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The Hulbert Taft, Jr. Library

U. S. History: Native Americans: 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, newspapers, household objects, clothing, works of art, and photographs.

Primary Sources in Databases

Primary Sources on the Internet

The American West (from Spartacus Educational; scroll down to Native American Tribes to select your tribe. Each tribal article is followed by several primary sources)

A century of dishonor: a sketch of the government's dealings with some of the Indian tribes (book by Helen Hunt Jackson and others published in 1881, and found on the Internet Archive)

Digital History: Native Voices (primary sources ranging from first contacts to the present)

Docs Teach: American Indians: Primary Sources and Ready-to-Use Teaching Activities (from the U.S. National Archives)

Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian (click on portfolios for images; from Northwestern University Digital Library Collections)

Indian Peoples of the Northern Great Plains Digital Collection (includes photographs, paintings, ledger drawings, documents, serigraphs, and stereographs from 1874 through the 1940s; from Montana State University) 

Indigenous Digital Archive (documents the history of U.S. government Indian boarding schools in the 19th and 20th centuries; from the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, New Mexico)

Native American Documents Project (Includes annual reports of the commissioner for Indian affairs from the 1870s and other documents; from California State University, San Marcos)

Treaties between the United States and Native Americans (Avalon Project, Yale University Law School)


NoodleTools Citation Tips

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

  • Database = a document found in a Taft Subscription Database such as Gale eBooks or American History Online.
  • Website = a document found on a website found through a search engine such as Google.
  • Print or In Hand = a document found in a book in the library. For example: in a reference book or a secondary source.

Next determine what kind of primary source you are citing: 

  • Look at the list of options in NoodleTools. Is it a newspaper article, a speech, a letter, or another item listed? If so, choose it. 
  • If you're not sure, you can use "Anthology / Collection" which enables you to cite a source found within another source. 


Primary Sources in Reference Books / eBooks

REMEMBER: Print Reference books are for use IN THE LIBRARY ONLY.

American eras: primary sources. Ref E169.1 .A47198 2013   8 vols (also an online ebook)

Conflicts in American history: a documentary encyclopedia. Ref E174 .C655 2010  7 vols (also an online ebook) Tip for ebook: Open the Table of Contents (upper right) for search feature.  

Defining documents in American history: the American West (1836-1900). Ref F591 .A457 2014 (also an online ebook)

Defining documents in American history: Native Americans (1451-2017). Ref E77 .N38 2017  (also an online ebook)

Documents of United States Indian policy. Ref KF8205 .D63

Encyclopedia of American Indian history. Ref E77 .E48 2008  4 vols

Encyclopedia of North American Indian wars, 1607-1890: a  political, social, and military encyclopedia. 2011 3 vols  (an online ebook)

Indian treaties in the United States: an encyclopedia and documents collection. Ref  KIE19 .I53 2018     (also an online ebook)  

Primary Sources in Books and eBooks

Print books may be signed out for USE IN THE LIBRARY ONLY for the duration of the assignment

Competing voices from native America / edited by Dewi Ioan Ball and Joy Porter. E77 .C743 2009

Eyewitnesses to the Indian Wars, 1865-1890 / edited by Peter Cozzens. E81 .E989 2001  2 vols

I have spoken; American history through the voices of the Indians / Virginia Irving Armstrong. E98.O7 A7 1971

The Indian and the white man / Wilcolm E. Washburn. E77 .W3

The Indian in America's past / Jack D. Forbes. E77 .F68

The Indian reservation system / Terry O'Neill, book editor. E93 .I3827 2002

Major problems in American Indian history : documents and essays / edited by Albert L. Hurtado, Peter Iverson. E77.2 .M35 2001

Manifest Destiny and American territorial expansion: a brief history with documents / Amy S. Greenberg

Native American testimony: a chronicle of Indian-white relations from prophecy to the present, 1492-1992. E93 .N3

Our hearts fell to the ground : Plains Indian views of how the West was lost / edited by Colin G. Calloway. E78.G73 O97 1996

Reconstruction : people and perspectives / edited by James M. Campbell and Rebecca J. Fraser. E668 .R423 2008

This country was ours; a documentary history of the American Indian / Virgil J. Vogel. E77.2 .V63 1972

Voices of the American Indian experience / edited by James E. Seelye Jr. and Steven A. Littleton. E77 .V65 2013  2 vols (also an online ebook)

Westward expansion (Interpreting primary documents) / edited by James D. Torr, F591 .W64 2003