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Resources for Primary Sources

Tank Crew Castillo Letter Yukon Map

There is no particular area in the library where you will find primary sources shelved. You need to use creativity and insight to think about where to find primary sources for your research. Diaries, memoirs, and letters are possibilities; so are popular press accounts of events and official documents. The items listed below are a sampling of resources that may prove helpful in historical research. Look, too, for collections of documents published as anthologies or for important historical texts from the web sources listed below. If you need help, please don't hesitate to ask a librarian!

Table of Contents:

Archival Materials
  • ArchiveGrid
    Thousands of libraries, museums, and archives have contributed nearly a million collection descriptions to ArchiveGrid. Researchers searching ArchiveGrid can learn about the many items in each of these collections -- from historical documents, to personal papers, to family histories. Researchers can contact archives to arrange a visit to examine materials, and in some cases, order copies. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM).
  • Augustana Lutheran Church Archives
    Microfilmed records of congregations of the Augustana Lutheran Church in Minnesota, including the Minnesota Conference and Red River Valley Conference, ca. 1880-1965. Contents vary by congregation and most include both Swedish and English language text. Meeting minutes, records of baptisms, marriages, deaths, received members, dismissals, confirmations, etc., are included. There is a printed guide to the collection. Located in the Lutheran Church Archives, Library 3rd floor.
    • Location(s): Lutheran Church Archives, Library, 3rd floor
  • Gustavus Adolphus College & Lutheran Church Archives
    Campus records, manuscript collections, student theses, college newspapers, yearbooks, and photographs are just some of the unique resources found in the College Archives. The Lutheran Church Archives houses records of largely Swedish-American church bodies in Minnesota, including photographs, congregational histories, biographical information and microfilmed church records.
    • Location(s): Library, 3rd floor
  • Reference
    • American Decades Primary Sources
      Detroit : Gale 2004
      This resource provides excerpts from primary sources for each decade from 1900-1999. Topics covered range from the arts to science and technology. Although this set does not contain whole documents, it does provide an introduction to each document and explains its significance.
      • Location(s): Ref E169.1 .A471977 (10 vols.)
  • General Collection
    • The American Negro, His History and Literature
      Reprinted in 1968-69, these are books written by African-American authors. They are not shelved all together, but can be located on the catalog by searching the series name as a title, or by clicking here.
      • Location(s): General Collection: Various Locations
    • The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography
      Vol. 2-17 consist of transcriptions of narratives prepared by the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-38, and deposited in the Library of Congress, where they were assembled under title: Slave narratives, a folk history of slavery in the United States from interviews with former slaves.
      • Location(s): E441 .A58 (19 vols)
    • The Black Women Oral History Project
      Contained in this multivolume project are the transcripts of oral interviews of some 72 African American women born, with two exceptions, between 1885 and 1915.
      • Location(s): E185.86 .B545 (10 vols)
    • The Early English Text Society Series
      This is a series of reprints of early books published in English. They are not shelved all together, but can be located on the catalog by searching the series name as a title, or by clicking here.
      • Location(s): General Collection: Various Locations
    • The Early Modern Englishwoman: A Facsimile Library of Essential Works
      Aldershot: Ashgate 2000
      A collection of British women's writing from 1500 to 1640, including the writings of Elizabeth and Mary Tudor, Jane Seymour, confessional writing, poetry, and mother's advice books
      • Location(s): PR 1121 .E19 2000
    • The English Experience, Its Record in Early Printed Books Published in Facsimile
      This is a series of reprints of books first published in English, mostly prior to 1800. They are not shelved all together, but can be located on the catalog by searching the series name as a title, or by clicking here.
      • Location(s): General Collection: Various Locations
    • Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation
      This series contains a selection of representative primary source documents relating to the subject of emancipation in the South from 1861-1867. They are not shelved all together, but can be located on the catalog by searching the series title as a name, or by clicking here.
      • Location(s): General Collection: Various Locations
    • Russia Observed
      This is a series of reprints of books relating to the history of Russia. They are not shelved all together, but can be located on the catalog by searching the series name as a title, or by clicking here.
      • Location(s): General Collection: Various Locations
    • Schomburg Library of Nineteenth Century Black Women Writers
      Oxford: Oxford UP Various Dates
      This series of books, published by Oxford University Press, reprints all sorts of writings-- personal narratives, novels, poetry, anthologies. They are not shelved all together, but can be located on the catalog by searching the series name as a title, or by clicking here.
      • Location(s): Various Call Numbers
  • American Memory
    A database containing full text documents, spoken word and sound recordings, still and moving images, maps, and sheet music as a digital record of American history and creativity. From the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions.
  • MasterFILE Premier
    Although designed for public libraries, this database provides some content useful for college students. It provides full text for nearly 1,700 general reference publications with full text information dating as far back as 1975. It also contains full text for nearly 500 reference books and over 164,400 primary source documents, as well as an image collection of over 460,000 photos, maps & flags. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM).

