Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

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History Workshop Resources

Primary Sources for Historical Research

Africa: electronic sources
Atlantic Slave Trade
China: sources in print
Europe (Medieval): electronic and print resources
Germany (Modern): print and electronic resources
Japan: sources in print
Japan, China, Korea: electronic resources
Jewish History: Internet Resources for Primary Sources
Korea: sources in print
Latin America: electronic resources
Russia and Eastern Europe
United States: general electronic resources
United States (Civil War)
United States (Guilded Age, 1877-1920)
United States (Lincoln)
United States (Revolution)
United States (Slavery and Freedom): electronic resources


Africa: electronic sources

(See also Atlantic Slave Trade)

Stanford's "Africa South of the Sahara" primary sources page has lots of published and online primary materials on Africa, as well as a plenty of bibliographical entries.

Fordham University's "African History Sourcebook" is less extensive, but denser than Stanford's.

South Africa Truth & Reconciliation Commission has a wealth of tribunal testimony (tens of thousands of pages!) detailing the country's Apartheid period. Follow the link for "amnesty hearings and decisions" at:

South Africa African National Congress historical documents page
Start at the link below, then follow links for "documents," then "historical documents."

University of Virginia, "Liberia Letters" provides full text of former slaves who settled in Liberia.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone has full transcripts for four high-profile war crimes cases. From the documents page pull down the "cases" menu and select a defendant. There are multiple options on each of the four case pages, including "transcripts." Start at:

Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy 1718-1820
This database has a cross-referenced search engine that allows one to search by several criteria, including point of origin in Africa or the Caribbean.

Slavery (Africa and Diaspora)
Stanford/African History on the Internet, primary and secondary sources,

Ancient/Medieval Timbuktu:
Arabic language manuscripts from the Smithsonian collection,

West Africa and African Diaspora:
The SHADD digital archive (including the Nigeria Hinterland Project), contains several interesting primary texts as well as secondary scholarship.

Africa and Slavery
There is an embarrassment of relevant links at:

Atlantic Slave Trade

The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

The Digital Media Lab at the University of Virginia has approximately 1,235 images in its collection, selected from a wide range of sources, most of them dating from the period of slavery. This collection is envisioned as a tool and a resource that can be used by teachers, researchers, students, and the general public -- in brief, anyone interested in the experiences of Africans who were enslaved and transported to the Americas and the lives of their descendants in the slave societies of the New World. (

There is an embarrassment of relevant links at:

China: sources in print

(See also Japan, China, Korea: electronic resources)

Addiss, Stephen ed. Zen Sourcebook: Traditional Documents from China, Korea, and Japan. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2008.

Birch, Cyril. Anthology of Chinese Literature Vol. 1 & 2. New York: Grove, 1972.

Cheng, Pei-kai and Michael Lestz. The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection (New York: W.W. Norton, 1999)

De Bary, Theodore. Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1 & 2. New York: Columbia, 1999.

Lau, Joseph. The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature. New York, Columbia, 1995.

Mair, Victor. The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature. New York: Columbia, 1994.

Schell, Orville and David Shambaugh. The China Reader: The Reform Era. New York: Vintage Books, 1999. Primary documents from the rise of Deng Xiaoping to economic reform today.

Teng, Ssu-yu and John K. Fairbank. China's Response to the West: A Documentary Survey, 1839-1923. New York: Atheneum, 1966.

Wang, Robin R. Images of Women in Chinese Thought and Culture: Writings from the Pre-Qin Period through the Song Dynasty. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2003.

Europe (Medieval): electronic and print resources

Electronic Resources

The Labyrinth is one of the best places for those interested in medieval materials. It is a database of databases-a "metabase" perhaps-and can be found at:

The depth and quality of the material in the various categories is uneven, but it should help people get started.

