Some of you may have students who are already thinking about primary sources for their History Day projects. But even if that step is far in the future for you and your students, it’s not a bad idea to start compiling a list of reliable websites where students can access some excellent primary sources. Of course, we always encourage students to get their hands on actual primary sources at libraries and archives, but the Internet is becoming a better and better resource for young researchers.
Here are a few sites that have some excellent primary sources available:
Library of Congress American Memory: Encourage your students to narrow the field as much as possible by choosing specific collections. The Teachers’ section of this website also has some excellent, subject-sorted sources.
National Archives History Day Resources: The Archives assembled some of their sources related to particular Innovation topics, as well as connections to other topics within the subject areas.
Harvard University Library Open Collections: Harvard has collected some intriguing sources based on four different topics — Women and Work, Immigration, Diseases and Epidemics, and Expeditions and Discoveries. Women Working is particularly helpful.
Yale Law School Avalon Project: The documents from Yale Law span several thousand years, although more are available in recent centuries. The topics are mainly law and diplomacy.
Famous Trials: A law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City has assembled documents and context about more than 50 famous trials, from the Trial of Socrates to the Trial of Zacarias Moussaoui.
American Journeys: This collection contains thousands of documents related to the exploration of America, from 1000 to 1844, including the journals of Lewis and Clark.
There are many more fantastic websites with extensive primary sources, but these are a few reliable sites with vast holdings. If you encounter others, feel free to pass along the tip!