Primary sources are original documents created at the time of an event, such as a newspaper account, photographs, or videos. Primary sources also include diaries, memoirs, letters and correspondence, interviews, government documents, and other records that document a past event. Historians use primary sources to interpret the past while building upon previous historical research.
Historians may locate original documents and other primary sources from archives, such as the University of Arizona's Special Collections. There are also published primary sources included in books and other formats. Those may be located in archives and libraries and can be identified by using a library's catalog or search tool or a database like WorldCat.
Some primary sources have been digitized and made available online, either freely-available or through databases purchased by libraries.
Find digitized primary sources - access from UA Libraries
The University of Arizona Libraries provides access to hundreds of databases of digitized primary sources. These are a few for you to explore: Please note: these resources are only available to high school students when using the University of Arizona computing network.
Unlock a wealth of archival primary source materials with a single search, including letters, papers, government documents, oral histories, and much more, covering various topics and periods in U.S. history.
Note: Click on Browse on upper left to view a list of the collections available at UA.
Find historical documents, including women's issues, health policy, film studies, the American Indian Movement, Mexican history, Afghanistan and the United States, records of the Persian Gulf War, and the U.S. Middle East Peace Policy.
Note: Click on Collections in upper right menu to see those we have available.
Find primary source materials from digital collections on American Indians, the American West, China, the Middle East, Latin America, gender studies, early modern women writers, Virginia Company and more, published by Adam Matthew Digital.
Find unique primary sources that track the development of the modern, Western world through the lens of history, political science, social conditions, technology and industry, economics, area studies and more. Documents from the period 1450-1914.
Search primary and secondary sources related to human rights violations since 1900, including personal accounts, television footage, photographs, NGO records, government reports, court proceedings, documentaries, art, and reference literature. Featured human rights conflicts include Armenia, the Holocaust, Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, Darfur, and others.
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