthand the growth of democracy and the birth of the Republic.

Fraser(Federal Reserve Archive): The Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research (FRASER®) started in 2004 as a data preservation and accessibility project of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. FRASER’s mission is to safeguard and provide easy access to the nation’s economic history—particularly the history of the Federal Reserve System—through digitization of documents related to the U.S. financial system.  A great resource for the economic history of the United States

History Matters: Many Pasts: "Contains almost 1,000 primary documents in text, image, and audio about the experiences of ordinary Americans throughout U.S. history. All of the documents have been screened by professional historians and are accompanied by annotations that address their larger historical significance and context. Arranged by time period, starting with the earliest documents."

Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930: Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930, is a web-based collection of historical materials from Harvard's libraries, archives, and museums that documents voluntary immigration to the United States from the signing of the Constitution to the onset of the Great Depression.   Concentrating heavily on the 19th century, this website includes over 400,000 pages from more than 2,200 books, pamphlets, and serials, over 9,600 pages from manuscript and archival collections, and more than 7,800 photographs.

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.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) The National Archives web site includes descriptions of NARA facilities; copies of publications such as finding aids; and some Federal records regulations. The agency is working to improve access to the contents of the archives and this site should become increasingly valuable.  Here is a direct link to the advanced search page of the  online catalog for the National Archives which now (2016)  describes 95% of their holdings at the series level.
Perry-Casteneda Library Map Collection: Historical Maps of the United States. The categories used by the University of Texas map library are early inhabitants, exploration and settlement, U.S. territorial growth, later historical periods, military history, historical maps of Texas and U.S. cities, and national historic sites. There is a link to other map sites.

David Ramsey Map Collection:  This historical map collection has over 66,000 maps and images online covering essentially the entire world.

The Presidency - Miller Center An excellent site from the Miller Center of the University of Virginia. Includes contextual information on the U.S. Presidency as well as access to Presidential speeches, oral histories and whit house tapes

Resources for the Study of International Relations and Foreign Affairs - Vincent Ferraro site: An excellent comprehensive site covering US international relations and foreign affairs during the Twentieth Century. Click on the Documents internal link to go directly to that section. Document Library  a list of letters, speeches, documents, web sites, books, and articles on signifcant people and events in American political thought and history. Rather than being a comprehensive list of available resources, it is meant to be a list of the best resources available on the given subject.  Covers the Colonial period to the Modern era ( up to selected addresses of George W. Bush.)

US Congressional Documents: A Century of Lawmaking, 1774 - 1875: One of the major collections in the American Memory website, this invaluable (but hard to find) site includes all major congressional documents for the country's first century. The four main categories are: The Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention; Journals of Congress; Debates of Congress; and States and Documents.

The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-two Native Nations that have inhabited this land for centuries. Arizona State University's four campuses are located in the Salt River Valley on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) Indian Communities, whose care and keeping of these lands allows us to be here today. ASU Library acknowledges the sovereignty of these nations and seeks to foster an environment of success and possibility for Native American students and patrons. We are advocates for the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems and research methodologies within contemporary library practice. ASU Library welcomes members of the Akimel O’odham and Pee Posh, and all Native nations to the Library.