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History & Political Science: Primary Sources

Library resources for the study of history and political science

Primary Sources

Primary sources are materials that provide first-hand accounts or evidence of an event or condition being studied. They are often created by eyewitnesses or chroniclers at a particular time, or they may include memoirs or oral histories recorded later. Typical primary sources include letters, speeches, diaries, newspaper articles, oral history interviews, photographs, archives, and artifacts. 

Secondary sources discuss or relate information originally presented elsewhere. Scholarly books and articles tend to be secondary sources.  

Guides & Gateways

Colonialism Links

Colonial Americas

University-related collections 

National Libraries 

Living History Museums

Primary Source Collections Online

Census Data and Statistics 

Cultural collections including images and texts

Historic Textbooks and Related Materials 

Internet Archive/ Wayback machine 

The Internet Archive is a huge, free archive of public-domain materials including government records, books, and motion pictures. It includes the Wayback Machine that captures webpages from the 1990s to the present. 

Legal Documents 

       Searchable collection of declassified (but often, redacted) records of FBI investigations. 

       Information about finding digital and print court records for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

       A searchable collection of case documents for the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Motion Pictures and Audio

The Library of Congress free archive of historic films including vintage documentaries and popular titles. 

WSU-only databases