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Library Session Materials
What Are Primary Sources?
Primary sources are first-hand accounts, original manuscripts, records, or documents produced from the time period at hand.
Some examples of primary sources include:
- Photographs or artwork
- Personal narratives, memoirs, or diaries
- Government documents
- Historical records
- Court cases
These may be available in their original form or they may be reproduced or reprinted in a book, digital repository, or other source.
Other LibGuides about Primary Sources
Teaching with Primary Sources
Getting Started with Primary Sources
Library of Congress manages a series of webpages, including Teacher's Guides; Finding Primary Sources; Distance Learning and Primary Sources; Primary Sources and Standards; etc.
Ideas, Activities, and Plans
Library of Congress' Teaching With Primary Sources Eastern Region manages a searchable database of teacher-created resources.
Engaging Students with Primary Sources
This Smithsonian reference guide is designed to highlight the benefits of using primary source materials in any classroom and to provide you, the teacher, with practical suggestions and examples of how to do this. It also includes a bibliography and links to other sites on the Internet that
feature primary source materials.
Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium Journal Archives
Between 2008 and 2016, the Library of Congress' Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Consortium members contributed their knowledge to 15 issues of the TPS Consortium Journal – a publication dedicated to support the use of Library of Congress digitized primary sources to teach a number of topics in the K-12 curriculum.
Websites with Primary Sources
National Archives' DocsTeach
DocsTeach is a product of the National Archives education division. Our mission is to engage, educate, and inspire all learners to discover and explore the records of the American people preserved by the National Archives.
National History Education Clearinghouse's TeachingHistory.org
TeachingHistory.org is designed to help K–12 history teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom.
Rochester Digital Collections from the Monroe County Library System
Index compiled by staff of the Local History Division of the Rochester Public Library. Digital collections include Rochester History, Rochester Newspaper Index, Eastman Kodak Company catalogues, and more.
New York Heritage Digital Collections
NewYorkHeritage.org is a research portal to hundreds of digital collections about New York State's people, places, and institutions. It brings together freely accessible digital collections from libraries, museums and archives from all over the state.
NYPL Digital Collection
Explore 900,000+ items digitized from The New York Public Library's collections. This site is a living database with new materials added every day, featuring prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, streaming video, and more.
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections.
Making of America
Making of America is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the Antebellum Period through Reconstruction.
Digital Public Library of America
Digital Public Library of America has over 7 million items that include image, text, moving images and sound. To locate items, conduct a general search and then use the filters to identify moving images for streaming items. Rights information is listed in the item's record.
The World Digital Library
The World Digital Library of the U.S. Library of Congress makes it possible to discover, study, and enjoy cultural treasures and significant historical documents on one site, in a variety of ways. Content on the WDL includes books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, journals, prints and photographs, sound recordings, and films.
EuroDocs connect to European primary historical documents that are transcribed, reproduced in facsimile, or translated. They shed light within the respective countries over a broad range of historical happenings (political, economic, social and cultural).
The Avalon Project will mount digital documents (Ancient to Modern/Present) relevant to the fields of law, history, economics, politics, diplomacy, and government.
Online Library Databases with Primary Sources
Gale in Context: Elementary This link opens in a new window
Gale in Context: Elementary meets the research needs of students in Kindergarten through Grade 5. It features a developmentally appropriate, visually graphic interface, a subject-based topic tree search and full-text, age-appropriate, curriculum-related magazine, newspaper and reference content for information on current events, the arts, science, health, people, government, history, sports and more.
Gale in Context: Middle School This link opens in a new window
Created specifically for middle-schoolers, Gale in Context: Middle School combines the best of Gale's reference content with age-appropriate videos, newspapers, magazines, primary sources, and much more. Students will find outstanding support to complete assignments in core subjects including literature, science, social studies, and history.
Opposing Viewpoints In Context This link opens in a new window
Opposing Viewpoints In Context is an engaging online experience for those seeking contextual information and opinions on hundreds of today's hottest social issues. The database features continuously updated viewpoints, topic overviews, full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, statistics, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted websites organized into a user-friendly portal experience.
Democrat & Chronicle (ProQuest Newspapers) This link opens in a new window
Search and access Democrat & Chronicle newspaper issues from 1871 to the present! Articles are images of the original paper in PDF format. The most recent issue is 21 days behind the current date to allow time for digitization and hosting.