This guide is an introduction to what primary sources are in the field of history, how to use primary sources, how to read and transcribe original documents and links to on-line primary sources by historic topic.
This is a selected bibliography of primary source collections pertaining to Colonial American history, the American Revolution and the period of the Early Republic available online. Please note, the library is not responsible for the content on these sources and it is the student's responsibility to properly cite from the proper location. There may also be secondary sources included in these collections and it is up to the student to evaluate if the item qualifies as a primary or secondary source.
Transcriptions and images of 100 "milestone" documents from American History. Including significant 18th century documents [Lee Resolution (1776), Declaration of Independence (1776), Articles of Confederation (1777), Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), Original Design of the Great Seal of the United States (1782), Treaty of Paris (1783), Virginia Plan (1787), Northwest Ordinance (1787), Constitution of the United States (1787), Federalist Papers, No. 10 & No. 51 (1787-1788), President George Washington's First Inaugural Speech (1789), Federal Judiciary Act (1789), Bill of Rights (1791), Patent for Cotton Gin (1794), President George Washington's Farewell Address (1796), and the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798)]
From the Library of Congress, 253 published narratives about and from visitors to the colonies and United States (1750-1920). Subjects include: agriculture, topographic descriptions, social life and customs, religion, Native Americans, military, Mormons, and much more.
Images of primary source documents pertaining to the American Revolution and the New Nation (1775-1815). [George Washington's Commission as Commander in Chief (1775), Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), Lee Resolution (1776), Declaration of Independence (1776), Articles of Confederation (1777), Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), Treaty of Paris (1783), Northwest Ordinance (1787), Constitution of the United States (1787), Federalist Papers (1787-1788), George Washington's First Inaugural Address (1789), Judiciary Act of 1789 (1789), Residence Act (1790), Bill of Rights (1791), Jay's Treaty (1794), George Washington's Farewell Address (1796), Alien and Sedition Acts (1798), Jefferson's Secret Message Regarding the Lewis & Clark Expedition (1803), Marbury v. Madison (1803), Louisiana Purchase (1803), Treaty of Ghent (1814)]
From the National Archives, digitized images of significant documents pertaining to U.S. history from the Articles of Confederation, the check written to purchase Alaska, Edison's light bulb patent and more.
"The Printed Ephemera collection at the Library of Congress is a rich repository of Americana. In total, the collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history."
Searchable database of primary sources that relate to 17th and 18th century North America, covering a variety of topics such as social life, education, trade, finance, politics, revolution, war, women, Native American life, slavery, science, medicine, and religion.
From the Delaware Public Archives, 30 primary source documents (1646-1683) including land grants, court dockets, marriage contracts, indentured servant contract and more. Fully transcribed and images of the original available as well.