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Primary Sources Defined
In the study of history as an academic discipline, a primary source (also called original source or evidence) is an artifact, a document, a recording, or other source of information that was created at the time under study.
Online Primary Sources
American Indians of the Pacific Northwest
Extensive digital collection of original photographs and documents about the Northwest Coast and Plateau Indian cultures, complemented by scholarly essays.
Search Washington State historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922.
Columbia River Basin Ethnic History Archive
Brings together selected highlights of the ethnic collections from leading repositories in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
History: Pacific Northwest: Primary Sources [UW]
Rich collection of resources on Pacific Northwest history.
Seattle Municipal Archives
Provides records documenting the history, development, and activities of the agencies and elected officials of Seattle.
Use this site to access cultural heritage collections and exhibits from libraries, museums, and archives from across the country. Find photographs, maps, and book for Washington State using an interactive map.
SPL Special Collections Online
Features digitized materials selected from the Library's special collections, including historical photographs, documents, city directories, and much more.
WA History: Historic Newspapers
"Document the daily life of communities in a way that no history book can reproduce".
Pacific Northwest. Labor and Civil Rights Project
thirteen projects bring together nearly one hundred video oral history interviews and Several thousand photographs, documents, and digitized newspaper articles. Included are films, slide shows, and lesson plans for teachers.
Washington State Library: Digital Collections and Resources
Includes maps, photos, "classic" books on Washington State history, newspapers and more.
Washington State Archives--Digital Archives
Electronic records from both State and Local agencies that have permanent legal, fiscal or historical value, including records for marriages, land transactions, births, deaths, the census, etc.
Washington Women's History Consortium
The Women's History Consortium provides resources about Washington women’s history.
Western Waters Digital Library
Provides free public access to a wide range of significant resources on water in the Western United States.
Additional Northwest Archives
Archives house collections of primary documents used for historical research.
Tips for finding relevant archives:
- Check the lists of archives below.
- Think about your topic's geographical connections and think about where archive collections might be located nearby. Remember that most universities, city libraries, museums, and government agencies contain archives of some kind.
- Try Google. Conduct keyword searches for your topic. For example, you could search for archives AND Alaska Yukon exposition to find archives for this event.
Full-text. Frequently updated encyclopedia of local and Washington state history.