Head-and-shoulders portrait of Frederick Douglass, 1862. Photo by John White Hurn.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Primary sources give you a front-row seat to past events and unedited access to the people who shaped our history. You gain new perspectives by examining the past through the eyes and ears of someone who was there.
Primary sources may include, but are not limited to:
letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, maps, speeches, interviews, documents produced by government agencies, photographs, audio or video recordings, born-digital items (e.g. emails), research data, and objects or artifacts (such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons).
-- Primary Sources on the Web: Finding, Evaluating, Using. ALA Reference and User Services Association, 2015.
Primary sources can also be challenging to use.
The formats of primary sources may be unique and unfamiliar. They require critical analysis due to their creators’ intents and biases; the variety of contexts in which they have been created, preserved, and made accessible; and the gaps, absences, and silences that may exist in the materials.
Consider reaching out to a Skyline College librarian for help as you get started.
You're welcome to Ask a Librarian for guidance.
Academic class, Roger Williams University, Nashville, 1899. Courtesy Library of Congress (00651765)
Here are collections of high quality primary sources online that you can include, quote and cite in your college papers and projects.
While there are hundreds of source sets, research guides and online exhibits to choose from, we've listed a small selection of the best.
University of Virginia logo
The University of Virginia Libraries has compiled an excellent list of "Free Web Sources" containing high quality primary sources for the study of African American history, mostly from universities and museums.
(Note: Scroll half way down the page to locate "Free Web Sources" box).
Here are just a couple examples of what you'll find there:
Mural of John Lewis, Atlanta, Georgia. Credit: TNS
From the Atlanta Constitution-Journal
From The New York Times
John Lewis looks out over Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington on June 7, 2020.
Photo credit: Khalid Naji-Allah/Executive Office of the Mayor/AP.
John Lewis was the last living member of the "Big Six," the Civil Rights Movement leaders who organized the 1963 March on Washington. Pictured, March 6, 1963, Roosevelt Hotel, New York. L to R: Lewis, Whitney Young, Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King, James Farmer and Roy Wilkins. Photo credit: AFP / Stringer
Ethnic NewsWatch (ProQuest) (Sign in as you would to Canvas)
Ethnic NewsWatch is an interdisciplinary, bilingual database of full-text newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press. Designed "to tell the other side of the story," it gives students and other researchers access to essential, often overlooked perspectives. Dates: 1990-current.
We look forward to your recommendations for additional resources to include in Antiracism: A Resource Guide.
Please submit a Research Help Form including your recommendation(s) and any links or comments you choose.
Thank you for helping to build this new Skyline College resource.