Finding Primary Document Resources  

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Definition Highlights of Primary Research and Primary Documents and Resources
  Proposes theories and solutions
*    Provides original ideas  
*    Defines terms and coins new words, etc.  
*   Information collected firsthand: from an eyewitness; an interview or questionnaire; including experiments,
       naturalistic observation or case studies

*    Research usually published in peer reviewed journals, other printed forms, or respected online websites  
*    Provides firsthand evidence of historical events.  In some instances published materials can also
       be viewed as primary materials if they were written during the time of an event, a person's direct observation  
*    Primary resources are generally unpublished materials that have survived from the past such as:
Manuscripts; Diaries: Autobiographies; Letters; Speeches; Postcards, Posters; Photographs; Maps;
         Artifacts;  Articles of clothing; Audio and Video Recordings; Oral Histories; or Government Records
*    In contrast, secondary materials, such as textbooks, synthesize and interpret primary materials.
       Secondary sources are also accounts of the past written some time after events have happened.


Primary Document Resource Databases Available Through Chesnutt Library 

America: History and Life  
Historical coverage of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present. 

American Civil War: Letters and Diaries  
This release contains 2,009 authors and approximately 100,000 pages of diaries, letters and memoirs. Each source has been carefully chosen using leading bibliographies.

American National Biography  
The premier biographical resource for notable people in American history. Click on the "Subscribers Click Here"
link in the menu at the top of the page.

American Slavery: A Composite Autobiography 
A collection of the life histories of former slaves in the United States compiled through nearly 4,000 interviews with ex-slaves. 

Biography and Genealogy Master Index 
Index to biographical sketches found in current and retrospective biographical dictionaries.

Early Encounters in North America: Peoples, Cultures and the Environment  
This release of Early Encounters in North America contains 1,482 authors and over 100,000 pages of letters, diaries, memoirs and accounts of early encounters.

Harper's Weekly  
Harper’s Weekly (1857-1877) provides w
eek-to-week chronological record of world-wide events in the last half of the nineteenth century.

FSU Web access campus or home

In The First Person  
"[In The First Person] allows for keyword searching of more than 260,000 pages of full-text by more than 9,000 individuals from all walks of life. It also contains pointers to at least 2,500 audio and video files and 16,000 bibliographic records."

FSU Web access campus or home

Lexis-Nexis History Universe  
Rich database of primary historical resources

The Making of the Modern Economy- A very complete, full-text database of economic writing and primary
sources covering the years 1450 to 1850.

New York Times Historical  
The New York Times Historical (1851-1999) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue.

North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories  
North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories provides a unique and personal view of what it meant to immigrate to America and Canada. Contains more than 100,000 pages of personal narratives, including letters, diaries, pamphlets, autobiographies, and oral histories.

North American Indian Thought and Culture  
This fourth release of the North American Indian Thought and Culture contains over 62,000 pages of text and images. Included are biographies, auto-biographies, personal narratives, speeches, diaries, letters, and oral histories.

North American Women’s Letters and Diaries: Colonial to 1950  
Over 150,000 pages of published letters and diaries plus 4,000 pages of previously unpublished materials
depicting the personal experiences of hundreds of women. Remote access coming soon. Contains materials
from Colonial times to 1950.

North Carolina Encyclopedia  
This encyclopedia is designed to give you an overview of the people, the government, the history, and the
resources of North Carolina.

Oral History Online  
This release of Oral History Online provides in-depth indexing to more than 2,700 collections of Oral History in English from around the world.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography  
"50,000 biographies of people who shaped the history of the British Isles and beyond, from the earliest times to the year 2001."

Proquest Dissertations and Theses- Full Text  
More than two million dissertation and theses from 1861 to the present, many of them full text.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers  
Offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue of the New York Times
(1851-1899) and the Wall Street Journal (1889-1985). Includes digital reproductions providing access to
every page from every available issue.

Readers Guide Retro  
Readers' Guide Retrospective (1890-1982) is a database containing comprehensive indexing of the most popular general-interest periodicals published in the United States and reflects the history of 20th century America

FSU Web access campus or homeWall Street Journal Historical  
The Wall Street Journal Historical (1889-1985) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue.

FSU Web access campus or homeWomen and Social Movements in the United States: 1600 - 2000  
Women and Social Movements (1600-2000)
"currently includes 61 document projects with 1,645 documents, and at least 21,000 pages of additional full-text documents. It includes as well book, film and website reviews."

Selected Web Sites Which House Digitized Collections of Primary Documents and Images

Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.  Since 1954, the Archives has collected roughly 16 million letters, photographs, diaries, sketches, scrapbooks, business records, and other documentation that supports the study of the history of the visual arts in America.

Documenting the American South. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Galaxy of Knowledge, Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Internet Archive, Prelinger Library. A 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library, with the purpose of offering permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format. Founded in 1996 and located in the Presidio of San Francisco.

Internet Sacred Text Archive. The largest freely available archive of online books about religion, mythology, folklore and the esoteric on the Internet. The site is dedicated to religious tolerance and scholarship.

Library of Congress American Memory Project

     Library of Congress American Memory Collection: Map Collections

Making of America at Cornell University, Making of America at University of Michigan. A digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction.

NYPL Digital, New York Public Library. Find over 550,000 images from primary sources and printed rarities including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs, illustrated books, and printed ephemera.

Credit: Content in the Definition Highlights:  
UCLA Institute on Primary Resources
; Library of Congress American Memory Project; Ohio Historical Society, Primary Sources; University of California at Berkeley, Library Research: Finding Primary Sources

Charles W. Chesnutt Library, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, N.C. 28301
Page Maintained By: Jan S. Whitfield
Last Updated: 1/21/09