    Note: To limit your search to primary source documents, select "Primary Source Document" in the "Publication Type" box.
    1975-present; updated daily
  • ProQuest Newsstand
    Indexing and selected full text access to over 350 newspapers from around the world. Archival coverage begins in 1985 for some titles. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM).
    1986-present (most from 1995 on)
  • Sabin Americana, 1500-1926
    Sabin Americana, 1500-1926 makes available online works captured from Joseph Sabinís bibliography, Bibliotheca Americana: A Dictionary of Books Relating to America from Its Discovery to the Present Time. It contains information about North, Central and South America, the Arctic and Antarctica and the West Indies. This resource offers original accounts of exploration, pioneering, settlement, the western movement, military actions, Native Americans, slavery and abolition. It provides access to 33,000 titles, with over 8 million pages of text. Users can search among or within specific works, view the results of full-text searches on facsimile pages from the original works, save lists of results, specific pages or works, e-mail citations for selected works, print and download portions of the works themselves.
Microform Collections
  • American Culture Series
    Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International 1979
    A large collections of microfilmed books and pamphlets, with a printed index to its contents.
    • Location(s): Shelved in Microfilm Room under Reprint Series Ref Z 1215 .A583
  • American Periodicals Series
    Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International 1979
    A collection of periodicals reproduced on microfilm. This library does not own the entire set. A general index, covering the subject matter of different magazines, is available in print form.
    • Location(s): Microfilm Room: PN 4877 .H66 1979
  • American Women's Diaries
    New Canaan, CT: Readex 1984
    This collection of microfilm reproduces the diaries of women who lived and traveled in the western U.S., New England, and the South.
    • Location(s): Microfilm Room - CT 3260 .A64 1984
  • The Cornell University Collection of Women's Rights Pamphlets
    Wooster, MN: Bell & Howell 1974
    This collection of microfiche contains 117 pamphlets published between 1814 and 1912.
    • Location(s): Microfilm Room - Microfiche HQ 1236 .C675 1974
  • FBI File on Malcolm X
    Wilmington: Scholary Resources 1996
    An unusual primary source, reproducing the actual FBI file kept on Malcolm X. Additional FBI surveillance files are available under Microfilm E185.61 .M315 1978. The library owns a similar microfilm collection that covers the FBI file on W.E.B. Du Bois with information the agency collected from 1942 to 1963. These files, though declassified, have been heavily censored and many portions of text are blacked out. Provides not only what the authorities believed was significant evidence on these public figures and their behavior, but insight into how they interpreted that evidence.
    • Location(s): Mircofilm E 185.97 .L5 F23 1996
  • Papers of the NAACP: Part 4, Vorting Rights Campaign, 1916-1950 with supplement: General Office Files, 1956-1965
    Bethesda, MD: University Publications of America 1995
    A firsthand record of the activities of the NAACP in the fight for voting rights. Includes information on voter registration campaigns, reports on the political climate of the times, committee recommendations, accounts of resistance to voter registration campaigns, etc. Indexed by subject and by principal correspondent.
    • Location(s): Microfilm E185.5 .N276 1986, pt.4
  • Records of the Confederate States of America, 1859-1872
    Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources 1967
    Known as Pickett papers. Accompanied by a guide. These records, consisting of about 18,500 pieces, span the years 1858-1872, with the bulk of the material falling in the period April 1861-April 1865. They relate completely to the Confederate States of America: its formation, and the conduct of its internal, external and military affairs during its existence.
    • Location(s): Microfilm Room Main Level: JK9665 .C65 1967
Newspapers and Periodicals: The Popular Press
  • Gustavian Weekly (1920-2005)
    Searchable full text and pdf page images of the Gustavus Adolphus College newspaper. Issues from January 1920 through spring 2005 are digitally archived here.
  • Historic Missouri Newspapers
    Through a collaboration of several libraries, this archive reproduces selected contents of a variety of newspapers from one state, providing digital images of original and close-ups of specific stories. Searchable by keyword.
  • New York Times Historical (1851-4 years ago)
    The full text of the New York Times from 1851 to 4 years ago -- covering the entire publishing history of the newspaper back to the first issue. The newspaper text is fully indexed and searchable and the database also contains full-page images, including graphics. Available on the Web through ProQuest.
    1851-4 years ago
  • Poole's Index to Periodical Literature
    New York: P. Smith 1938 Rev. ed. edition
    An index to the contents of periodicals published in the nineteenth century in England and America. Covers 1802-1881, with supplements that cover through 1906. Though less easy to use than later indexes, it offers access to articles in popular periodicals by subject. Headings are not always easy to guess--the Civil War, for example, is found under United States--Civil War.
    • Location(s): Ref AI 3 .P7 1938 (6 vols.)
    1802-1881 + suppls to 1906
  • Popular Magazines in Print: By Subject
    Information about some of the popular magazines available in the Gustavus library; these can be extremely useful for gaining insight into a particular time period. All magazines are located on the first floor of the library, alphabetized by title of magazine.
  • Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature
    H. W. Wilson Company 1900 -
    Indexes articles and reviews from a range of magazines. A separate book review index is located after the general index.
    • Location(s): Reference A13 .R28
