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HIST 146: U.S. History I: Archives & Primary Sources

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.



Finding archival sources on your topic can take some digging, but here is one strategy you might try.

1. Go to the suggested online archives and web directories below.

2. Conduct keyword searches for your topic.  For example, if your topic is the War of 1812, you could search for archives AND America AND 1812 and you would find:

The Avalon Project at Yale Law School:  The War of 1812
A collection of documents relating to the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain, including documents such as the U.S. Act declaring war and the 1814 Treaty of Ghent.

Remember to use broad search terms - the directories do not index full-text of articles, primary sources, and web sites. If you need any help, just ask a librarian!

American History Online Primary Sources