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Painting: Capture of the flotilla Garibaldi gaining the shore with Annita by John James Story
Primary sources are original sources of information, typically created at the time of the events or individual being researched. Primary sources can be:
- Laws and Parliamentary Debates (Hansard)
- Newspaper reports, by reporters who witnessed an event or who quote people who did
- Speeches, diaries, letters and interviews - what the people involved said or wrote
- Photographs, video, or audio that capture an event
- Art, political cartoons, or literature from the time period
- Census data or economic statistics
- Original research
Secondary Sources add a layer of interpretation and analysis to primary sources, and are usually written after the time period being examined.
Primary Source Databases and Websites
Ancestry Library Edition
Ancestry® Library Edition, distributed exclusively by ProQuest and powered by Ancestry.com, delivers billions of records in census data, vital records, directories, photos, and more.
ArchiveGrid is a collection of nearly two million archival material descriptions, including MARC records from WorldCat and finding aids harvested from the web.
ARTSTOR Digital Library
Over 1.8 million high quality digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences. Images come from international museums, photographers, libraries, scholars, photo archives, artists and artists' estates.
Asia and the West: Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange
A range of primary source collections covering international relations between Asian countries and the West during the 19th century. Topics include British and U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy, Asian political, economic, and social affairs, the Philippine Insurrection, the Opium Wars, the Boxer Rebellion, and missionary activities in Asia.
This library contains over two hundred thousand free digital recordings ranging from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry readings, to original music uploaded by users.
Avalon Project - Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy
The Avalon Project hosts digital documents dating 400 BCE - Present, relevant to the fields of Law, History, Economics, Politics, Diplomacy and Government.They add value to the text by linking to supporting documents expressly referred to in the body of the text.
The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb
This collection focuses on the decision to drop the atomic bomb. It includes 76 documents totaling 632 pages covering the years 1945 through 1964.
Tracing London Convicts in Britain & Australia, 1780-1925. This website allows you to search millions of records from around fifty datasets, relating to the lives of 90,000 convicts from the Old Bailey.
FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. For over 100 years, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide.
The First World War
The First World War portal makes available invaluable primary sources for the study of the Great War, brought together in four thematic modules. From personal collections and rare printed material to military files, artwork and audio-visual files, content highlights the experiences of soldiers, civilians and governments on both sides of a conflict that shook the world.
A map of the world, where people have pinned photos, videos, audio clips and stories.
Old Maps Online
An easy-to-use gateway to historical maps in libraries around the world. Search by place or click on a map location You can also narrow by date.
Perseus Digital Library
Has a particular focus upon classics, but also early modern English, the American Civil War, the History and Topography of London, and more.
Popular Culture in Britain and America
Popular Culture explores social, political and cultural change between 1950-1975, through colour images of manuscript and rare printed material, as photographs, ephemera, memorabilia and video footage.
Provides access to free ebooks that were previousy published in print, but are now digitized. Both fiction and non-fiction books are available, coming from all periods in history and from all over the world. They are available in many languages, including English. Epub books, kindle books, and pdf versions can be downloaded for free.
Archives New Zealand
Find out about the 7 million archives created and used by the New Zealand Government, dating from around 1840 to the recent past. Some records are digitised and available online. If not, they’ll be held in one of the four archives in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch or Dunedin — or, in some cases, in an approved repository.
DigitalNZ brings together over 30 million digital items from over 200 different organisations all around Aotearoa. We aggregate New Zealand-related material so that it can be easily searched on one wesbsite. Our content partners include libraries, museums, galleries, government departments, media organisations, community groups, and many others.
Early New Zealand Books Collection
The Early New Zealand Books Collection aims to provide a complete online full-text and keyword-searchable corpus of books about New Zealand which were published in the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century.
The collection has been developed by staff at The University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.
New Zealand Electronic Text Collection
Significant New Zealand and Pacific Island texts and materials held by Victoria University of Wellington Library. Includes both digitized and born-digital material.
