"Primary sources are documents, artifacts, images, and other evidence of an event created by firsthand witnesses." (Bombardo 2012)
Examples of primary sources include:
- Art (paintings, drawings, sculpture, etc.)
- Court cases
- Government documents
- Newspaper articles
- Notebooks, Sketchbooks
- Official memoranda
- Oral histories
- Public opinion surveys/polls
- The library catalog lets you search across the holdings of Gleeson Library and Zief Law Library, including books, videos, and other materials.
- Search across more than 60 libraries in California and Nevada, and request available books to be delivered to Gleeson Library in 2-4 business days.
- HathiTrust is a collaborative of academic and research libraries preserving 17+ million digitized items. HathiTrust offers reading access to the fullest extent allowable by U.S. copyright law, HathiTrust members steward the collection — the largest set of digitized books managed by academic and research libraries. Gleeson Library is not a HathiTrust member but anyone can create a guest account
- Open Library is an open, editable library catalog, building towards a web page for every book ever published. Read, borrow, and discover more than 3 million books.
- WorldCat.org lets you search the collections of libraries in your community and thousands more around the world. Excellent for identifying resources. Access the discovered resources through other databases or through InterLibrary Loan.
- An A-Z list of current newspaper databases at Gleeson
- An A-Z list of historical newspaper databases at Gleeson
Select Newspaper Resources
- Through nearly 7000 news sources, find diverse global, local, regional, and national perspectives on topics related to controversial issues, the environment, health, education, science, the arts, literature, business, economics, criminal justice, and more.
- The San Francisco Chronicle provides researchers and scholars with online, easily-searchable first-hand accounts and unparalleled coverage of the politics, society and events of the San Francisco Bay Area, California, and the world.
- Independent Voices is a digital collection of alternative press newspapers, magazines and journals, drawn from the special collections of participating libraries. These periodicals were produced by feminists, dissident GIs, campus radicals, Native Americans, anti-war activists, Black Power advocates, Hispanics, LGBT activists, the extreme right-wing press and alternative literary magazines during the latter half of the 20th century.
- Gleeson Library is a Federal depository Library for government documents . This is a thorough guide to Government Documents.
Select Government Document Resources
- Provides free online access to official United States government publications. Maintained by the United States Government Publishing Office (GPO). Formerly called FDsys.
- ProQuest Congressional is especially useful for performing legislative histories and locating Congressional documents. It is also very useful for tracking legislation and major public policy issues, locating recent Congressional documents and related material in full text, and learning more about Congress and the legislative process.
- The Digital National Security Archive contains the most comprehensive set of declassified government documents available. The resource now includes 44 collections consisting of over 104,000 meticulously indexed documents, with more than 733,000 total pages.
- The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity. The series, which is produced by the Department of State's Office of the Historian, began in 1861 and now comprises more than 450 individual volumes.
- Provides a single access point to UN information, current and historical.
- Sanborn fire insurance maps are the most frequently consulted maps in both public and academic libraries. Sanborn maps are valuable historical tools for urban specialists, social historians, architects, geographers, genealogists, local historians, planners, environmentalists and anyone who wants to learn about the history, growth, and development of American cities, towns, and neighborhoods.
- OldMapsOnline.org indexes over 400.000 maps. This is only thanks to the archives and libraries that were open to the idea and provided their online content.
Primary Source Databases
- An A-Z list of databases that self identify as having primary sources
- Gale Primary Sources allows researchers to uncover primary source documents in archives where they may not have thought to look, greatly enhancing their research experience. By building a seamless research environment for multiple collections, Gale is creating the largest digital humanities and social sciences collection in the world.
- Digitized historical documents, photographs, sound recordings, moving pictures, books, pamphlets, maps, and other resources from the Library of Congress’s vast holdings.
- History Vault provides access to primary source, cross-searchable, full-text/full-image documents on a wide array of topics in 19th and 20th-century American history.
Select Topical Primary Source Databases
- Documents the history of African American life and religious organizations from materials published between 1829 and 1922.
- Contains collections from the U.S. National Archives, a series of collections from the Chicago History Museum, as well as selected first-hand accounts on the Indian Wars and westward migration. Also included are Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, records from the Major Council Meetings of American Indian Tribes, and several collections that focus on the interaction among white settlers, the U.S. federal government, and Indian tribes.
- This unique archive captures various accounts of the Civil War as it was experienced on land and at sea. The collection provides firsthand perspectives from hospitals and prison camps and reactions to the War from the homefront.
- Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800 has been hailed as the definitive resource for researching every aspect of 17th- and 18th-century America. This incomparable digital collection contains virtually every book, pamphlet and broadside published in America over a 160-year period.
- Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801-1819 provides a comprehensive set of American books, pamphlets and broadsides published in the early part of the 19th century.
- Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II in December 1941, the Roosevelt administration decided that for reasons of “military necessity,” the government would evacuate all persons of Japanese heritage from the West Coast states. The Records of the War Relocation Authority document the day-to-day running of the 10 relocation camps from 1942-1946. The collection is organized by relocation center. Records include reports and correspondence on issues such as security, education, health, vocational training, agriculture, food, and family welfare.
- The content in Orderly Books provides detailed accounts of troops’ daily lives, documenting everything from court martial cases to the price of necessities charged by locals. Given the dearth of soldiers’ diaries, Orderly Books provides historically valuable information about soldiers’ lives.
- Japanese American Confinement Sites CollectionThis collection contains images related to the planning, design and construction of sites of Japanese American confinement during World War II, specifically the sites named Relocation Centers. These were ten semi-permanent sites located in isolated areas of the western United States and Arkansas. The collection includes three types of images: 1) architectural drawings, and 2) engineering plans or maps, 2), objects from the National Japanese American Historical Society's collection.
Select Web Resources
- BASE is one of the world's most voluminous search engines especially for academic web resources. BASE provides more than 240 million documents from more than 8,000 content providers. You can access the full texts of about 60% of the indexed documents for free (Open Access). BASE is operated by Bielefeld University Library.
- To preserve the world's written heritage of all ages – literary, scientific or other – and keep it accessible to research and use everywhere is one of the core missions of any research library. To realize this, libraries and others are creating surrogates of printed or hand-written items in micro-optic or digital form. In order to preserve as many documents as possible, our limited resources should be spent on reformatting those items that have not been digitized or microfilmed already.
- The Digital Public Library of America has 44,918,855 images, texts, videos, and sounds from across the United States
- The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public. Our mission is to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge.
- The Online Archive of California (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, and museums throughout California and collections maintained by the 10 University of California (UC) campuses.
- The World Digital Library is an international digital library operated by UNESCO and the US Library of Congress. The library intends to make available significant primary materials from cultures around the world, including manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, architectural drawings, and other significant cultural materials in multilingual format with open access online.
Select Local Archives
- The African American Museum and Library at Oakland is dedicated to the discovery, preservation, interpretation and sharing of historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in California and the West for present and future generations. AAMLO's archival collection is a unique resource on the history of African Americans in Northern California and the Bay Area. The archives includes over 160 collections documenting prominent families, pioneers, churches, social and political organizations.
- The Freedom Archives is a non-profit educational archive located in San Francisco dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of historical audio, video and print materials documenting progressive movements and culture from the 1960s to the 1990s.
- The Dr. John P. De Cecco Archives and Special Collections of the GLBT Historical Society are among the largest and most extensive holdings in the world of materials pertaining to LGBTQ people, occupying more than 3,500 linear feet of storage. Broadly speaking, our over 900 collections include personal papers, organizational records, periodicals, oral histories, photographs, audiovisual recordings, ephemera, artifacts and works of art.
- The Labor Archives collection includes materials from the counties surrounding San Francisco Bay, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara. More than 6,000 feet of primary source material is available for research. From the beginning of the twentieth century to the present, a wide scope of Bay Area labor activity is represented. Many unions have made the Labor Archives the official repository for their historical records -- minutes, office correspondence, membership files, publications and contracts.
- The Prelinger Library is an independent research library located in San Francisco’s South-of-Market neighborhood. It is open to anyone for research, reading, inspiration, and reuse. The library is primarily a collection of 19th and 20th century historical ephemera, periodicals, maps, and books, most published in the United States. Much of the collection is image-rich, and in the public domain. The library specializes in material that is not commonly found in other public libraries
- The Daniel E. Koshland San Francisco History Center contains a research collection of books, newspapers and magazines, photographs, maps, posters, archives and manuscript collections, and ephemera, documenting all aspects of San Francisco life and history. The Center is also the archives for the City and County of San Francisco.
- The Tauber Holocaust Library and Archives houses more than 13,000 volumes, an archive of more than 2,000 recorded oral histories, and many rare artifacts, memorabilia, and images documenting the Holocaust.