Print Resources

I would urge those who are serious about medieval primary sources to venture into the huge variety of material published (the old fashioned way-in books) by English local history and antiquarian societies. We have a very limited amount of this in our library; students may want to look for material published by the Selden Society (related to the history of law) or the Early English Text Society (a lot of literary material, but also town records, for example). Our library has the bulk of the EETS catalog on (take a deep breath) microfiche, though there are some regular books too. Students who can get to the University of Pennsylvania (or other major research libraries), will discover an excellent collection of the publications of local history societies. Go to the library (Van Pelt), find the DA 670s, and browse. Warning: you may be struck dumb with amazement at the riches hidden there.

Germany (Modern): print and electronic resources

Electronic Sources

Published Sources

Most translated and accessible published German sources have, not surprisingly, to do with the Nazis or World War II.

Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen, and Voelker Riess, eds. "The Good Old Days": The Holocaust as Seen buy its Perpetrators and Bystanders

Hamburg Institute for social Research, The German Army and Genocide: Crimes against War Prisoners, Jews, and other Civilians, 1939-1945

Generalfeldmarschall Fedor von Bock, The War Diary, ed by Klaus Gerbet

Charles Burdick and Hans-Adolf Jacobson, The Halder War Diary, 1939-1942.

Helmuth von Moltke, Letters to Freya

George L Mosse, Nazi Culture

Roderick Stackelberg, The Nazi Germany Sourcebook: An Anthology of Texts

Jeremy Noakes, Nazism 1919-1945: A Documentary Reader (4 volumes)

Alison Owings, Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich

Anonymous, A Woman in Berlin

Victor Klemperer, I Will Bear Witness

On debates concerning (West) German memories of National Socialism, these are especially useful:

Geoffrey Hartman, ed. Bitburg in Moral and Political Perspective.

Geoff Eley, ed. The Goldhagen effect : history, memory, Nazism: Facing the German Past

Peter Baldwin, ed. Reworking the past : Hitler, the Holocaust, and the historians' debate

Published, translated collections on other topics would include:

Alfred Kelly, The German Worker

Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers, Correspondence, 1926-1969

Japan: sources in print

(See also Japan, China, Korea: electronic resources)

Beasley, W.G. Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868. London: Oxford University Press, 1955.

De Bary, Theodore ed. Sources of Japanese Tradition Vols. 1 & 2 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.

Hane, Mikiso. Reflections on the Way to the Gallows: Rebel Women in Prewar Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Hane, Mikiso. Peasants, Rebels, Women, and Outcastes: The Underside of Modern Japan. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.

Keene, Donald. Anthology of Japanese Literature. New York: Grove, 1960.

Lu, David. Japan: A Documentary History, Vols. 1 & 2. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 1997.

University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies ed. From Japan's Modernity: A Reader. Chicago: Center for East Asian Studies, 2002.

University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies ed. Readings in Tokugawa Thought. Chicago: Center for East Asian Studies, 1998.

Japan, China, Korea: electronic resources (Image Database, Japan) (Japanese history textbook issues)

Jewish History: Internet Resources for Primary Sources

American Jewish Archives

The American Jewish Historical Society

Web-based Related Resources for American Jewish History·

Feinstein Center for American Jewish History

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (East European Jewish Studies; Yiddish language, literature and folklore; and the American Jewish immigrant experience.)

The Archive of Jewish Immigrant Culture

Yizkor Books (Memoirs of Jewish shtetls, written after Holocaust)

Yizkor Book Translations

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (online archives)

Eilat Gordin Levitan - Home page (Contains over 50 links to photo histories of Jewish communities in Eastern Europe and family histories)

Internet Jewish History Sourcebook

Center for Jewish History

Jewish Witness to a European Century: An Interactive Database of Jewish memory

The Sephardi Center: Jews of Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans

Museums and Virtual Exhibits

Korea: sources in print

(see also Japan, China, Korea: electronic resources)

Ch'oe, Yongho and Peter H. Lee. Sources of Korean Tradition, Vols. 1 & 2. New York: Columbia, 1997.