New Zealand Museums Online
NZ Museums showcases New Zealand's museums and galleries and their collections. It's also a directory of museums and galleries, and an online collection management system.
Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand Recollect Archive
These collections tell the story of the Presbyterian Church in Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s the story of a diverse range of people; Scottish settlers and Māori, missionaries and ministers, the families of Chinese goldminers and new New Zealanders from the Pacific and beyond. It’s a story of women and of young people and communities.
Australian Poetry Library
Provies access to a wide range of poetic texts and related material, including interviews, photographs and audio/visual recordings.
Australians at War
The service and sacrifice of Australia's veterans over the past 100 years, as seen through the eyes of those who served.
Pambu: Pacific Manuscripts Bureau
Archives, manuscripts and rare printed material relating to the Pacific Islands. Hocken collections are a member library, so we have access to full text digital collections (images and pdfs).
Take a trip through the past with the BBC archives and discover themed collections of radio and TV programmes, documents and photographs.
British History Online
British History Online is a collection of nearly 1300 volumes of primary and secondary content relating to British and Irish history, and histories of empire and the British world. BHO also provides access to 40,000 images and 10,000 tiles of historic maps of the British Isles.
British Library Online Gallery
Provides access to 30,000 images. Includes the ability to view virtual books with 'Turning the Pages', and to view online exhibitions and the highlights tour.
The CERL Portal provides access to distributed databases containing manuscripts materials, printed works, photographic material and other special materials.
Brings together a range of digital resources related to early modern and nineteenth century Britain with a single federated search that allows sophisticated searching of names, places and dates.
Defining Gender, 1450-1910
Original source material from British and European archives, including: ephemera, pamphlets, college records, exam papers, diaries, letters, ledgers, account books, illustrated writings on anatomy, midwifery, art and fashion, manuscript journals, poetry, novels, ballads, drama, receipt books, literary manuscripts, travel writing, conduct and advice literature.
Digital Library of Classic Protestant Texts
Principal protestant texts of the Reformation and post-Reformation eras. Includes biblical commentaries, catechisms, treatises, pastoral writings, sermons, church histories, disputations, and personal letters.
Digital Library of the Catholic Reformation
This collection includes hundreds of seminal works, including papal documents, synodal decrees, catechisms, confessors’ manuals, biblical commentaries, theological treatises, liturgical works, inquisitorial manuals, preaching guides, saints’ lives, and devotional literature. It represents the ideas and opinions that sparked and sustained Catholic reform in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Early English Books Online
Following its digital launch in 1998, Early English Books Online now contains page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America, as well as works in English printed elsewhere between 1473 and 1700.
Eighteenth Century Journals Portal
Digitised collections of rare journals covering all aspects of eighteenth-century social, political and literary life. Coverage ranges from 1693 and 1835. Topics include: colonial life; provincial and rural affairs; the French and American revolutions; reviews of literature and fashion; political debates; and London coffee house gossip and discussion.
A powerful and interactive collection of primary source documents, sourced from leading archives around the world. Material in the collection spans five centuries, charting the story of the rise and fall of empires; from the explorations of Columbus, Captain Cook, and others, right through to de-colonisation in the second half of the twentieth century and debates over American Imperialism.
Europeana works with thousands of European archives, libraries and museums to share cultural heritage for enjoyment, education and research.
Gale Artemis: Primary Sources
Cross-search: 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection, 19th Century British Newspapers, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Nineteenth Century Collections Online, the Making of Modern Law, and The Times Digital Archive.
Hansard 1803–2005 (UK Parliament)
Access to information from Hansard, the Official Report of debates in Parliament. More recent parliamentary publications are available from the Parliament Website.
National Portrait Gallery
The Gallery was founded in 1856 to collect portraits of famous British men and women. Explore over 175,000 portraits from the 16th Century to the present day.
