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What is a Primary Source?
A primary source is a source that was created around the time of the event being studied. It can be any format: a newspaper, an interview, a book, a TV show, a map, a diary, etc. Primary sources provide unique perspectives when doing research. If you are unsure of whether or not a source is a primary source, please ask the librarian.
Newspapers & Magazines
Historical Newspapers gives you access to the archives of many newspapers.
California Digital Newspaper Collection
The California Digital Newspaper Collection contains significant historical California newspapers from 1846-present, including the first California newspaper, The Californian, and the first daily California newspaper, The Daily Alta California.
Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1789-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present.
This database cross-searches four 19th-Century newspapers and links articles that were published on the same date, making this a one-stop shop for historical news article searches.
The Times Digital Archive
This database can be cross-searched in NewsVault; on its own, it allows readers to search over 200 years’ worth of the London-based publication.
19th Century U.S. Newspapers
This database aggregates primary sources from America throughout the 19th Century, making it a useful tool for students looking at topics from America’s first century of independence.
Liberty Magazine Historical Archive: 1924-1950
Liberty flourished when illustrated magazines were the most important form of mass entertainment. This digital collection provides a unique opportunity to view Liberty and how it charted the moods, attitudes, lifestyles, fads, and fortunes of middle class America through its three most significant decades.
Smithsonian Collections Online
This database has made searchable the Smithsonian’s publication archive.
Annals of American History
Includes speeches, essays, biographies, landmark court decisions, editorials, and more that bring history to life. This series is also available in the library at 973/ANN
World History in Context and US History In Context
These databases have primary sources, chronologies, biographies, books, and articles. One-stop shopping for historical research!
American Decades Primary Sources
Includes oral histories, songs, speeches, advertisements, TV, play and movie scripts, letters, laws , legal decisions, newspaper articles, cartoons, recipes and more. This series is also available in the library at 973.9/AME
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization that has developed a website that features the more than 60,000 unique historical documents including essays and primary source documents.
The University of California's gateway to more than 200,000 digitized items reveal the diverse history and culture of California and its role in national and world history.
American Memory site of the Library of Congress
American Memory provides text and images of the original pages for many documents, photographs and prints, films, sound recordings, and other resources.
The Internet Archive is a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Search texts, movies, photos, audio and websites.
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers : The Human Rights Years, 1945-1948, 2007
This series is also available in the library at 973.917/ROO
Crime and Punishment : Essential Primary Sources
Companion to print Encyclopedia in the library at 364/CRI
Gender Issues and Sexuality : Essential Primary Sources
Companion to print Encyclopedia in the library 306.76/GEN
Social Policy : Essential Primary Sources
Companion to print Encyclopedia in the library 320.609/SOC
7 Billion Others
This collection of over 6,000 short testimonies from 64 countries is searchable by country or topic.
Regional Oral History Office
This youtube channel offers select videos from the UC Berkeley Regional Oral History Office interviews spanning many subject areas. Their full collection of transcripts can be found on their website.
Telling Their Stories
Read, watch, and listen to Urban student interviews of elder who witnessed key historic events of the 20th century.
The Internet is full of primary source materials. The problem is that it can be difficult to know where to start. Begin by asking yourself what kind of information you would like: a speech, an article, a photograph, a painting, a TV show, a map or a piece of music? This can help you determine where to fnd the primary source.
If the sites listed above didn't lead you to excellent primary source material, ask the librarian for help!