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Current List of Primary Source Databases:

Primary Sources Tip Sheets

Primary sources can be defined as "those closest, in time and connection, to any subject of investigation." [Richard Maruis, A Short Guide to Writing about History, 8th ed., 2012, p.14]

These include

  • Letters, diaries, memoirs, speeches, and other first person accounts
  • Certain government publications, such as Congressional hearings
  • Official accounts by people in authority, such as reports from the Secretary of the Navy or captain of a ship
  • Oral histories or interviews
  • Manuscript collections
  • Most newspaper or periodical articles from the time of the event
  • Other material from the time such as photographs or pamphlets


Full-text Primary Source Document Collections

History Vault, World War II: U.S. Documents on Planning, Operations, Intelligence, Axis War Crimes, and Refugees

Defining Documents in American History

Examples of Primary Source Collections in Books

Primary source collections in print may be in the Reference Collection on the 1st floor or in the general collection with other material on that subject.

Early American Naval Document Collections

Nimitz Library Special Collections and Archives