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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

Chronological websites

Chronologically: 1600 - 1799

Colonial North American Project:  Includes 150,000 images of diaries, journals, notebooks, and other rare documents from the 17th and 18th centuries.  When complete, the project will make available to the world digitized images of all known archival and manuscript materials in the Harvard Library that relate to 17th and 18th century North America.

Congressional Documents: A Century of Lawmaking, 1774 - 1875: One of the major collections in theAmerican 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 Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 1610 - 1791  This site contains the entire English translation of the The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, originally compiled and edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites and published by The Burrows BrothersCompany, Cleveland, throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century. Each file represents the total English contents of a single published volume.

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 has entered into a cooperative agreement with The University of Virginia Press to make freely available online the historical documents of the Founders of the United States of America.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.

Liberty and the American Revolution The Sid Lapidus '59 Collection on Liberty and the American Revolution features more than 150 recently gifted important books, pamphlets and prints representing the major themes of Lapidus' collecting: the intellectual origins of the American Revolution; the Revolution itself; the early years of the republic; the resulting spread of democratic ideas in the Atlantic world; and the effort to abolish the slave trade in both Great Britain and the United States.

Chronological Websites

Chronologically: 1800 - 1899

The American Civil War Home Page  Links to hundreds of resources, including timelines, overviews, images, letters, accounts and diaries, bibliographies, state studies, specific battles and rosters. A good place to start any search for Civil War information.

American Civil War Resources: Civil War materials from the Digital Library & Archives, Virginia Tech Libraries containing letters and diaries from both Union and Confederate soldiers, homefront letters, memoirs, and contemporary research files.

Civil War Letters Online:  Letters between soldiers and their loved ones form a natural library of first person and eye witness accounts of war. They are an excellent written record with precise dates covering both the macro and micro scale of the conflict. Our simply aim is to database them, free-to-view online."

Congressional Documents: A Century of Lawmaking, 1774 - 1875: One of the major collections in theAmerican 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.

Darwin Correspondence Project  On this site you can read and search the full texts of more than 7,500 of Charles Darwin’s letters, and find information on 7,500 more. Available here are complete transcripts of all known letters Darwin wrote and received up to the year 1869.

More are being added all the time.

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.

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.

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.

Martin Van Buren Papers, 1787 - 1910  The Martin Van Buren Papers contain more than 6,000 items dating from 1787 to circa 1910.  The bulk of the material dates from the 1820s, when Van Buren (1782-1862) was a U.S. senator from New York, through his service as secretary of state and vice president in the Andrew Jackson administrations (1829-1837), to his own presidency (1837-1841).    Included are correspondence, autobiographical materials, notes and other writings, drafts of messages to Congress in 1837 and 1838, and other speeches, legal and estate records, miscellany, and family items.  The collection primarily consists of letters received by Van Buren from other individuals, as well as copies, drafts, transcripts, and photocopies of letters written by him.  

The U.S. Civil War Center (Louisiana State University)  A collection of web links to indexes, letters, diaries, museums, discussion groups, newspapers, university archives, and Web-accessible documents. The 'historic places' portion leads to information on battlefields, cemeteries, forts, and historic sites.

The War of the Rebellion: Both The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (1880 - 1901) and the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion (1894 - 1922) are available full text online at Cornell University'sMaking of America site. These are obviously two of the most significant civil war resources.

Chronological websites

 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."

Imperial War Museums - Collections  IWM’s collections cover all aspects of twentieth and twenty-first century conflict involving Britain, the Commonwealth and other former empire countries. They were intended to record the 'toil and sacrifice' of every individual affected by war.  They contain some of the most important technical, social, economic, political, personal and cultural artefacts relating to Britain and its role in twentieth-century conflict. 

Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Digital Archive  This online Archive is based on interdisciplinary academic research conducted by trained observers reporting from “war relocation centers.” The collection includes nearly 100,000 original manuscript items — among them personal narratives never before made public, due to restrictions on their release designed to protect individual internees who shared their experiences.

"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; and Nazi Propaganda - U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum; and  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)


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  Letters Online:" Letters between soldiers and their loved ones form a natural library of first person and eye witness accounts of war. They are an excellent written record with precise dates covering both the macro and micro scale of the conflict. Our simply aim is to database them, free-to-view online."


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


Chronologically: 1950 - 1999


Civil Rights Documentation Project - A Mississippi site which includes transcripts of oral history interviews, a civil rights timeline, and bibliography.


Cold War International History Project(Wilson Center Digital Archives) 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 withdirect 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."

 

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Ed Oetting
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