Judith A. Downie
Humanities Librarian
CSUSM Library

This listing provides links to some of the best internet portals and collections of primary documents. Note that a collection may contain materials for more than one subject area and may offer secondary material as well as primary.


United States

19th Century American Literary, Historical and Cultural Studies
A portal to a variety of links on documents and images online in U.S. History.

100 Milestone Documents
As compiled by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

American Memory
The Library of Congress has a growing collection of digitized primary documents MOSTLY on American history.  You can search the collection by time period, place and broad topic. Library of Congress subject headings as used in the CSUSM catalog will also work in this database.

Chronicling America from the Library of Congress and National Endowment for the Humanities
This partnership has the admirable goal of digitizing newspapers from all 50 states for 1836-1922. At this point in its development, only selected states (CA, DC, FL, KY, NY, UT and VA) are available for 1900-1910. Publication and topical information is available for papers published since 1690-present in a separate section.

A Chronology of US Historical Documents
Contains hundreds of primary sources about us history from the pre-colonial period to the present day.

Civil War Resources on the Internet:  Abolitionism to Reconstruction   (1830's - 1890's)
Provides maps, letters, first person accounts, and other primary sources about the Civil War.

COLLAGE: Collections Online: A Digital of American Immigration and Ethnic History
From the Immigration History Research Center at University of Minnesota, a large searchable collection of digitized images on a variety of topics.

Core Documents of U.S. Democracy
From the US Government Printing Office.

Digitized Primary American History Sources

Early America includes primary source materials from eighteenth century America.

The Eastman Project: Images of California Life provides photographic records of Northern California development in a number of areas of interest.

Images of American Political History
A collection of copyright-free maps and images from colonial to current events.

Jewish-American History on the Web
Provides a mix of primary and secondary documents, evaluate carefully.

Presidential Libraries
The National Archives and Records Administration offers inks to the libraries for US Presidents beginning with Truman. The amount of material varies as each library is an independent operation.

Temperance and Prohibition
Secondary and primary sources about the temperance and prohibition movement in American during the nineteenth century.

United States Census Bureau Selected Historical Diennial Census: Population and Housing Counts provides selected data from 1790-1860, 1990, and 2000 in PDF format as well as links to Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000 (the census survey documents) and Historical Statistics of the U.S. (abstracted information from Colonial times to 1970 censuses.)

United States Historical Census Browser provides census data from 1790 to 1960 that are searchable by several variables. Note this site does not provide detail below the county level (no city or block tracts.)

United States National Archives presents digitized primary source documents and images from different periods of history that are in the National Archives collections.

University of Oklahoma's Chronology of US Historical Documents provides transcribed text for documents beginning with the Magna Carta through the 21st Century. Be aware that transcriptions may have spelling altered to modern usage for readability.

University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections offers a wide variety of photographs and texts with an emphasis on the Pacific Northwest, but also explores travel, literature, Native Americans and much more.

Valley of the Shadow provides primary source documents, images, sounds, and historical discussions about two communities that were on opposite sides of the Mason-Dixon Line during the Civil War.

Works of the Presidents (Part of the Digitized American History Sources)
Links to a variety of sites holding digitized documents, speeches and related materials. Not every President is represented.

Individual State's Digital Portals
A work in process, some sites are more useful than others to history researchers and offer a varying degree of primary sources. 



British History Online offers a limited search engine, but also provides categories to help the user navigate to the desired material. This site offers secondary as well as full text primary sources. Free user registration allows a bookshelf to save selected items for quick retrieval.

EuroDocs: Primary Historical Documents From Western Europe--an extensive primary source database that focuses on key historical happenings in Western Europe from medieval times to the present. Searchable by country.

G-Text primary source Archives contains several German primary history sources from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that have been translated into English.

Hanover Historical Texts Project provides a vast array of primary sources divided by categories such as Europe, specific centuries, and continents. 

National Archives (Britain) offers a wide range of digitized documents from the Domesday Book (ca 1085 AD) to current day. A variety of materials is available through the Exhibitions link.

Normandy Exhibit contains primary sources in the form of maps, images, first person accounts, battle plans, and documents about the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France.

Perseus Project includes a massive digital library of Greek artifacts, archaeological sites, buildings, coins, sculptures, vases, and other primary sources.

Primary Sources Documents on the Holocaust includes documents related to the Holocaust such as the Wannsee protocol, eyewitness accounts, speeches, and much more.

Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674-1837 full text accounts of London's central criminal court trials, providing a rich view of the "lives of the non-elite people" of that time.

Rome Resources Project  primary sources pertaining to Roman civilization.

Treasures Digitization Project includes a wide variety of digitized collections and exhibitions such as the Magna Carta and Beowulf from the British Library.

U-Boat War filled with photographs, personal accounts, and biographical information about the submariners who commanded U-boats during World War II, this site also documents war crimes committed by both the Allied and Axis powers.

View of the Famine articles about the Irish famines in the 1800s from the Illustrated London News, Punch, and Pictorial Times.


Latin & South America

Early Americas Digital Archive (slow to load)
A collection of digitized texts dating from approximately 1492 to 1820. Use the 'Gateway' link to browse by author or the Archive link to search by either author or title.

