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Finding Historical Primary Sources


US Presidential Library Websites

The Presidential Library system is composed of thirteen Presidential Libraries overseen by the Office of Presidential Libraries, in the National Archives and Records Administration.  They are repositories of papers, records, and other historical materials of U.S. Presidents and are excellent sources of information for historians and other researchers studying United States history.


African American & Civil Rights Movement Primary Source Websites


Black Abolitionist Papers

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Contains a unique set of primary sources from African Americans actively involved in the movement to end slavery in the United States between 1830 and 1865. The content includes letters, speeches, editorials, articles, sermons, and essays from libraries and archives in England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and the United States. Over 15,000 items written by nearly 300 Black men and women are available for searching.

African American Experience

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Through primary sources and the lens of prominent scholars, this database gives voice to the African American experience from its African origins to the present day.

Oxford African American Studies Center

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Full text online authority on the African American experience. Contents include over 1,750 images, more than 300 primary sources with specially written commentaries, and nearly 150 maps. 150 charts and tables offer information on everything from demographics to government and politics to business and labor to education and the arts


Black Abolitionist Archive

The Black Abolitionist Digital Archive is a University of Detroit Mercy collection of over 800 speeches by antebellum blacks and approximately 1,000 editorials from the period.

African American Odyssey

African-American collections from the Library of Congress American Memory project include The Frederick Douglass Papers, Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, and Slaves and the Courts.

North American Slave Narratives

Contains existing autobiographical narratives of fugitive and former slaves published as broadsides, pamphlets, or books in English up to 1920. Also included are many of the biographies of fugitive and former slaves and some significant fictionalized slave narratives published in English before 1920.

Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive

Includes a selection of digitized photographs, letters, diaries, and other documents. Oral history transcripts are also available, as well as finding aids for manuscript collections.


Texas Slavery Project

The Texas Slavery Project examines the spread of American slavery into the borderlands between the United States and Mexico in the decades between 1820 and 1850. The site includes access to hundreds of letters, newspapers articles, legislative decrees, and diplomatic correspondence from that era.


Freedom Summer Digital Collection

Contains more than 25,000 pages from the Freedom Summer manuscripts. Collections include official records of organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); the personal papers of movement leaders and activists such as Amzie Moore, Mary King and Howard Zinn, letters and diaries of northern college students who went South to volunteer for the summer; newsletters produced in Freedom Schools; racist propaganda, newspaper clippings, pamphlets and brochures, magazine articles, telephone call logs, candid snapshots, internal memos, press releases and much more.

Native American History - Primary Source Websites
US History: Civil War - Primary Source Websites
US History: Women's History - Primary Source Websites