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History 300: American Colonial History to 1763: Primary Sources
An online course guide for finding library resources for use with History 300
Some of the Library's databases contain an abundance of primary source material, depending on what you are looking for. Not every item in these databases is primary, so remember to evaluate each source carefully.
Early Canadiana Online is a full text collection of more than 3,000 books, pamphlets, and other sources documenting Canadian history from the first European contact to the late 19th century. The collection is particularly strong in literature, women's history, native studies, travel and exploration, and the history of French Canada.
A collection assembled from hundreds of sources, Early Encounters in North America: Peoples, Cultures, and the Environment documents the relationships among peoples and the environment in North America from 1534 to 1850. The collection focuses on personal accounts and provides unique perspectives from all of the protagonists, including traders, slaves, missionaries, explorers, soldiers, native peoples, and officials, both men and women.
Eighteenth Century Collections Online I & II have access to the digital images of over 180,000 titles including books, pamphlets, essays, broadsides, and more in the fields of history, literature, religion, law, fine arts, science, and more. These collections can also be searched using Gale Primary Sources.
North American Women's Letters and Diaries includes the immediate experiences of 1,325 women and 150,000 pages of diaries and letters. The collection also includes biographies and an extensive annotated bibliography of the sources in the database.
Women and Social Movements in the United States brings together books, images, documents, scholarly essays, commentaries, and bibliographies, documenting the multiplicity of women's reform activities. The resource, which examines perspectives on women's social movements from Colonial times to the present, is updated on a quarterly basis by adding new document projects, book and website reviews, related teaching tools, and more documents.
This collection brings together a multitude of essential legal materials on slavery in the United States and the English-speaking world. This includes every statute passed by every colony and state on slavery, every federal statute dealing with slavery, and all reported state and federal cases on slavery. The collection also includes the full text of UNC Press titles related to slavery.
The Gerritsen Collection is the largest single source for the study of women's history in the world, with materials spanning four centuries and 15 languages. The collection includes the full text of over 4,000 books, pamphlets, and periodicals.
Not every one of the above materials is always a primary source; each item must be considered individually.
What Is a Primary Source?
When doing historical research, it is important to distinguish between primary and secondary sources:
"Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later. Primary sources are characterized by their content, regardless of whether they are available in original format, in microfilm/microfiche, in digital format, or in published format." (What Are Primary Sources? Yale University)
Secondary sources are written by someone who was not present during the event or condition under discussion. Authors of secondary sources use primary sources or other secondary sources to gather their information.