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Primary Source Document Repositories

This page offers links to some of the most widely used repositories of primary sources to use in developing history-social science lessons. These external resources should be carefully reviewed before use in the classroom.

Online Primary Source Document Repositories

Africans in America External link opens in new window or tab.
America's journey through slavery is presented in four parts in this project from the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). For each era, educators will find a historical narrative, a resource bank of images, documents, stories, biographies, and commentaries, and a teacher's guide for using the content of the PBS website and television series in U.S. history courses.

America in Class External link opens in new window or tab.
America in Class, from the National Humanities Center External link opens in new window or tab., hosts primary and secondary resources, webinars, and lessons for history and literature teachers. America in Class is designed to promote the analytical skills called for in the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy External link opens in new window or tab.
The Avalon Project offers digital primary source documents relevant to the fields of law, history, economics, politics, diplomacy and government. They add value to the text by linking to supporting documents expressly referred to in the body of the text.

Calisphere External link opens in new window or tab.
A free public gateway to thousands of digitized primary sources—including photographs, documents, newspaper clippings, and works of art—from University of California (UC) museums and libraries, and other cultural heritage institutions across California.

DocsTeach External link opens in new window or tab.
This resource from the National Archives External link opens in new window or tab. features thousands of primary sources spanning the course of American history as well as document-based activities. Use the search field to find written documents, images, maps, charts, graphs, audio, and video in their ever-expanding collection.

Gilder Lehrman Collection External link opens in new window or tab.
The Gilder Lehrman Collection is a unique archive of primary sources in American history. Owned by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and located at the New York Historical Society, the Collection includes more than 60,000 letters, diaries, maps, pamphlets, printed books, newspapers, photographs, and ephemera that document the political, social, and economic history of the United States. An extensive resource for educators, students, and scholars, the Collection ranges from 1493 through the twentieth century and is widely considered one of the nation’s great archives in the Revolutionary, early national, antebellum, and Civil War periods. Requires subscription, which is free to educators from kindergarten through grade twelve.

HistoryMatters: Many Pasts External link opens in new window or tab.
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.

Library of Congress External link opens in new window or tab.
The Library of Congress offers classroom materials and professional development to help teachers effectively use primary sources from the Library's vast digital collections in their teaching.

Online Archive of California (OAC) External link opens in new window or tab.
OAC provides free public access to detailed descriptions of primary resource collections maintained by more than 200 contributing institutions including libraries, special collections, archives, historical societies, museums throughout California, and collections hosted by the ten UC campuses. The key is the OAC's more than 20,000 online collection guides, which can be used to browse, locate resources, view selected items digitally, or learn how to gain access to the physical objects.

Our Documents: 100 Milestone Documents External link opens in new window or tab.
Provides primary source documents to help teach about the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a democracy.

Questions:   Professional Learning Innovations Office | PLIO@cde.ca.gov | 916-323-6269
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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