Primary sources are original items or records that have survived from the past, such as clothing letters, photographs, and manuscripts…they are part of a direct personal experience of a time or event. Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience (from The Library of Congress).
Primary sources provide a window into the past and unfiltered access to the record of artistic, social, scientific and political thought and achievement during the specific period under study, produced by people who lived during that period. Bringing young people into close contact with these unique, often profoundly personal, documents and objects can give them a very real sense of what it was like to be alive during a long-past era.
- Engage Students
- Develop Critical Thinking Skills
- Construct Knowledge
Where Can I Find Digital Primary Sources?
Library of Congress Primary Sources
American Memory Timeline Nine Time Periods of United States History 1783-1968
America’s Story will “put the story back in history and show you some things that you’ve never heard or seen before.”
Chronicling America – Historic American Newspapers
LOC Guide to Finding Primary Sources Introduction to working with primary sources.
LOC For Teachers Find Library of Congress lesson plans and more that meet Common Core standards, state content standards, and the standards of national organizations.
LOC Classroom Materials
LOC Lesson Plans by Topic, Era, A-Z
LOC Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
Flickr – Illustrated Newspaper Supplements from LOC
National/Domestic Primary Sources
Archiving Early America Newspapers, Maps, Writings
America’s Story Putting the Story Back in History – Engaging Students
CDE Elementary Primary Source Sets
Civil Rights Digital Library
Civil Rights Primary Sources
Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and Primary Source Sets, free & searchable database of online collections from America’s libraries, museums, archives, and cultural heritage institutions.
DocsTeach Online Tool for Teaching with Documents from the National Archives
Doing History – UNC Doing History!
Emerging America Search by Type, Subject, Time Period, and Grade Level.
Google Patents Search and read the full text of patents from around the world, 1790-present
National Archives Constitutional Day
Newseum Media Literacy Education
Our Documents 100 Milestone Documents of the United States
Presidential Primary Source Project Free Interactive Video Conferencing with Your Classroom
Primary Legal materials Law.gov Repository of Primary Legal Materials of United States
Short films of Noteworthy Events in history from Early America
TPS – at Metro State Colorado Teaching with Primary Sources at Metro State and Library of Congress
International Primary Sources
European Digital Repository
Historical Worldwide Newspapers LibGuide
ICON: International Coalition on Newspapers ICON, the International Coalition on Newspapers, can help you find sites that provide access to digitized newspapers (current or historical) from countries around the world.
International Collection – Library of Congress
Research Guides from UW on Asian History – East Asia South Asia Southeast Asia
The Avalon Project 400 BC – 21st Century Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy
World Digital Library
Colorado Primary Sources
CDE Elementary Primary Source Sets
Digital Colorado at Colorado Virtual Library (CVL)
History Colorado Museum Artifact Kits for School Use
History Colorado Online Exhibits and Digital Badges
12 Months of Colorado American Indian History
Plains to Peaks Collective (PPC) is the Colorado-Wyoming Service Hub of the Digital Public Library of America, DPLA. Learn more about the PPC at PPC CVL Sites.
Rocky Mountain PBS Experience Colorado Documentaries historical documentary series dedicated to preserving & celebrating the people, events & places that have shaped Colorado.
UNC – DoingHistory, Keeping the Past
TPS Teaching Online Webinars
TPS Webinar Series
The Teaching with Primary Sources Western Region and the TPS Teachers Network at the Metropolitan State University of Denver are hosting a series of professional development webinars starting Tuesday, March 31, 2020, and going until Thursday, May 14th, 2020.
Each webinar will be from 4:00 – 5:00 pm (Mountain Time) on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. All webinars are recorded and can be viewed at TPS Series. If you do not have a teacher account, you will need to create a free account to access the webinars and resources. Look for the Join the Network button. Once you are logged in, access the webinars at TPS Series or you can search for “Primary Sources and Teaching Online” to find the recorded series.
Webinar Series includes topics such as Primary Sources and – Using Padlet, Screencastify, Adobe Spark, Pear Deck, Google Classroom, and so much more! You can also subscribe to the TPS YouTube Channel to find these recordings!
