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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Primary Source Guide

Local History

Digital Libraries/Online Collections


American Song

68,000 tracks of historical recordings of jazz, blues, gospel and other genres, 1890's-1970's.

AP Images

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Associated Press' library of photographs back to 1826, plus news stories, graphics and audio 1997-present.


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More than one million digital images of works of fine art, architecture and design.

Dance in Video

Videos of dance performances, and documentaries on dance, from the 1950's to present.

Luna Image Collections

Several collections of art images and photography, from sources including UMass Art History Department and Amica.

Shoah Foundation Institute's Visual History Archive

On-campus use only. Windows Media Player plugin does not work with Firefox 23.0.1. Use Internet Explorer.

Fifty thousand video testimonies in 32 languages, from 56 countries, on the Holocaust.

Online Sources

Many primary sources have been digitized or "born digital,"  and are available online either for free or through one of the university's subscription resources. This page contains some good places to start -- there are many more.

Note that while all of these resources contain primary sources, they do not only contain primary sources.

Pamphlets, Papers, and Books

American Memory

Large collection of reproductions of primary source material from U.S. Library of Congress: pictures, pamphlets and recordings. Earliest dates from 1400s.

Black Abolitionist Papers

Papers and articles of 300 US and European anti-slavery activists of color, 1830-1865.

Early English Books Online

The 125,000 earliest books published in English, as listed in Short Title Catalogs of Pollard & Redgrave (Ref Z 2002 P77) and Wing (Ref Z 2002 U587), 1475-1700.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online

Every significant book or pamphlet printed in the UK, and English-language titles printed in America, between 1701 and 1800.

European Views of the Americas: 1493-1750

Comprehensive bibliography of books, pamphlets and other records written in European countries on the Americas. A companion to Sabin's Bibliotheca Americana.

North American Women's Letters and Diaries

Primary source material for life as it was lived by 1,000 women in North America, 1675-1950.

Perdita Manuscripts

Renaissance Center is the subscriber.

Reproductions of 250 early British women's manuscripts: accounts, diaries, prose, cookery books, and more.

Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000

Primary and secondary sources on women's involvement in historical events. Includes books, pamphlets, papers, and articles.

Women and Social Movements International

Activists' letters and diaries, conference proceedings, and other primary and secondary sources 1840-present.


David Rumsey Map Collection

Early maps of the Americas, World, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania, 1700-1900.

Digital Sanborn Maps

Very detailed maps of New England towns and cities as they were in the 19th and early 20th centuries. There are several versions over time of most maps, 1867-1970.

Government & Business

A tool for finding, accessing and using Federal government data sets, newly developed to promote open government.

Digital National Security Archive

Declassified documents of the NSA and predecessor agencies, 1882-present.


Access to Congressional bills and reports; public laws and regulations; executive and federal agency documents; a catalog of government publications, and links to government websites.

Historical Statistics of the United States

Statistics gathered by the Census Bureau, with scholarly editing and essays, from colonial times to near present.

ProQuest Congressional

Hearings, bills, laws and legislative histories, committee prints, Congressional Research Service reports, Congressional Record and predecessors, and the Serial Set.

ProQuest Historical Annual Reports

Annual reports of 800 leading US companies from as early as 1844.

United Nations Treaty Collection

Contains the texts of over 50,000 bilateral and multilateral treaties and agreement, in their original languages and French and English, 1920s-present.


African American Newspapers

Seven nineteenth-century African American newspapers in full text, including advertising, 1827-1902.

Historical Baltimore Afro-American

The paper in full text, 1893-1988.

Historical Boston Globe

The entire Boston Globe, searchable, in image files, 1872-1979.

Historical Chicago Defender

Influential black weekly newspaper, searchable, in image files, 1905-1975.

Historical Chinese Newspapers

English-language newspapers published in China. It spans 1832-1953, with most content from 1910-1940.

Historical New York Amsterdam News

Newspaper of the Harlem Renaissance and beyond, 1922-1993.

Historical New York Times

The entire New York Times, searchable, in image files, from 1851 to three years ago.

Historical Pittsburgh Courier

The leading newspaper of the African American community in twentieth-century U.S. Covers 1911-2002.

Historical Washington Post

Paper of record of the nation's capital, 1877-1995.

Latin American Newspapers

Thirty five searchable newspapers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, and elsewhere, 1805-1922.

Massachusetts Newsbank

Amherst Bulletin, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Springfield Republican, Greenfield Recorder and six more Western Mass papers, most mid-90's to present

.Naver News Library

Four major Korean newspapers: Tonga ilbo 東亞日報 = Dong-A ilbo, 1920-1999; Kyŏnghyang sinmun 京鄕新聞 = Kyunghyang Shinmun, 1946-1999; Maeil kyŏngje sinmun 每日經濟新聞 = Maeil Business Newspaper, 1966-1999; and Han'gyŏre 한겨레 = The Hankyoreh, 1988-1999. Displays in original text, Hangul version text, and original images.

People’s Daily (Ren Min Ri Bao)

Chinese newspaper of record, 1946-present.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers

Combined search of historic Afro-American and ethnic and alternative newspapers, and historical Boston Globe, New York Times, and Washington Post.

Yomidas Rekishikan

Japan's largest newspaper, Yomiuri Shinbum, in full text, 1874-present. Includes English edition, Daily Yomiuri, 1989-present.