Latin America: electronic resources

These links contain an invaluable number and diversity of secondary and primary source materials for research into topics in Latin American history/studies, in English and Spanish.

Hispanic Division, Library of Congress:

Latin American Network Information Center:

Foreign Relations of the United States:

National Security Archives:

Russia and Eastern Europe

Virtual Library for Russian and Eastern European Studies
Created in 1993, REESWeb is the Virtual Library covering Russia and Eastern Europe. In its 15 year history, REESWeb has sought to help users identify high quality web content that is located in or focuses on the region stretching from Bohemia to Central Asia. All web sites listed in REESWeb are vetted by the editors, categorized for easy searching, and annotated to provide users with a good idea of what they will find upon visiting a site. This is a comprehensive index of electronic sources on Russia and other areas of the former Soviet Union. You can browse by: subject, geographical region, culture, or time period. You can also do a Keyword search.

Yale Russian Archive Project
The Yale Russian Archive Project (YRAP) will serve as a clearinghouse for information in order to facilitate access to the newly available documents in the archives of the former Soviet Union. The YRAP site will provide scholars around the world with detailed information about the archives before they travel to Russia, Ukraine and other former-Soviet republics. It also links to other Russian archival material available online.

Seventeen Moments in Soviet History
Seventeen Moments in Soviet History contains a rich archive of texts, images, maps and audio and video materials from the Soviet era (1917-1991). The materials are arranged by year and by subject, are fully searchable, and are translated into English. Students, educators, and scholars will find fascinating materials about Soviet propaganda, politics, economics, society, crime, literature, art, dissidents and hundreds of other topics

REESWeb is a Virtual Library covering Russia and Eastern Europe. In its 15 year history, REESWeb has sought to help users identify high quality web content that is located in or focuses on the region stretching from Bohemia to Central Asia.
All web sites listed in REESWeb are vetted by the editors, categorized for easy searching, and annotated to provide users with a good idea of what they will find upon visiting a site. This hands-on orientation places a high value on precision and quality in its listings rather than volume and, as such, should provide helpful to researchers, academics and casual users who want to find relevant material on the web rather than sifting through thousands of search results.

Alexander Palace
This is not only a great source on the Romanovs and their life and times (with a lot of visuals), but also contains information on Russian Orthodoxy, the Revolution, the fate of the palaces during the Great Patriotic War, etc.

Photography of the Russian Empire
This is a link to the Library of Congress’ online exhibit of the work of Prokudin-Gorskii, who was Tsar Nicholas II’s photographer.  This includes not only photographs of the tsar but also of life in the late imperial era.

The Lenin Internet Archive
This contains Lenin’s works, biographical information about him, and pictures and audio clips of Vladimir Ilyich.

Russian Revolution Links
David Barnsdale’s compilation of many links to material related to the Russian Revolution, broadly conceived (so beginning at the end of the 19th century and stretching into the Stalinist era).  I haven’t checked all of these to ensure that they are active.

USSR Archive Exhibit
Exhibit mounted by Library of Congress and displayed simultaneously in DC and Moscow.   Monumental because it was the first public display of the secretive way in which the USSR was governed.

Hermitage Museum
The Hermitage Museum’s website.  This had been the Winter Palace before the Revolution and the seat of the tsars since the era of Elizabeth I.  Guide includes information related to the building, Russian history, the museum’s exhibits, etc.

Soviet Poster Collection
Focuses on the period spanning the 1917 Revolution and the early Stalinist era.

Other Resources

This is a great repository of resources for the study of Central Asia:

This is a wonderful collection of maps that cover Russia and the former republics of the Soviet Union:

This is an online exhibit of material from the Soviet Archive compiled and exhibited by the Library of Congress:

United States: general electronic resources

Students should not neglect primary sources available through the F&M library site, especially:

  • The New York Times
  • Civil War Newspapers
  • Accessible Archives
  • Reader's Guide Retrospective
  • Early American Newspapers (thru 1920)
  • American Broadsides and Ephemera
  • Nineteenth Century Masterfile

United States (Civil War)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1841-1902
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle was published from 1841 to 1955, then revived for a short time from 1960 to 1963. Because of the enormity of the collection, the digitization of the historic Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper from reels of microfilm has been broken down into more than one phase. Phase I, which can at present be found on this site, covers the period from October 26, 1841 to December 31, 1902, representing half of the Eagle's years of publication.

