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HIST 434 / HIST 834: American Trials of the Twentieth Century (Flood, Winter 2024): Primary Sources

Primary Sources

Primary Sources are original materials or firsthand accounts of historical events. Some examples could include diaries, newspaper articles, and letters originating from the time you are studying.

More information on differentiating between primary and secondary sources can be found here.

Primary source databases

The library subscribes to a number of primary source databases on a variety of topics. A full list is available here

Please note that if you are working off campus, most of these resources require you to log in with your username and password.

Particularly relevant resources

Some of the primary source databases that might be relevant in this course are:

  • Black Thought and Culture provides approximately 100,000 pages of monographs, essays, articles, speeches, and interviews written by leaders within the black community from the earliest times to 1975. The collection is intended for research in black studies, political science, American history, music, literature, and art.
  • Economist Historical Archive 1843 to 2015 delivers a complete searchable copy of every issue of The Economist from 1843 to 2015. New full-colour images, multiple search indexes, exportable financial tables and a gallery of front covers highlighting a key topic of each week -- all combine to offer a primary source of research covering the 19th and 20th centuries. 
  • is a website curated by Professor Douglas Linder, and hosted by the UMKC School of Law. It contains a collection of essays as well as primary source materials on historical trials. 
  • Gale Primary Sources is an integrated platform that combines Gale’s digital archives into a single cross-searchable interface. This broadens and enhances the ability to discover primary source documents from multiple collections. This platform combines dozens of historical archives which include monographs, manuscripts, newspapers, maps, and photographs and covers more than 500 hundred of years of history.
  • New York Times contains the full text of the New York Times newspaper from its inception in 1851 to 2017. Contains full-page images of each issue.
  • Washington Post contains full-text coverage of the Washington Post newspaper from its inception in 1877 to 2006. Contains full-page images of each issue.

Primary source subject headings

In Quick Find, the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) for a given work are listed in the bottom half of the item record next to Subjects.

Image of subject headings in an item record in Quick Find

You can search for a specific subject heading by selecting Browse at the top of the Advanced Search page in Quick Find, and entering a search term (just make sure the drop-down box at the top of the page is set to "Browse by subject"). 

Subject headings that end in --Sources, --Correspondence, --Personal narratives, and similar are generally assigned to materials that include primary source materials. 

Click on the subject heading to view all records that have been assigned to it.

Image of subject headings, two of which end in "--Sources"