Old Bailey Online
The proceedings of the Old Bailey criminal court between 1674 and 1913. A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court.
U.K. Parliamentary Papers
Full-text access to House of Commons sessional papers from 1715 to the present, with supplementary material back to 1660. View the list under Advanced Search to see the collections available to the Library.
Vision of Britain through Time
A Vision of Britain through Time brings together historical surveys of Britain to create a record of how the country and its localities have changed.
Asia for Educators
Primary sources from China, Japan, Korea, and South East Asia, with document-based questions for educators and students of all levels. An initiative by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University.
Birth of the Constitution of Japan
The National Diet Library's online exhibition "Birth of the Constitution of Japan" presents the major events and important documents involved in the framing and enactment of Japan's Constitution.
Mass education materials published in Hong Kong and in Mainland China, particularly Shanghai, in the years 1947-1954. These cartoon books, pamphlets, postcards and magazines, on topics such as foreign threats to Chinese security, Chinese relations with the Soviet Union, industrial and agricultural production, and marriage reform, were produced by both Kuomintang (Nationalist) and Gongchantang (Communist) supporters.
Chinese Rubbing Collection
The Fine Arts Library and Harvard-Yenching Library holds rubbings of objects that date from the Qin Dynasty (221–207 BCE) to the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 CE).
The East Asian Collection
Includes historical images that present a visual archive of 20th century East Asian cultural heritage. Currently, the collection consists of images that document early 20th century China including the the Sino-Japanese Conflict (1937-1945), a visual history of Buddhist practices and temples in China, and other images of daily life in both rural and urban China.
East Asian History Sourcebook
Contains information and primary sources on Buddhism, Confucianism, and the countries of East Asia throughout their history. The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of Fordham University, New York.
Japanese Historical Text Initiative
The Japanese Historical Text Initiative is a digitized, searchable database of important Japanese historical documents and their English translations.
Korean Literary Collection
Digital archive of works produced between 1945-1950 from the Korean collection of the University of Washington libraries. The closing of World War II on August 15, 1945 liberated Koreans from thirty-six years of Japanese occupancy. Koreans were overjoyed by their new freedom, but soon faced harsh reality.
Korean War Propaganda Leaflets
During the Korean War, propaganda pamphlets were airdropped over North Korea. This collection contains propaganda leaflets produced by the United States Army as well as leaflets produced by the communist forces in Korea.
The Nanking Massacre Project
On December 13, 1937 the Japanese Imperial Army invaded Nanking and the ensuing six weeks became known to history as the Nanking Massacre. This web site provides access to first hand accounts and photographs from Westerners who remained in Nanking after the Japanese invasion.
National Archives of Japan Digital Archive
The National Archives of Japan's Digital Archive provides access to the descriptions and digitized images of the historical records preserved by the National Archives of Japan.
North Korea International Documentation Project
The North Korea International Documentation Project serves as an informational clearinghouse on North Korea for the scholarly and policymaking communities, disseminating documents on the DPRK from its former communist allies that provide valuable insight into the actions and nature of the North Korean state.
Sir Robert Hart Collection: Diaries
Diaries of Sir Robert Hart, a British Consular official in China, covering 1854-1908. They were taken out of Hart's Peking office by a well-meaning colleague before it, his house and their contents were destroyed during the Boxer disturbances.
Database Search Tips PDF
Two page PDF detailing keyword and boolean search tips, Google Scholar boolean search tips, and reverse citation searching.
Electronic Access Help
If you have any queries about our electronic resources (databases, e-journals or e-books), please contact the library using the form on this web page.
The Interloan service enables library users to search for items, create requests for items not held in the University of Otago Library, and monitor the progress of those requests.
Search your paper code (HIST108) to find what high demand texts your lecturers have put on Reserve.
This video shows how to request a PDF scan of a book section or print journal from any Otago library.
