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HISTORY 121: World History

Primary Sources on the Web

Numerous collections of primary sources have been digitized and made freely accessible on the Internet. As the topics for this course will be very broad, we cannot cover every place you might find a primary source in this guide. However, a few tips:

  • Newspapers are easy to use, and can allow you to easily pinpoint a date and location. They tell you what types of messages the public was receiving about an event or person, but can be very biased depending on the readership of the newspaper.
  • If you are writing about a particular country or countries, try looking in the National Archives of that country.
  • Use the references lists of the books and articles you are reading. If the author references a map or a certain report, ask a librarian to help you locate that map or report.
  • Primary sources may not tell us everything, and you should look underneath the surface - or think about the silences - to really understand their meaning. There are not very many firsthand accounts from marginalized groups that have been preserved, or they may have been left out of the records. Why? What does this tell us about how different identity groups are valued in societies? Consider WHO wrote the source and for PURPOSE.

Databases with Primary Source Content

The WSU Libraries have several databases that can be used to locate electronic primary sources. Here are some to consider:

Historical Newspaper and Periodical Collections

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us