LANIC: History
Although originally developed for Latin America, this site offers a great deal on South American nations and their history. Much of the material is in Spanish or Portuguese.

Latin American History
Hosted at the University of Washington, this is a mixed collection of links to primary and secondary sources.

Repositories of Primary Sources: Latin America and the Caribbean

List of national archives and museums divided by a broadly-defined list of Latin American and Caribbean nations. Many sites are in Spanish, others are in English or offer an English-language version. Some links do not lead to full-text sources, but may offer research services.

Sources and General Resources on Latin America
A mixed selection of links, of special interest will be the section on "Primary Source Materials (Writings & Speeches) by Individuals". More material is found under individual nation.

Africa & Middle East

Internet History Sourcebooks from Fordham University offer links to a variety of sites containing primary and secondary material. Of particular use are the African and Islamic collections.

The Middle East 1916-2001: A Documentary Record
Part of the Avalon Project at Yale University, this site offers access to legal and governmental digitized documents.

The Middle East Documents includes a smorgasbord of primary source documents relating to the history of the Middle East and especially to the creation of the state of Israel.


Asia & The Pacific Rim

Asian History
From the University of Washington, a mixed collection of primary and secondary sources.

CEAS: Asian Documents Index
Links to a variety of documents, letters, and speeches from mostly 20th Century sources.

Internet History Sourcebooks from Fordham University offer links to a variety of sites containing primary and secondary materials on Ancient, Medieval, and Modern history as well as collections on East Asian and Indian history

National Archives of Australia
This site offers digitized photographs and some online exhibitions and documents on Australian history.

World History

Avalon Project
From Yale Law School provides primary source legal, historical and governmental documents from all over the world. Time range covered is the 17th century to present day.

CARRIE: A Full-Text Electronic Library features full text electronic library of primary source documents with special emphasis on European and American history and WWI.

Duke University Special Collections Library presents digitized collections from Duke University’s manuscript and Rare Book Dept. about subjects such as papyrus, African  American studies, and women’s studies.

Electronic Documents in History
A collection of links gathered by Tennessee Technological University. Is really not as organized as some others and hasn’t been updated since April 2000, but does have some good links to explore.

Electronic Texts and Primary Sources
Part of the “digital librarian” website. It provides numerous links to all kinds of digitized primary sources. Some are of questionable value.  This site does not have a search capability only browse. Also through this site is the Archives & Manuscripts collection of links.

Exploring Ancient World Cultures accessible by country, this site includes the primary religious, military, literary, and historical texts that characterized each ancient culture’s heritage.

Frontline: the Gulf War filled with maps, oral histories, chronologies, transcripts, and graphics , this site is an primary source database for information about 1991 war with Iraq.

Historical Text Archive contains a banquet of primary sources that are accessible by continent, resources, and topics.

History, Archaeology, and Classics a gateway to secondary and primary sources ranging from the ancient world to the present day.

Internet History Sourcebooks from Fordham University offer links to a variety of sites containing primary and secondary materials on:

The Labyrinth:  Resources for Medieval Studies
Provides full-text versions of medieval documents and literature.

Library and Archival Exhibitions on the Web (Smithsonian)
An extensive searchable collection of digitized collections and archives from around the world.

Perseus Digital Library Project 
At Tufts University offers an extensive collection of ancient history sources.

Rare Book Manuscript and Special Collections 
At Duke University includes digitized collections ranging from advertising to sheet music to women's liberation.

Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image 
At the University of Pennsylvania, offering books and manuscripts on Shakespeare, the US Civil War, Jewish music, the history of chemistry and more from the 9th through 20th centuries.

Studies in Scarlet (Marriage and Sexuality in the US and UK, 1815-1914)
Digitized documents from the collection of Harvard of trial narratives of both the famous and not-so-famous in trials concerning marriage and related domestic matters.

UNESCO Archives Portal: Primary Sources Online
Archivists and other digital collection builders are encouraged to publish links to their sites through this wide-ranging portal. Material can be primary or secondary. Note the international sites are likely to use British spelling (labour instead of labor), so try alternate searches or click through the levels.

UNESCO/IFLA Directory of Digitized Collections
Assembled by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, this is a "Memory of the World" project to provide access to an international range of digitized collections of text, sound, and image.

Voice of the Shuttle
From the University of California Santa Barbara, this is just the history section of a much larger site. World History Archives is a well-organized site that lists large primary source databases within selected historical periods and topics.

African-American History

The African-American Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture

Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture
Part of the New York Public Library, this site offers some digitized collections and exhibitions.

Native American History

Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties
From Oklahoma State University covers treaties, laws and executive orders from 1778-1970 as compiled by Charles J. Kappler.

Native American Documents Projectt includes three sets of data: Published Reports of the Commissioner of Indian, Affairs and the Board of Indian Commissioners for 1871, Allotment Data collection, and Rogue River War and Siletz Reservation collection.

Women's History

A comprehensive site presents materials about the study of women and gender in the ancient world.

Internet History Sourcebooks from Fordham University offer links to a variety of sites containing primary and secondary materials on Ancient, Medieval, and Modern history, but also provides a collection on Women's history.

Note: Many thanks to CSUSM librarians Gabriela Sonntag and Hua Yi for their contributions to this list.