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National History Day 2019

Learn about primary sources

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.

Learn more about how to identify, find, and evaluate primary sources with this Using Primary Sources on the Web guide from the American Library Association.

Find digitized primary sources - open access

Find digitized primary sources - access from UA Libraries

Please note:  these resources are only available to middle school and high school students when using the University of Arizona computing network.

Collections of digitized materials, including diaries, correspondence, government documents, images, and more.
Digitized newspapers and other sources