What kind of sources should I be looking for?
This site is largely oriented towards providing links and information to primary sources in American history. These might include individual sources (Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech, for instance, or the Declaration of Independence) or collections of source materials (a site collating cartoons from the Civil War era, or a selection of newspaper articles on the Civil Rights era). Many of the archives maintained by American universities and libraries are now huge, and contain within them a multitude of possible research projects for students taking document options, HST209, HST398, HST399, or the MA / PhD dissertations. Individual sources meanwhile can enrich classroom discussion across the curriculum.
Below is a by no means exhaustive account of the kinds of sources you might want to look for:
- Youtube / Google video clips
- Transcriptions of speeches
- Poems and songs
- Newspaper articles
- Cartoons and illustrations
- Census data
- Court transcripts
- Government reports
- Congressional debates
Collections of any of the above, including for instance newspaper archives, a series of books and pamphlets, or sites gathering together a number of maps and illustrations. These will vary in size from containing a handful of documents (e.g. Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery) to hundreds of thousands of records (e.g. Google Books).
In your seminars, you may be asked to look for either individual sources or digital archives. Sometimes you may be asked to find a particularly interesting individual source within a digital archive.
If you are searching online, try entering terms like 'digital collection', 'digital archive', 'electronic archive' etc. plus the subject matter you are looking for, e.g. Civil Rights, Andrew Jackson.
Western Bank Library and the Information Commons retain a strong collection of primary sources in American History, both on paper and in microfilm. We also would like you to explore these and add information on what you find.