U.S. Primary Sources

The following list is comprised of primary source web compilations. If you like primary sources as much as I do, you've just struck the gold mine!!! Enjoy!

America in Class--Collections of primary resources compatible with the Common Core State Standards — historical documents, literary texts, and works of art — thematically organized with notes and discussion questions.

Digital History--Compilation of primary sources categorized by era, topic, and multimedia. Also a source of worksheets, quizzes, and lesson plans.

DocsTeach: Documents--This site is run by the National Archives. It not only includes thousands of primary sources from the National Archives, but also many teaching activities affiliated with the various primary documents.

Library of Congress--Millions of sources and documents to comb through, as well as thousands of teaching resources.

The American Colonist's Library--A compilation of hundreds of primary source documents from around the world arranged in chronological order (500 B.C.E.-1800 C.E.).

History Matters--This feature contains primary documents in text, image, and audio about the experiences of ordinary Americans throughout U.S. history. All of the documents have been screened by professional historians and are accompanied by annotations that address their larger historical significance and context. To be used in conjunction with their Making Sense of Evidence program that will give students insight into how to analyze like the professionals.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History--A great source for both teachers and students. This website contains countless teaching activities as well as many primary source documents.

Our Documents: 100 Milestone Documents--A list of 100 milestone documents, compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration, and drawn primarily from its nationwide holdings. The documents chronicle United States history from 1776 to 1965.

The National Archives Experience: Digital Vaults--Over 10 billion records and primary documents to search through. This website allows students to curate their own digital sources and make posters or movies with them directly within the site.
PBS LearningMedia--The go-to destination for instant access to tens of thousands of classroom-ready, digital resources including videos, games, audio clips, photos, lesson plans, and more! You can search, save, and share with ease. Best of all, PBS LearningMedia is free for educators..

HarpWeek: Explore History--Collection of U.S. History sources, including: political cartoons, informative website links, educational lessons, games and activities.

Founders Online--George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison. Over 119,000 searchable documents, fully annotated, from the authoritative Founding Fathers Papers projects.

Teaching American History--Run by the Smithsonian Source in conjunction with teachers. This website provides a wealth of primary sources, as well as other teaching tools such as: artifact and document analysis activities, compare and contrast activities, graphic organizers, DBQs, and Four Corners/Jigsaw activities.

ProCon.org--Provides multiple perspective informative essays, multimedia, and lists describing the pros and cons of a variety of issues to promote critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, primarily pro-con format.

ConstitutionFacts.com--Includes the text of the Constitution and Amendment, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Supreme Court decisions, and a plethora of other informative articles about some of the most important moments during the birth of the United States.

Federal Judicial Center--This website contains primary source documents and teaching activities that deal with some of the more famous federal trials in U.S. history. Some case studies include: the Sedition Act Trials, the Aaron Burr Treason Trial, the Amistad Trial, the Trial of Susan B. Anthony, and many more modern trials. Each section provides primary sources, as well as teaching activities that align with the subject.

The Great Depression Interviews--From the stock market crash of 1929 to the beginnings of World War II, The Great Depression tells the dramatic and diverse stories of struggle and survival during the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. Originally debuting on PBS stations in 1993, the 7-part series was met with critical acclaim, winning an Emmy for writing and a duPont-Columbia Award. These interviews are part of the Henry Hampton Collection housed at the Film & Media Archive at Washington University Libraries. Each video and transcript represents the entire interview conducted by Blackside, Inc., including portions that did not appear in the final program.

Created Equal--Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle brings four outstanding films on the long civil rights movement to communities across the United States. As part of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)’s Bridging Cultures initiative, Created Equal will encourage communities across the country to revisit the history of civil rights in America and to reflect on the ideals of freedom and equality that have helped bridge deep racial and cultural divides in our civic life. Four outstanding documentary films, spanning the period from the 1830s to the 1960s, are the centerpiece for this project. Each of these films was supported by NEH, and each tells remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo of deeply rooted institutions, from slavery to segregation.

FedFlix-- Joint venture between the National Technical Information Service and PublicResource.org. They feature the best movies of the United States Government, from training films to history, from our national parks to the U.S. Fire Academy and the Postal Inspectors, all of these fine flix are available for reuse without any restrictions whatsoever.

The Avalon Project--The Avalon Project, run by the Yale Law School Lillian Goldman Law Library, collects digital documents relevant to the fields of law, history, economics, politics, diplomacy and government. They also add value to the text by linking to supporting documents expressly referred to within the body of the text.

Primary Source Sets--Run by the Library of Congress, these primary source sets are a wonderful resource because they are categorized by historical topic.

The American Yawp--So this is not a primary source collection but a "free and online, collaboratively built, open American history textbook. It also has "Primary Source" readers that match with the informative text section.

U.S. History.org--This online textbook is a great digital resource. Each topic is described concisely and in a student friendly way. Great for giving students a background in the topic you are covering without spending the entire class reading from a textbook.


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