Skip to main content
LibApps staff login

Databases for Primary Sources

There are many libraries and archives that have holdings from Latin American countries. Many of these provide online access to primary sources.

Primary Sources

Primary Sources

Primary Sources:
The definition of primary sources depends on the academic discipline and the context in which it is used. In the humanities, "Primary resources provide firsthand evidence of historical events. They are generally unpublished materials such as:
  • manuscripts,
  • photographs,
  • maps,
  • artifacts,
  • audio and video recordings,
  • oral histories,
  • postcards,
  • and posters.

In some instances, published materials can also be viewed as primary materials for the period in which they were written."

Credit: UCLA Institute on Primary Sources

Historians use primary sources as evidence. Additional examples of primary sources are diaries, personal journals, government records, court records, property records, military reports, and military rosters.

Secondary Sources:
In contrast, a secondary source is the typical history book which may discuss or analyze a person's life or work, an event or another historical topic. Secondary sources are accounts or interpretations of events by a person who doesn't have firsthand knowledge of the event. A good secondary source uses primary sources as evidence.

Links to Online Primary Sources

Selected websites for finding primary research materials from Latin America:


There are many libraries and archives that have holdings from Latin American countries. Many of these provide online access to primary sources.


Unrestricted websites:


Edward E. Ayer Digital Collections: Selected manuscripts and photographs from the Edward E. Ayer Collections related to the history of indigenous peoples throughout the Americas. Held at the Newberry Library in Chicago, Il.


Digital Collections of the Ibero-American Institute:  “
The Ibero-American Institute (IAI) is an interdisciplinary institution of scientific and cultural exchange with Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal. It houses a knowledge archive with the largest European specialized library for the ibero-American cultural area.”


Hathi Trust: A collation of libraries have joined together to digitize public domain materials. Sign in with your school in order to download materials.


Internet Archive: Mission statement “…to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge. We collect published works and make them available in digital formats. We are building a public library that can serve anyone in the world with access to the Internet.”


LARRP: “The Latin Americanist Research Resources Project (LARRP) is a consortium of research libraries that seeks to increase free and open access to information in support of learning and scholarship in Latin American Studies.”


Nettie Lee Benson Library (University of Texas at Austin) Digital Collections: “The Benson Latin American Collection and LLILAS host or have been partners in a broad array of digital projects and initiatives.”


Latin American Library Digital Collections at Tulane University, New Orleans: he Latin American Library reflects the university's long-term commitment to Latin American studies. The library was established in 1924 to support the Middle American Research Institute[0]=mods_extension_tudl_submittingInstitution_s%3A%22Latin%20American%20Library%22


Getty Research Institute:

“The Getty Research Institute is dedicated to furthering knowledge and advancing understanding of the visual arts. Its Research Library with special collections of rare materials and digital resources serves an international community of scholars and the interested public.”


Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.

“The Bancroft Library's Latin Americana Collection grew out of Hubert Howe Bancroft's publishing enterprises related to the "Pacific States," covering the region from Panama to Alaska. Building on Hubert Howe Bancroft’s original 19th-century holdings of important Mexican collections, the Bancroft Collection of Latin American manuscripts, imprints, newspapers, broadsides and pamphlets is one of the world's great repositories for historical and contemporary research on Mexico and Central America. As a specialized area collection, it contains all forms of primary and secondary sources, including printed material, microfilm bibliographical and reference sources, and critical editions of major historical texts.”



Miami University Cuban Heritage Collection: “The Cuban Heritage Collection collects, preserves, and provides access to primary and secondary sources of enduring historical, research, and artifactual value which relate to Cuba and the Cuban diaspora from colonial times to the present.  The Collection supports the teaching, learning, and research needs of the University of Miami and the broader scholarly community.”


John Carter Brown  (rovidence rhode island: “The purpose of the John Carter Brown Library is to preserve and collect books and other recorded information on the discovery and settlement of the Western hemisphere. As part of its mission, it has always sought to reconcile the divergent, and often discordant, aim of preserving its collection, while at the same time promoting access to it. One way to preserve our collection and make it available to scholars is to digitize it. By digitizing books and making them available online, more people in more places can use the books while at the same time the actual book is preserved from handling.”


Conde de Montemar Letters 1761-1799



Archive at the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia in Mexico

Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen: MISSION: “Contribute to the educational and cultural development of the country through the conservation and distribution of El Salvador’s national heritage, and to create spaces of reflection on societal problems.”


Websites available through ASU Library Databases:

Latino Literature

ASU Repository/ Ruben Darío Papers: “The Rubén Darío Papers contain approximately 900 handwritten pages of poetry, essays, short stories, diplomatic memos, and personal letters created by Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío (1867-1916). These manuscripts document Darío's life and work as a journalist, diplomat, and poet between 1882 and 1915.”


American Indian Histories and Cultures: “Explore manuscripts, artwork and rare printed books dating from the earliest contact with European settlers right up to photographs and newspapers from the mid-twentieth century. Browse through a wide range of rare and original documents from treaties, speeches and diaries, to historic maps and travel journals.”


Scientific Electronic Library Online

This website functions as a bibliographic database, digital library, and cooperative electronic publishing model of open access journals. The purpose of the portal was to provide a place that Portuguese and Spanish writers could publish and distribute their scientific works since the language barrier so often keeps Latin American scientists out of the European and American publications.

The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-three 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.