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Digital Resources

for U-High Students & Faculty

Primary Sources: Social Science & History


Library of Congress' American Memory project includes 65 collections containing photographs

Life magazine photo archive hosted by Google with Browsing Capability

New York Public Library's NYPL Digital Gallery has access to over 600,000 images


Avalon Project from Yale University - click on century of interest

Chicago Historical Society -- for primary sources on local events -- Look at other state or local historical societies for more information

Digital History from the University of Houston: Scroll down to find the time period for your project or on the LEFT click on primary sources (especially Landmark documents); see  additional modules on American history

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History -- Investigate by era OR search the collection 

History Matters from George Mason University has links to primary documents and photographs related to US history.

Internet Modern History Sourcebook from Fordham University -- choose a time period relevant to your topic

Library of Congress: search American Memory by Timeline or by Topic and other Library of Congress' recommended links to Primary Source Collections; plus links to Historical Newspapers

National Archives and Records Administration for links to 100 milestone documents in American history.

 National History Day (sponsored by University of Maryland and others) list of online primary sources

Presidential Speeches (last updated 2007)- by sliding the bar, go to the time period of interest; this tag cloud shows by word size and brightness intensity key issues of the day.

State Historical Societies may also have images and suggested links

United States Historical Documents - a Chronology from University of Oklahoma


Social Explorer- visually explore demographic data; current and correct data (along with additional data) and that allows mapping of search results

National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) provides population, housing, agricultural, and economic data, along with GIS-compatible boundary files, for geographic units in the United States from 1790 to the present

Primary Sources in the Sciencse and the Arts and Humanities

primary source is an original document containing firsthand information about a topic.

Different fields of study may use different types of primary sources.

In the Arts and Humanities, common examples of a primary source are:

  • Autobiographies
  • Diaries
  • Eyewitness Accounts
  • Interview Transcripts
  • Legal Documents
  • Letters
  • Original works of art
  • Photographs of the topic
  • Original Research
  • Video Footage of the topic event
  • Works of literature

In the Sciences, these are common examples of primary sources:

  • Conference Papers
  • Correspondence
  • Dissertations
  • Diaries
  • Interviews
  • Lab Notebooks
  • Notes
  • Patents
  • Proceedings
  • Studies or Surveys
  • Technical Reports
  • Theses

Secondary Sources in the Sciences and Arts and Humanities

secondary source contains commentary on or discussion about a primary source. The most important feature of secondary sources is that they offer an interpretation of information gathered from primary sources

Secondary sources in the Arts and Humanities:

  • Biographies
  • Indexes, Abstracts, Bibliographies (used to locate a secondary source)
  • Journal Articles
  • Literary Criticism
  • Monographs, detailed study, written about the topic
  • Reviews of books, movies, musical recordings,. works of art, etc.
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Textbooks
  • Websites (also considered primary)


Secondary Sources in the Sciences:

  • Criticism and Interpretation
  • Dictionaries
  • Directories
  • Encyclopedias
  • Government Policy
  • Guide to Literature
  • Handbooks
  • Law and Legislation
  • Monographs
  • Moral and Ethical Aspects
  • Political Aspects
  • Public Opinion
  • Reviews
  • Social Policy
  • Tables