Primary sources provide researchers with a unique window into the times in which they were produced. Though the information is often times biased in nature, these sources allow researchers to examine and analyze motives and compare/contrast ideas.
The world wide web has lead to an information explosion that includes digitized primary source collections at most state and university libraries, as well as many research foundations. You can search for primary source topics by using a standard search engine, such as Google. Develop a search string that specifies what you are attempting to locate. For example:
"Ida Tarbell" and "primary sources"
"Booker T. Washington" correspondence
Some common types of primary sources:
Historians and other scholars document their sources. You can use these bibliographies and footnotes to identify primary source titles and key concepts to use when searching the web.
Primary Source Collections
America In Class
Collections of historical documents, literary texts, and works of art — thematically organized with notes and discussion questions. (National Humanities Center)
Access to a large collection of primary source documents related to law, history, and diplomacy. (Yale Law School)
Online history portal providing access by era, topic, and resource type.
Access to the U.S. National Archives and it's more than 10 billion records.
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
This collection curated by a non-profit educational organization is acessible by teachers and students who register for online access. It's FREE!
The Heritage Foundation
A collection of key primary sources. Scroll down for the section on Progressivism and Liberalism.
Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930 (Harvard University)
Site includes a broad collection of primary sources on immigration to the United States, including documents from the Progressive Era. (Harvard University)
Influenza Encyclopedia A collection of primary source documents, images, and narratives that detail the impact of the American influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 on 50 cities in the United States. (University of Michigan)
The Miller Center
An index of Library of Congress American Memory Collections related to the Progressive Era.
World War I Document Archive – Brigham Young University – Provides links to World War I primary documents, such as treaties and personal recollections.
Find reading archaic texts difficult? A Guide to Critical Reading offers tips on how to tackle the tough stuff.
Agents of Social Change
Includes the document collections of eight 20th century women activists and organizations. The resources "highlight women's part in the multiple struggles for social change." (Smith College, MA)
Eugene V. Debs Internet Archive
A collection of various Debs documents contributed by a variety of institutions and organizations.
The Evolutions of the Conservation Movement
"Documents the movement to conserve and protect America's natural heritage." Includes books, pamphlets, government documents, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and motion picture footage (Library of Congress).
FarmworkerMovement Documentation Project
Primary source accounts by the UFW volunteers who built the movement.
(UC San Diego Library)
The Haymarket Affair Digital Collection
This digital collection presents images of key documents and artifacts in their historical context with a minimum of interpretive information. Much like the witness testimony and exhibits introduced during the Haymarket trial, these primary sources are pieces of evidence which enable the user to reconstruct and interpret the historical events to which they relate. (Chicago Historical Society)
Immigration Commission Report and Report on Women and Child Wage Earners Two "ground-breaking reports" issued in the United States covering Progressive Era public policy on immigration and women/children's labor.
Inside A Factory: Westinghouse Works, 1904
Contains 21 films showing various views of Westinghouse companies. Though intended to showcase company operations, the films highlight working conditions at the time. (Library of Congress)
National Child Labor Committee Collection
Documentation of child working and living conditions completed by Lewis Hine between 1908 and 1924. These photos "are useful for the study of labor, reform movements, children, working class families, education, public health, urban and rural housing conditions, industrial and agricultural sites, and other aspects of urban and rural life in America in the early twentieth century." (Library of Congress)
Political Culture and Imagery of American Women Suffrage
This online exhibit "examines the development of a distinct female political culture and imagery that evolved to promote voting rights for women." (Museum of Women's History)
Remember the 1911 Triangle Factory Fire
This site includes original sources on the fire held at the ILR School's Kheel Center, an archive of historical material on labor and industrial relations. (Cornell University)
Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film Features 104 films that record events in Roosevelt’s life from the Spanish-American War to his death in 1919. (Library of Congress)
Votes for Women
Selections from the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection including books, pamphlets and other artifacts documenting the suffrage campaign. (American Memory Collection)
Working Women, 1800 - 1930 (Harvard University Library) An "exploration of women's impact on the economic life of the United States between 1800 and the Great Depression" that includes over 7,500 primary source documents.
Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin
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