University of Otago Databases
Hākena Heritage Collections
Hocken’s online archives, photographs and pictures catalogue. Hocken's collections celebrate the histories, cultures and natural environments of Aotearoa New Zealand, the Pacific and Antarctica with special emphasis on southern New Zealand.
Marsden Online Archive
An online archive of letters and journals by Reverend Samuel Marsden (1765-1838) as well as the papers of other early NZ missionaries.
Special Collections contains books and manuscripts which span the earliest examples of European printing (1473) through to modern first editions and publications from the 20th and 21st centuries.
Digital National Security Archive
Contains declassified government documents covering critical world events, countries, and U.S. policy decisions from post World War II through the 21st century.
Disability History Museum
Virtual artifacts, education curricula, and museum exhibits about the historical experiences of people with disabilities and their communities.
Library of Congress
The largest library in the world, with millions of books, art, recordings, photographs, maps, newspapers and manuscripts in its collections.
Shapell Manuscript Foundation
An extensive collection of digitised primary sources relating to American History, including the Civil War, American Presidents, etc.
Sideshow Ephemera Gallery
James G. Mundie's personal collection of sideshow and circus artifacts, includes pitchcard photographs, rare newspaper ads and other materials.
Akkasah Photographic Archive
The Akkasah photographic archive at NYU Abu Dhabi is drawn from around the Middle East and North Africa. We digitize, catalogue and preserve photographic collections and make them available for scholarly research and general consultation both online via this website and in person at the NYU campus in Abu Dhabi.
Bin Laden's Bookshelf
Documents recovered during the raid on the compound used to hide Usama bin Ladin. The release contains two sections: a list of non-classified, English-language material found in and around the compound; and a selection of now-declassified documents.
Internet Islamic History Sourcebook
Texts that document Islamic history. Topics include Islamic expansion and empire; the Ottomans; expansion to India, China and the East Indies; the western intrusion; and others. The Islamic History Sourcebook is part of the Internet History Sourcebooks Project, located at the History Department of Fordham University, New York.
Islamic Heritage Project
A digital collection of manuscripts, maps and printed texts from Harvard’s library and museum collections. IHP materials date from the 13th to the 20th centuries CE and represent many regions, languages and subjects. Harvard University Library.
Islamic Medical Manuscripts
Here you can learn about Islamic medicine and science during the Middle Ages and the important role it played in the history of Europe. A National Library of Medicine (US) government website.
Israel's Foreign Policy Historical Documents
Published by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, these are documents (official statements, press conferences, interview, letters, etc.) relating to Israel's foreign relations from 1947-2004.
Saddam Hussein Sourcebook: Declassified Secrets from the U.S.-Iraq Relationship
Brings together five briefing books previously published by the National Security Archive into one searchable file of primary sources. These include "Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction," "Eyes on Saddam," "Alleged Iraqi War Criminals in 1992," "Operation Desert Storm," and "Shaking Hands with Saddam: U.S. Policy before the Gulf War."
16th-20th Century Maps of Africa
This site features digital copies of 113 antique maps of Africa and accompanying text dating from the mid 16th Century to the early 20th Century.
Ancient Manuscripts from the Desert of Libraries Timbuktu
Dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries, the ancient manuscripts presented in this exhibition cover every aspect of human endeavor and are indicative of the high level of civilization attained by West Africans during the Middle Ages.
Genocide Archive - Rwanda
On this site you will find videos relating to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi enriched with synchronized transcripts, searchable index terms, and maps. Videos include testimonies of Genocide survivors and perpetrators.
Nuer Field Notes
The archive preserves and makes accessible a set of linguistic field notes recorded by Eleanor Vandevort, who was a missionary in the South Sudan between 1949 and 1963.
South African History Archive
The South African History Archive (SAHA) is an independent human rights archive dedicated to documenting, supporting and promoting greater awareness of past and contemporary struggles for justice through archival practices and outreach, and the utilisation of access to information laws.