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College Writing: Primary Source Websites/Databases

This guide was created to help you learn the steps to successful academic research.

Primary Source Material

Primary sources allow you to view and analyze photographs, news reports, plays, literature, diaries, letters, legal documents and other material from the time of your event. While secondary sources have already interpreted and analyzed the source, looking at primary documents and objects allows you to think for yourself and form your own opinions.

These databases may have primary sources for your topic


Boston Public Library eCard

Salem Press | Defining Documents

NYPL Collections

The Artemis Collection


National Archives

American History, 1493—1945

Library of Congress

Avalon | Primary Documents