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Siperstein Library: Primary Sources

Welcome Message

Welcome to our primary sources resource page.  Here you will learn how to differentiate between primary and secondary sources, see where you can access primary sources, and even test your primary source vs secondary source skills. 

Ms. Friedlander's Primary Research Tips!

  • Make sure you are well versed in your topic before you begin your primary research! 

  • Sometimes secondary sources can lead you right to a primary source. Example: an article about the Cuban Missile Crisis (secondary) references a presidential speech. Find the text of the speech and you've found a primary source!

  • We usually don't recommend Google for academic research, but sometimes it can be helpful for primary research. Try googling a topic keyword + "papers" or "archive" --you can turn up some great results. For example, you can find primary documents by googling "President Roosevelt" and "papers".

  • How do you know if your primary source is reliable? Stick to items found in archives like The National Archive or the Library of Congress, or a university library.  Museums often have digital collections that can be really helpful.


Museums and Archives are great places to look for primary resources!

Excellent Primary Source Databases

Library of Congress Digital Collections

The Library of Congress Digital Collections has a series of digital primary sources on a variety of topics. 

No username or password needed to use the site.

World Digital Library

World Digital Library comes from the Library of Congress and includes a variety of cultural heritage materials.

No username or password is needed to use the site. 

Accessible Archives

Accessible Archives includes a variety of newspapers from the 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s. 

Username: spp 

Password: 2016!


The Avalon Project

The Avalon Project comes to you from Yale Law School and includes a collection of legal, historical, and diplomatic documents form ancient times to the 21st century. 

No username or password is needed to use the site. 

Times Machine

The New York Times Times Machine allows you to look at past paper editions of the NYT.

To access, please click and follow the instructions.


Statista includes a large collection of data and reports on a variety of topics. 

No username and password required

Old Maps Online

Old Maps Online

Old Maps Online is an interactive repository of maps from a wide variety of time periods and locations. No password needed!

Internet History Sourcebooks

No login or password Needed

Internet History Sourcebooks is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts for educational use. Primary sources are available here primarily for use in high-school and university/college courses.-from Internet History Source Book Page. 

Project Gutenberg

Access to free ebooks that are no longer under copyright. 

Selecting and using primary sources

Umbra Search brings together hundreds of thousands digitized of African American materials from over 1,000 libraries and archives across the country.

What are primary sources and how do I use them?

These history databases are also great places to look for primary sources!

Infobase: American History

American History Database provides you with access to overview articles, primary sources, maps, videos, and timelines on a variety of subjects relating to American history from the colonial period to now. 

Infobase: African American History

African American History Database provides you with access to overview articles, primary sources, maps, videos, and timelines on subjects and issues relating to African American history from Africa, colonization, and the slave trade to now. 

Gale in Context: World History

Gale in Context provides you with access to scholarly articles, primary sources, news articles, videos, podcasts and more on a wide variety of subjects relating to World History from ancient to contemporary times. 

Internet History Sourcebooks

Internet History Sourcebooks through Fordham University provides you with access to articles and primary sources relating to ancient, medieval, and modern history. 


ABC-CLIO provides you with a series of political, historical, and diverse cultural databases which are organized by time period and give you access to overview articles, reference articles, primary sources, and media. 

Asia for Educatiors

Asia for Educators is a resource from Columbia University that provides you with access to a variety of primary sources, timelines, maps, and videos on a variety of topics relating to Asia in world history. 


Can you accurately select between primary and secondary sources?