    1900 - present
U.S. Government Documents
  • Foreign Relations of the United States
    Government Printing Office
    Collected correspondence, memoranda, treaties, presidential messages, etc., relating to relating to U. S. foreign policy, arranged chronologically and by region. This is a rich depository of primary source material on foreign relations and international issues.
    • Location(s): JX233 .A3
    1861-present (print) and 1945-present (online)
  • Historic Documents
    [Washington] Congressional Quarterly, inc.
    Each volume of this series consists of a compilation of the most important government documents (including government reports, treaties, court decisions, presidential addresses, etc) for a given year.
    • Location(s): Ref E839.5 .H57
    1972 - ongoing
  • Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States
    Office of the Federal Register
    A repository of proclamations, speeches, statements, etc. of presidents, kept up to date by the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. Volumes from 1992 on are available online.
    • Location(s): shelved with the general collection at J80 .A283
  • U.S. Serial Set
    Washinton, D.C: Government Printing Office 1789-1969
    This series is a compilation of various sorts of Congressional documents. The library owns papers in this series covering the 17th Congress (1798-1823), the 36th through 41st Congress (1859-1871) and the 42nd Congress (1871-1873). They are available on microfiche in the government documents area in a cabinet marked "American State Papers"; a printed index provides subject access to the microfiche by document and envelope number. (For example, an entry for "S.misdoc. 22 (39 - II) 1278" is referencing document number 22 in microfiche envelope number 1278; it is a miscellaneous Senate document from the second session of the 39th Congress.)
    • Location(s): Lower Level- Government Documents Microfiche
  • National Archives and Records Administration
    NARA is the official depository for U.S. government materials. From this site, you can access digitized copies of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and other important documents.
Web Resources
  • Broer Map Library: Online Historic Maps
    A growing collection of thousands of online historic maps from around the world. Several native language atlases (e.g. German maps of Germany) as well as historic road maps, topographical maps and military maps are available. Many are viewable in Google Earth so the viewer can compare the historic map with modern conditions. Search, or browse by region. Users may also search the Historic Map Index, which includes information about 60,000 historic maps in over 100 other online collections.
  • C-SPAN Video Library
    This online archive contains the contents of three C-SPAN cable channels focusing on public affairs, including Congressional affairs. Programs, from 1987 to present are indexed by speaker names, committees, categories, topics, policy groups, and more. Of particular interest are congressional sessions and committee hearings, indexed by full text words and by personal name. Videos also have an "embed" button that can be used to include a video in a website or blog. Originally created by Purdue University, the archive is now hosted and indexed by C-SPAN.
  • Documenting the American South
    Primary sources from the library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill including a collection of books, pamphlets, and personal narratives.
  • Early English Books Online
    Early English Books Online (EEBO) contains digital facsimile page images of nearly 100,000 books in English printed between 1473 and 1700 - virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America, plus works in English printed elsewhere. Texts range from the first book printed in English by William Caxton through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare and the tumult of the English Civil War. Included are works by Malory, Bacon, More, Erasmus, Boyle, Newton, Galileo; musical exercises by Henry Purcell; novels by Aphra Behn; prayer books, pamphlets, and proclamations; almanacs, calendars, and many other primary sources.
  • Eurodocs
    Primary sources from Western Europe, organized by geography.
  • Harvard University Open Collections Program
    A project to provide digital access to a variety of resources with a particular focus. The most developed collection thus far is the Women Working, 1800-1930 collection that features relevant manuscripts, pamphlets, photographs, and books.
  • Historical Maps
    From the University of Texas Perry-Castaneda library Map Collection, maps organized by region.
  • In the First Person
    Indexes over 3,000 collections of personal narratives from around the world, sometimes linking to free full texts available on the Internet. Search by subject, historical event, locations, or words used in the text.
  • Making of America
    A digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. Includes the text of over 8.000 books and 50,000 journals.
  • Medieval Sources Online
    Medieval Sources Online is a web-based learning resource containing hundreds of original medieval history documents compiled for the teaching and study of history.
    books covering European history from 640-1600
  • NYPL Digital Library
    NYPL Digital Gallery provides access to over 550,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the collections of The New York Public Library, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more.
  • NYPL Mid-Manhattan Picture Collection
    Picture Collection Online presents more than 30,000 digitized images from books, magazines and newspapers as well as original photographs, prints and postcards, mostly created before 1923.
  • Vietnam Project
    A major collection of materials, much of it available through the Web, from Texas Tech University.
Photo Credits (Left to Right)

Tank crew standing in front of an M-4 tank, Ft. Knox, Ky. (LOC) -
Letter from Adam Castillo to All Captains, 10/30/1925 -
Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition map -

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