Primary Sources at CSB and SJU
- CSB and SJU ArchivesThe Archives house primary resources like manuscript histories, letters, diaries, journals, oral histories, and newspapers and campus publications.
Digital Libraries and Digital Archives
A list of several digital library projects is listed on Wikipedia. Below are a few major portals that help you access digitized primary sources.
- Minnesota Reflections This link opens in a new windowImages and documents from cultural heritage institutions across Minnesota.
- Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)'The Digital Public Library of America brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world. It strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science.'
- EuropeanaEuropeana is a 'multi-lingual online collection of millions of digitized items from European museums, libraries, archives and multi-media collections.'
- Archives Portal EuropeThe Archives Portal Europe provides access to information on archival material from different European countries as well as information on archival institutions throughout the continent. The archive now includes more than 125 million digital objects from 270 institutions
- IMLS Digital Collections and ContentThe IMLS DCC aggregation brings together cultural heritage collections and exhibits from libraries, museums, and archives from across the country.
What Are Primary Sources?
Note: Academic departments and disciplines define 'primary sources' differently. Check with your instructor if you aren't sure what counts as a primary source for a specific assignment.
With that being said, these are some general characteristics of primary sources:
- Primary sources provide a first-hand account, direct evidence, or original findings on a topic. Primary sources are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented.
- Primary sources are often created at the time the event or condition is occurring (for example, letters or newspaper articles describing current events), but some primary sources are reflections or descriptions of events or conditions that are recorded much later (for example, autobiographies, memoirs, oral histories, and scientific research articles).
- Primary sources are characterized by their content, not format (original, digital, published, etc.). That means, for example, a letter written in 1867 would be a primary source whether you read the original physical letter in an archive, a digital scan of the letter online, or a typed copy of the letter in a published book.
Find Primary Sources Online
Primary sources are increasingly available online as historical societies, museums, and other organizations digitize their primary source collections. Try adding the terms below to your online search:
- "primary sources"
- "oral history"
- "digital library"
Find Primary Sources in Our Library Catalog
Use the Libraries' WorldCat catalog (the main search box on the library homepage) to find primary sources. Just type in your usual search terms and add one of the terms listed below!
- Personal narratives
- Description and travel
- Pictorial works
Library Databases with Primary Source Material
- Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) This link opens in a new windowBooks, pamphlets, essays, and broadsides published during the 18th century (1701-1800).
- North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories This link opens in a new windowLetters and diaries, oral histories, interviews, and other personal narratives from North American immigrants from 1800 to 1950.
- North American Women's Letters and Diaries This link opens in a new windowWritings of 1,325 women and 150,000 pages of diaries and letters, from Colonial times to 1950.
- Sabin Americana: History of the Americas, 1500–1926 This link opens in a new windowA collection of pamphlets, memoirs, legislation, correspondence, biographies, fiction, and other genres based upon a bibliographic work organized by Joseph Sabin with the collaboration of numerous colleges, universities, and historical societies covering all aspects of American life and culture (1500-1926).
Historical Newspaper Collections
- American Periodicals Series Online 1740-1900 This link opens in a new windowAmerican magazines and journals prior to 1900.
- Early American Newspapers, Series I (1690-1876) This link opens in a new windowHistorical newspapers from early America.
- Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports 1974-1996 This link opens in a new windowA collection of English-language transcriptions of media content from around the world collected by the United States' intelligence community. This collection provides an international perspective on world events.
- The Times Digital Archive, 1785-current (5-year embargo) This link opens in a new windowPublished in London, The Times is one of the most highly regarded resources for eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century news coverage.
- Los Angeles Times - Historical Newspapers This link opens in a new windowArchival access to the Los Angeles Times from 1881 - current (minus the last 25 years). One more year of content is added annually.
- New York Times - Historical Newspapers This link opens in a new windowArchival access to the New York Times from 1851 - current (minus the last 4 years). One more year of content is added annually.
- NewsBank This link opens in a new windowSpecial reports and various other databases are available at NewsBank.
- The Times Literary Supplement Historical Archive This link opens in a new windowFull text of The Times Literary Supplement (TLS), published in London, from 1902-2013.
- Washington Post - Historical Newspapers This link opens in a new windowArchival access to the Washington Post, 1877 - current (minus the last 17 years). One more year of content is added annually.
- Westlaw Campus Research This link opens in a new windowLegal research, as well as news sources, both state and federal.
Streaming Video Links
- Digital Theatre Plus This link opens in a new windowDigital Theatre Plus captures the moments before the curtain rises and after the curtain falls, providing valuable insight into the play making process with documentaries and interviews.
- Films On Demand This link opens in a new windowFilms on Demand is a large rental collection of academic and educational videos. Create a username/password (register) on the website, then download and log into the app using the credentials you set.
- American History in Video This link opens in a new windowIncludes commercial and governmental newsreels, archival footage, public affairs footage, and documentaries covering U.S. history.
- Kanopy This link opens in a new windowStreaming documentaries licensed by the libraries for one-year or three-year periods.
- Theatre in Video This link opens in a new windowContains streaming video of play performances and film documentaries.
- CSB and SJU Digital Commons - YouTube ChannelCSB/SJU Digital Commons provides public access to a wide range of locally produced presentations and lectures that have been video recorded on campus.
- Vanderbilt Television News Archive This link opens in a new windowArchive of television news, including evening news broadcasts from ABC, CBS, and NBC (since 1968), an hour per day of CNN (since 1995) and Fox News (since 2004).
Document Analysis Worksheets
The National Archives provides Document Analysis Worksheets that you can use to better observe and analyze various types of primary sources (e.g., photos, written documents, artifacts, posters, maps, cartoons, videos, and sound recordings) that you are using in your research.
- Artstor This link opens in a new windowA repository of hundreds of thousands of digital images and related data.
- Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online CatalogContains catalog records and digital images representing a rich cross-section of still pictures held by LOC's Prints & Photographs Division.