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Primary Sources: Pacific Northwest History

Welcome! This guide is a starting point for students with research assignments requiring primary sources.

What is a primary source?

Primary sources are artifacts or documents created during the period of time under study.They provide an original source of information about your topic. Primary sources can include photographs, art, newspapers, diaries, interviews, letters, novels, speeches, government documents, and music. 

historical image of the Smith Tower

Image source: Smith Tower (Gaggin and Gaggin, 1914), under construction, Seattle, ca. 1913 Postcard in public domain.

Online Primary Sources

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.

Indigenous Resources

Books Containing Primary Sources