The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War
The archives tell the story of major national political events that occurred between 1859 and April 1870.

United States (Guilded Age, 1877-1920)

United States (Guilded Age, 1877-1920), electronic resources
resource list in development

United States (Lincoln)

The major collection of Lincoln papers is accessible at:

Mr. Lincoln's Virtual Library
This site highlights two collections at the Library of Congress that illuminate the life of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), sixteenth president of the United States. The Abraham Lincoln Papers contain approximately 20,000 items including correspondence and papers accumulated during Lincoln's presidency. The "We'll Sing to Abe Our Song!" online collection, drawn from the Alfred Whital Stern Collection in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, includes more than two hundred sheet-music compositions that represent Lincoln and the war as reflected in popular music. In addition to sheet music, the Stern Collection contains books, pamphlets, broadsides, autograph letters, prints, cartoons, maps, drawings, and other memorabilia.

United States (Revolution)

The American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence

Statistics From Colonial America:

Letters from spies during the American Revolution:

Documents on the American Revolution from Yale University (mostly political, including state constitutions)

Documents on the American Revolution at Mount Holyoke (mostly political, including Indian treaties). Please note that wile many of the links on this page have become inactive since it was first posted, but some valuable ones remain active.

From Revolution to Reconstruction website at Rutgers University has many documents including Jefferson's notes on slavery)

Website for PBS television series Liberty! on the American Revolution (some images and basic history) has paintings, Flags, and information on Black Loyalists.

Library of Congress exhibit on religion and the American Revolution (many documents and images)

Maps from the Era of the American Revolution at the Library of Congress

Revolutionary Era Maps

Library of Congress American Memory Collection documents

Images of the Revolution from the National Archives: Digital Classroom with Documents and Lessons

Primary documents published in 19th century book, Camps and Firesides of the Revolution

Colonial Williamsburg teacher resources unit entitled Revolution Liberty or Loyalty (you have to register to access it):

American Revolution bibliography and essays (with a totally annoying page background)

Maryland Paper Money

Text of Speeches

Maps of the thirteen colonies and/or the Revolution (Quebec Act, 1775)

Peter Force American Archives
Peter Force, printer and document collector, intended to publish rare pamphlets, correspondence, and proceedings relating to the "Origin, Settlement, and Progress of the Colonies in North America" that covered the time period 1763-1789. After years of work, the final (but unfinished) result was 9 volumes of material covering the years 1774-1776. Since this material is of extreme importance to scholars of the Revolutionary War period, and is collected in this one source, Northern Illinois University Libraries received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in order to provide free electronic access to Force's American Archives.

Primary Documents in American History
There are nearly two dozen of early American documents available at

William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The Gallery of Letters provides a brief description of each spy letter and links to more information about the stories of the spies in the letter or the secret methods used to make the letter.

Project Avalon has dozens of British, colonial, and American documents written between 1764 and 1783.

A basic site with timelines, thumbnail biographies, etc. is available at:

United States (Slavery and Freedom): electronic resources

(also see Africa, Atlantic Slave Trade)

Slave Narratives Federal Writers' Project

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers'
Project, 1936-1938.

Slavery and the Making of America (PBS)
This recent PBS series focuses on American Slavery from 1619 to 1865. It contains slave narratives, an interactive timeline, the slave experience (daily life), and links to educational resources.

University of Wisconsin:

These resources appear to assume some familiarity with SPSS or SAS software.

Library of Congress, "Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860"

Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy 1718-1820
This database has a cross-referenced search engine that allows one to search by several criteria, including point of origin in Africa or the Caribbean.