Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Primary and Secondary Sources
A primary source is first-hand information (for example, a personal account of the civil rights movement).
A secondary source is one that examines information based on primary sources (for example, a book that compiles and analyzes the experiences of people who lived through the civil rights movement).
To learn more about the difference between primary sources and secondary sources try the following link.
Many primary sources are available online. Please see the following lists for primary source repositories that cover world, American, regional, and local history.
The Avalon Project
Hosted by Yale Law School, this site contains documents related to legal history from the ancient world through the present. It may be helpful for both world history and American history courses.
British Library Digital Collections
Contains diverse primary sources, including manuscripts, art, and even audio recordings. The sources on this site tend to have a British and European focus.
Cambridge Digital Library
This site provided by the University of Cambridge University Library contains several online collections relating many different aspects of global history.
Digital Bodleian Libraries
This site contains multiple online collections from the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford. Most of the collections focus on European and Asian history across many centuries.
Epistolae: Medieval Women's Letters
Hosted by Columbia University, this site has transcripts of letters written by women living in medieval Europe. The letters have been translated into English.
Exploring the Early Americas: Pre-Contact America
This Library of Congress page contains collections of photographs of artifacts that pre-date the arrival of Europeans in the Americas and may be useful for either American or world history courses.
General History of the Things of New Spain/The Florentine Codex
Created by a Franciscan missionary in the 1500s, this source recorded aspects of Aztec life and culture that pre-dated the arrival of Europeans in the Americas and may be useful for both world history and American history courses.
Internet History Sourcebooks Project
This site from Fordham University contains primary sources from the ancient world through the modern era with a global focus.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Online Collection
Contains images of art and artifacts from the ancient world through the present. This site has a global focus and might be useful for world history or U.S. history.
This collection consists of photos of artifacts created by Pre-Columbian societies and may be useful for either a world history course or and American history course.
Selection of Ancient Egyptian Artifacts
Provided by the University of Memphis Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology, this site contains photographs of ancient Egyptian artifacts.
Tokyo National Museum e-Museum
Contains artifacts from Japanese history from the ancient world forward.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Personal Histories
Contains video and transcripts of interviews with Holocaust survivors. Some of these accounts are strictly European in focus but others have an American connection, addressing topics like U.S. forces liberating camps or survivors moving to the United States.
USC Pacific Asia Museum
Contains artifacts from many different Asian societies from the 600s AD through the contemporary era.
North American Women's Letters and Diaries
Women's writings from the Colonial period to 1950. Includes writings by Abigail Adams, Louisa May Alcott, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Dorothea L. Dix, Julia Ward Howe, and more.
Need help? Contact the VGCC Library.