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The Hulbert Taft, Jr. Library

Honors US History: Civil War Podcast Project: Primary Sources

Primary Sources

Any document, image, or artifact created at the time of the topic being researched is a primary source. Examples include eyewitness accounts, autobiographies and memoirs, diaries, letters, speeches, reports, newspapers, household and day-to-day objects, clothing, works of art, architecture, and photographs.


Please note that primary source documents are a reflection of the time and culture in which they were created and may contain language or images that are considered offensive today.

Find Primary Sources in Online Subscription Databases

Important notes for searching for primary sources in news / periodical databases:

  • Always limit your search to the date range relevant to your topic.
  • Try searching terms, phrases, etc. that were commonly used at the time in relation to your topic.
  • Look at other limiters on the advanced search page that might improve your results, such as article, commentary, editorial, essay, feature, front page / cover story, letter to the editor, etc.

History Databases Containing Primary Sources

If you have any questions, email Mr. Padgett
or Ms. Taylor

We're here to help!

Find Primary Sources in eBooks

Primary Source eBook Only Search

Use this search to find only ebooks containing primary sources
that can be accessed via our library catalog.

Select Primary Source Type:
There are three subject headings that indicate primary sources:
Sources, Personal Narratives, and Diaries.
Each drop down will give different results, so try them all!

Type of search?

Find Primary Sources on the Internet

The American Civil War: a collection of free online primary source websites from the Association of College and Research Libraries

The Black Freedom Struggle in the United States: a Selection of Primary Sources Approximately 1,600 curated primary-source documents related to critical people and events in the African American freedom struggle. Documents include historical newspaper articles, pamphlets, diaries, correspondence and more.

The Black Past: Remembered & Reclaimed The "Google" of African American history includes an online encyclopedia, primary sources, and much more.

The Civil War: Harper's Weekly Original Civil War Newspapers Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper during the Civil War, and it featured stunning illustrations, and in depth stories on all the important people and events of the war. Coverage currently runs from 1861 to May 1865. (Newspaper thumbnails take you to the complete paper.)

Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877 Each set collects primary sources on a specific frequently-taught topic, along with historical background information and teaching ideas; from the Library of Congress.

Digital History An extensive documents collection is part of this award-winning American history website from the College of Education at the University of Houston.

Digital Public Library of America: Primary Source Sets A vast collection of free content from American libraries, archives, and museums. 


NoodleTools Tips for Citing Primary Sources

PLEASE NOTE: Do not copy and paste complete citations from electronic sources. NoodleTools cannot generate footnotes from copied and pasted citations.

For a new citation, click on +New Source.

To cite a Primary Source, first choose the NoodleTools option that best describes where you found it:

  • Database = a Taft Online Subscription Database such as Annals of American History. 
  • Website = a document found through the Websites page of your course guide or a search engine such as Google. 

Next, determine what kind of primary source you are citing:

  • Look at the list of options under Database or Website. Is it a newspaper article, a speech, a letter, or another item listed? If so, choose that item type.
  • If you are not sure, you can use "Anthology / Collection" which enables you to cite a source found within another source.
  • You can also email Mr. Padgett or Ms. Taylor, and we'll help you figure it out.

If you found your document in a Taft Subscription Database:

  • Enter information about your access to the document:
    • The permanent URL to the article. Look for any of the following on the article page: permalink, persistent link, stable link, durable link, "Get link", Cite, or Citable Link.
    • The name of the database (select from the My library's databases drop-down menu)
    • The date you accessed the article.
  • Enter the information about the primary source itself: author, title, etc.

You can email Mr. Padgett or Ms. Taylor with any questions you may have!