14 Free Resources for Primary Source Documents

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Primary sources are resources that were first-hand created in a given period of time and never undergone any kind of editing or distortion. These sources are multimodal and they come in different forms. They can be artifacts, documents, pictures, video and/or audio recordings, essays, photographs, maps...etc. There are several online platforms where you can search for and access primary source documents to use with your students in class.

 Inspired by Edutopia's list I went ahead and curated for you the collection below. Whether you teach social studies, history, literature, Geography or any other content area where there is a need for original and primary source documents, the list below will definitely be a good starting point for searching and assembling primary sources.

1- Library of Congress

The Library of Congress offers classroom materials and professional development to help teachers effectively use primary sources in their teaching. Also, Library of Congress provides lesson plans that meet Common Core standards, state content standards, and the standards of national organizations.

2- Primary Source Nexus

Funded by a grant from the Library of Congress PSN provides access to thousands of digitized primary sources available from www.loc.gov.

3- America in Class

This websites offers collections of primary resources compatible with the Common Core State Standards — historical documents, literary texts, and works of art — thematically organized with notes and discussion questions.

4- Chronicling America

Search America's historic newspapers covering from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.

5- Docs Teach

DocsTeach provides thousands of primary source documents that span the course of American history. Use the search functionality to find document-based activities to use in your class. You can search by keyword and further refine your search by historical era and document type.

6- Digital Archive Wilson Centre

The Digital Archive contains 'once-secret documents from governments all across the globe, uncovering new sources and providing fresh insights into the history of international relations and diplomacy.'

8- Persus Digital Library

Persus Digital Library is another wonderful resource for primary source documents. Under the tab "collections and text" you can browse from thousands of resources all archived in digital format.

9- Life Photo Archive

Life Photo Archive is a good platform to search for  millions of photographs  stretching from the 1750s to present. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google. Add "source:life" to any Google image search and search only the LIFE photo archive. For example: computer source:life

10- Milestone Documents

Milestone Documents provides a growing collection of primary sources for teachers.You’ll find material from nearly every time period and location, plus pedagogical support designed by teachers for teachers.

11- Internet History Sourcebook Project
The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented cleanly (without advertising or excessive layout) for educational use.

12- Euro Docs

For our colleagues teaching in Europe, this website features sources on European history. It offers selected transcripts, facsimiles and translations on different historical periods .

13- History Matters

Designed for high school, college teachers and students, History Matters serves as a gateway to web resources and offers other useful materials for teaching U.S. history.

14- World Digital Library

The World Digital Library (WDL) 'makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.'