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Archer Library



History & Political Science Resources: Primary Sources

Ashland University Library Sources for History and Political Science students.

About Primary Sources

 What are Primary Sources?


Primary sources are original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of memoirs and oral histories. Primary sources may include letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, speeches, interviews, memoirs, documents produced by government agencies such as Congress or the Office of the President, photographs, audio recordings, moving pictures or video recordings, research data, and objects or artifacts such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons. These sources serve as the raw material to interpret the past, and when they are used along with previous interpretations by historians, they provide the resources necessary for historical research.


Source: American Library Association

AU Primary Source Databases

 You will be asked to log in before using the database.

Black Freedom Struggle in the United States: Challenges and Triumphs in the Pursuit of Equality

ProQuest invites you to explore the new Black Freedom Struggle website, featuring expertly selected open primary source documents. Visitors will find historical newspaper articles, pamphlets, diaries, correspondence and more from specific time periods in U.S. history marked by the opposition African Americans have faced on the road to freedom.

The content is curated around six time periods: 

  1. Resistance to Slavery and the Abolitionist Movement (1790-1860)
  2. The Civil War and the Reconstruction Era (1861-1877)
  3. Jim Crow Era from 1878 to the Great Depression (1878-1932)
  4. The New Deal and World War II (1933-1945)
  5. The Civil Rights and Black Power Movements (1946-1975)
  6. The Contemporary Era (1976-2000)

Directories to Collections

Hathi Trust


Records are available through the OhioLINK catalog. with direct links to the publications. A keyword search in the OhioLINK catalog for Hathi and other and your your search term. Or, you may go directly to the Hathi Trust website to search by keyword or within the full text.

Finding Books with Primary Sources

Published collections generally use the word "sources" and “history” as part of the Library of Congress Subject Heading(s) assigned to the record :

Examples of Subject Headings:

      France--History--Philip III, 1270-1285--Sources


      United States--History--19th century--Sources

      United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Sources

Notice that the word History and Sources are used in each of these Subject Headings.  If you are uncertain of the exact Subject Heading, rather than a Subject Search try a Keyword search. Type your keyword and link it together with AND plus the word "sources." ( Churchill AND sources)

 Tip: You might have better luck using the OhioLINK book catalog. It allows you to perform both a Subject search and a Keyword search at the same time, using the advanced search.  When searching the OhioLINK catalog, you can enter a known subject term in the Subject heading box, and you can use the term "sources" as part of your keyword search.

Finding Primary Documents with WorldCat

WorldCat contains records of library holdings from across the United States and around the world. Use the Advanced Search link, then limit Format to "archival materials."





Primary Sources on Web

Primary sources for the Americas. There are additional resources under the tab for Web Sites.



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