Our Mission & Policies
CFCC Library Staff
Primary source materials are first-hand accounts of events. Millions of primary source documents have been digitized or transcribed and are accessible via the Internet. The following tips may be of assistance to you in locating such material:
On the internet, go to any SEARCH ENGINE. If you do not already have a favorite, you may choose from the following:
Using one of these search engines, enter terms relevant to your research AND one of the following terms:
primary source ~ historic document ~ digital text ~ text ~ digital archive
digital library ~ digital collection ~ manuscript ~ online archive
oral history ~ translation ~ transcription
EXAMPLE: "Suffrage" AND “Oral History”; or “Civil Rights” AND “ Digital Library”
Keep in mind that all search engines work differently. Try your search on a few different ones. Your results may vary, but the best sites will show up repeatedly.
If you are searching for a specific primary source document, enter the name of the document, or the name of the document + text. Typically the name of the document alone will suffice. If the name is longer than one word, enclose the name within quotations (i.e. “Declaration of Independence”) for more exact results.
Follow the links on the better sites you come across and make your own list of search terms by recording terms and phrases that consistently show up on good sites.
DIGITAL LIBRARIES / ARCHIVES
The following list of selected websites provides access to primary source materials:
American Memory Project -
Through the Library of Congress, featuring more than 7 million items from more than 100 historical collections. A self-proclaimed “gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States.”
California Heritage Collection -
An online archive of over 3,000 documents illustrating the history and culture of California . Includes photo albums, stereoviews, correspondence, etc.
Digitized Collections from Duke University -
A humongous digital collection addressing a multitude of interests including the history of medicine, advertising, photography, sheet music, women’s history, Egyptian Papyri, and more.
Documenting the American South -
Sponsored by the Academic Affairs Library at UNC-Chapel Hill. Digitized materials include slave narratives, first-person narratives, Southern literature, Confederate imprints, materials related to the church in the black ommunity, and North Carolina.
Famous Court Cases -
Primary documents and trial transcripts.
From Revolution to Reconstruction -
Transcriptions of primary sources from 1400 through the present.
Harp Week’s American Political Prints, 1766-1876
Key Documents in American History
Making of America -
A digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. Subject areas include education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology.
National Archives and Records Administration Digital Classroom -
Features reproducible copies of primary documents from the holdings of the National Archives of the United tates. Covers mid-eighteenth century through contemporary US.
Oral history collection relevant to California and western United States history, but featuring many interviews with broader relevance.
University of Virginia Library Exhibits and Online Resources -
A vast collection of primary source materials.
World War II Resources -
Primary source documents regarding all aspects of World War II.
In addition, several committee members of the Reference and User Services- History section of the American Library Association have developed Using Primary Sources on the Web. They define primary sources, offer suggestions for finding primary sources on the web, advice for evaluating these sources, and give examples of how to cite sources found.