U.S. Historical Newspapers
Alabama Birmingham Iron Age, 1874-1901 from the Birmingham Public Library
Alaska Newspapers Index from the Alaska State Library
California Digital Newspaper Collection includes the Amador Ledger, 1852-1911; Imperial Valley Press, 1901-1911; Livermore Herald, 1877-1899; Los Angeles Herald, 1873-1921; Sacramento Daily Union, 1851-1899; San Francisco Call, 1890-1913; and many more California newspapers
- Chicago Tribune, 1849-2017 (fee required to view articles)
- Chicago Newspaper Archives, 1835-2010 at GenealogyBank (fee-based)
- Chicago Examiner, 1908-1918 from the Chicago Public Library
- Chicago Sentinel, 1911-1949 – weekly Jewish publication
- Hyde Park Herald Archive, 1882-2008 Hyde Park is a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, home of the University of Chicago and Barack Obama
- Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey a collection of translated newspaper articles originally published in ethnic Chicago newspapers from the 1860s to the 1930s
- Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections
- Hoosier State Chronicles Indiana’s Digital Historic Newspaper Program
- Indiana Newspaper Indexes includes…
- Indianapolis Newspaper Index, 1848-1991 (for the Indianapolis Herald, Indianapolis Journal, Indianapolis News, Indianapolis Sentinel/the Indianapolis Star; coverage varies by newspaper)
- Logansport Newspaper Index, 1848-1855
- New Albany Newspaper Index, 1849-1889
- Vincennes Newspaper Index, 1804-1827
- Indianapolis Recorder, 1899-2005 Indiana-based African-American newspaper; some years missing
- Indiana Farmer Newspaper, 1851-1917
Iowa Historical Newspapers: Digitized: A-Z Cities/Counties A list of digitized historical Iowa newspapers by city or county
Louisiana Digitizing Louisiana Newspapers Project (DLNP) digitized early newspaper issues from various Louisiana Parishes
- Boston Globe Archives, 3/4/1872-present (fee required to view articles)
- Boston Herald Articles, 5/01/1848-4/30/1992 (fee-based)
Michigan Digital Michigan Newspapers Database and Newspaper Portal includes links to free and fee-based online historical Michigan newspapers
- Missouri Digital Heritage Collections: Newspapers
- Missouri Digital Newspaper Project from the State Historical Society of Missouri
- St. Louis, Missouri Newspaper Archives 1808-1932 at GenealogyBank (fee-based)
- For more St. Louis newspapers, see the newspapers section at St. Louis, Missouri Genealogy Records and Resources
Montana Montana Newspapers from the Montana Historical Society
- New Jersey Digitized Historic Newspapers An index of all known digitized (historic) newspapers published in New Jersey
- Atlantic County Digitized Newspapers Collection no index – files are large
- Monmouth County: Red Bank Register Archive 1878-1991
New Mexico New Mexico Historical Newspapers from the University of New Mexico Digital Repository
- New York Times Article Archive Search, 1851-present some articles require payment
- New York City Record, 1873-1947
- Information about The City Record and the Digitization Project
- New York State Historic Newspapers has over 6 million newspaper pages
- New York Tribune Index, 1875-1906
- Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online, 1841-1955
- Hudson River Valley Heritage: Historical Newspapers Dutchess, Orange, Rockland and Ulster Counties
- Old New York State Historical Newspaper Pages (Fulton History) has over 43 million newspaper pages; includes some newspapers outside of New York
North Carolina North Carolina Newspapers from DigitalNC/the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center
Oklahoma Gateway to Oklahoma History: Searchable Newspapers 1840s-1920s from the Oklahoma Historical Society
- State Library of Pennsylvania: Digitized Historical Newspapers Collection
- Pennsylvania Newspaper Archive
- Philadelphia Press Index 1898-1912
- Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project
- Pennsylvania Civil War Era Newspaper Collection “all the words, photographs, and advertisements from selected [Pennsylvania] newspapers published during the pivotal years before, during, and after the U.S. Civil War”
South Carolina Historical Newspapers of South Carolina
South Dakota Deadwood/Black Hills Newspapers Index, 1877-1900 indexes these Deadwood newspapers: Black Hills Daily Times, Black Hills Champion, and the Black Hills Daily Pioneer
- Fairfax County, Virginia Library Historical Newspaper Index 1785-2000 includes Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington and other newspapers (coverage varies by newspaper)
- Fredericksburg Research Resources – Includes Some Historical Fredericksburg Newspaper Indexes scroll down to the newspapers section
- Richmond Daily Dispatch – Civil War Period 1860-1865
- Newspaper Index: Richmond Times Dispatch, Richmond News Leader 1940s-1985
- Williamsburg: Virginia Gazette 1736-1780
Washington (State) Historical Newspapers in Washington Project (ongoing project) most entries are from the 1850s-1880s
Wisconsin Wisconsin Local History & Biography Articles c.1860 – c.1940 has 16,000 articles