Primary Source Sites on the Internet
Archives & Primary Sources - General
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.
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.
Freedom Narratives: Freedom Narratives focuses on the enforced migration of enslaved Africans in the Atlantic world during the era of the slave trade from the 16th to the 19th century. The biographical accounts included here include the testimonies and stories of individuals born in West Africa whose voices have long been silenced. This digital repository of autobiographical testimonies and biographical data establishes where people came from, why they were enslaved, whether or not they freed themselves, and what happened to them.
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.
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.
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.
This HeinOnline collection brings together a multitude of essential legal materials on slavery in the United States and the English-speaking world. This includes every statute passed by every colony and state on slavery, every federal statute dealing with slavery, and all reported state and federal cases on slavery. Our cases go into the 20th century, because long after slavery was ended, there were still court cases based on issues emanating from slavery. HeinOnline has gathered every English-language legal commentary on slavery published before 1920, and has provided more than a thousand pamphlets and books on slavery from the 19th century.
Slave Voyages The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database comprises nearly 35,000 individual slaving expeditions between 1514 and 1866. Records of the voyages have been found in archives and libraries throughout the Atlantic world. They provide information about vessels, enslaved peoples, slave traders and owners, and trading routes. A variable (Source) cites the records for each voyage in the database. Other variables enable users to search for information about a particular voyage or group of voyages. The website provides full interactive capability to analyze the data and report results in the form of statistical tables, graphs, maps, or on a timeline.
African American History (Historical Text Archive) A variety of sources are listed here, including: texts of important books and documents; biographical sketches of historical figures; bibliographies; mailing lists; bulletin boards; and many links to other internet sources.
African American History - About.com - Primary Text Index Writings and documents by and about African-Americans
African American Migration Experience In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience presents a new interpretation of African-American history, one that focuses on the self-motivated activities of peoples of African descent to remake themselves and their worlds. Their hopeful journeys changed not only their world and the fabric of the African Diaspora but also the Western Hemisphere.
African-American Women: Online Archival Collections A select collection of primary source materials from the Special Collections Department at Duke University.
Africans in America This is an excellent site for resources and primary source materials. It is divided into four segments: The Terrible Transformation, 1450 - 1750; Revolution, 1750 - 1805; Brotherly Love, 1791 - 1831; and Judgment Day, 1831 - 1865
American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology From 1936 to 1938, over 2,300 former slaves from across the American South were interviewed by writers and journalists under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration. These former slaves, most born in the last years of the slave regime or during the Civil War, provided first-hand accounts of their experiences on plantations, in cities, and on small farms. This web site provides an opportunity to read a sample of these narratives, and to see some of the photographs taken at the time of the interviews. The entire collection of narratives can be found in George P. Rawick, ed., The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1972-79).
Anti-Slavery Literature Project The goal of the Antislavery Literature Project is to increase public access to a body of literature crucial to understanding African American experience, US and hemispheric histories of slavery, and early human rights philosophies. These multilingual collections contribute to an educational consciousness of the role of many antislavery writers in creating contemporary concepts of freedom.
The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record: The 1,280 images in this collection have been selected from a wide range of sources, most of them dating from the period of slavery. This collection is envisioned as a tool and a resource that can be used by teachers, researchers, students, and the general public - in brief, anyone interested in the experiences of Africans who were enslaved and transported to the Americas and the lives of their descendants in the slave societies of the New World.
Visualizing Emancipation Visualizing Emancipation is an ongoing mapping project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, that sheds light on when and where men and women became free in the Civil War South. It tells the complex story of emancipation by mapping documentary evidence of black men and women's activities--using official military correspondence, newspapers, and wartime letters and diaries--alongside the movements of Union regiments and the shifting legal boundaries of slavery.
From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1824-1909 Presents 397 pamphlets from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, published from 1824 through 1909, by African-American authors and others who wrote about slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and related topics. The materials range from personal accounts and public orations to organizational reports and legislative speeches. Among the authors represented are Frederick Douglass, Kelly Miller, Charles Sumner, Mary Church Terrell, and Booker T. Washington.
Voices from the Days of Slavery Taken from the Library of Congress' American Memory website, the almost seven hours of recorded interviews took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states. Twenty-three interviewees, born between 1823 and the early 1860s, discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom
African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Created from the holdings of the Library Company of Philadelphia, African History and Culture, 1540-1921, is a comprehensive collection of fully cataloged and searchable books, pamphlets, almanacs, broadsides and ephemera covering the history, peoples, and social and economic development of the African continent from the 16th century to the early 20th century. All areas of Africa and important adjacent regions are covered.
ArchiveFinder Archive Finder includes ArchivesUSA and NIDS UK/Ireland. It is a current directory of repositories and collections of primary source material housed across the United States and United Kingdom. Archive Finder draws from three major information sources: the Directory of Archives and Manuscript Repositories in the United States (DAMRUS), the National Union Catalogue of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC), and the National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United States (NIDS), along with the National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United Kingdom and Ireland (NIDS UK & Ireland). The archival material noted in this collection ranges from pre-historic to modern.
Black Drama The Black Drama Collection contains around 1000 plays by more than 170 playwrights, together with detailed, fielded information on related productions, theaters, production companies, and more. The database also includes selected playbills, production photographs and other ephemera related to the plays. Coverage: 1850-Present. Part 1: North America, 1800-1950; Part 2: North America,1960-1990; Part 3: African and Caribbean Drama, 20th Century
Black Studies Center (1827+) Black Studies Center combines several invaluable resources for research and teaching in Black Studies: Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, International Index of Black Periodicals (IIBP), and The Chicago Defender, ProQuest Dissertations for Black Studies (1970-2004), and Black Literature Index (1827-1940). Resources are fully cross-searchable and include scholarly essays, recent periodicals, historical newspaper articles, and supporting materials.
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.
Empire Online This database brings together approximately 70,000 images of original manuscripts and printed documents on colonial history, politics, culture and society from libraries and archives around the world. Topics range from early European exploration to 21st century imperialism. It is divided into five sections covering varying aspects of the colonial experience: Section I: Cultural Contacts, 1492-1969; Section II: Literature and Empire; Section III: The Visible Empire; Section IV: Religion and Empire; Section V: Race, Class, Imperialism and Colonialism, c.1607-2007
Lexis-Nexis Congressional (1789+) U.S. legislative information: hearings; committee reports; bills, bill tracking; Congressional Indexes; Congressional Record; Federal Register; Code of Federal Regulations; U.S. Code; Public laws; National Journal, Congress Daily, & member info.
Periodical Archive Online (1770-1995) PCI Web is an electronic index to the contents of thousands of periodicals in the humanities and social sciences from their first issues to 1995. Every article is indexed.
ProQuest Historical Newspapers: 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
Provides full text coverage of the above newspapers for their respectives years. Taken as a whole, these newspapers provide excellent historical coverage geographically and nationally.
Women and Social Movements in the United States: 1600 - 2000 This database contains: 52 document projects that interpret and present documents, altogether these document projects provide more than 1,250 documents, 450 images, and 500 links to other websites. 19,000 pages of documents pertaining to Women and Social Movements. These materials have been selected by the Editors for their relevance to the focus of the website.