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Freedom's Lawmakers: Black Leadership During Reconstruction

Resources to support participants in this summer institute for K-12 educators

Finding and Accessing Primary Sources

What are Primary Sources in History

Primary sources are the pieces of evidence that historians analyze and interpret to support their historical arguments.

Depending on your topic, almost any kind of material can be used as a primary source as long as it was created during the time period that you are researching or was created by someone who participated, as in the case of oral histories or memoirs.

World Cloud of Primary Source Examples 


Letters, Diaries, Scientific Data, Interviews, Photographs, Maps, Videos, Manuscripts, Newspapers, Speeches, Oral Histories, Artifacts, Government Documents, Art, Ephemera, Broadsides, Memoirs, Songs, and More!

For a brief overview of strategies for finding and accessing primary sources in history, visit the History Research guide:

Online Primary Source Collections

Provided through library subscriptions or other institutions, these collections offer a rich variety of primary sources related to the Reconstruction era.

Free Online Collections (Curated)
Free Online Collections (Searchable)
Subscription resources from UofSC