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HIST200: Research Gateway

This main purpose of this web guide is to suggest digital repositories of primary sources to use for your research project in History 200. I've also included suggestions and reminders about other ways to obtain primary sources at Augustana.

Digital Repositories - Other Primary Sources - Questions?

Digital Repositories

Some digital repositories are linked on the library's "History, Philosophy, and Religion" subject page:

Library --> Databases --> History, Religion, and Philosophy --> Websites

American MemoryChronicling America, and Making of America are all likely to be useful for this project.

Other digital primary source collections you may find useful are here:

Digital Public Library of America
A great resource with a bold vision: "The Digital Public Library of America brings together the riches of America's libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world."

CARLI Digital Collections
Digital primary sources provided by the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois, of which Augustana is a member.

Special Collections Digital Projects
From Augustana's special collections. Links to an assortment of digitized primary sources, many of which are from the Midwest.

Midwest Regional Collections
From the University Libraries of the University of Washington. This page links digitized collections of primary sources from throughout the Midwest. (Many of the linked collections are free on the Web, but you may find a few that are not.)

Library of Congress Primary Sources by State
Click on a state to see relevant primary sources held by the Library of Congress.

Pioneering the Upper Midwest
From the Library of Congress. "Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910 portrays the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century through first-person accounts, biographies, promotional literature, local histories, ethnographic and antiquarian texts, colonial archival documents, and other works drawn from the Library of Congress's General Collections and Rare Books and Special Collections Division."

To find additional digital repositories on your own . . .

. . . I recommend using Google's advanced search, which allows you to be very precise about what you want. In the search box labeled "any of these words," I would type this: "primary sources" documents. That tells the search to find eitherthe word documents or the phrase "primary sources." Type your topic in the top box. You might also narrow to a domain further down on the page; .edu, .gov, and/or .org are most likely to contain reliable primary source archives.

Before you select a document, or even start to browse an archive you've found, ascertain whether you trust the archive to provide high-quality primary source documents. Specifically, be sure you know what institution is providing the archive. Colleges and universities, the U.S. government, historical societies, libraries, and museums are most likely to be reliable. Click the "About" link to find this information.

Other Primary Sources

Remember that you might also find primary sources via the library's databases or book collection.

Search ALiCat and I-Share to find primary sources in books. Two methods I suggest:

  • To find a collection of primary sources on a topic, go to the Advanced Search screen and add the word "sources" to your search as a subject. (It helps if the topic you are searching is relatively broad.) This works because the subject headings in ALiCat & I-Share use the word "sources" whenever the book in question includes primary sources.
  • If you need the work of a major historical figure, you may find an entire book by the person in question. Search the person as an author, or search the title of the book you want. Note that the library has the public papers of each president from Washington through Clinton.

Browse the library's primary source databases for additional possibilities:

Library --> Databases --> History, Religion, and Philosophy --> History --> Primary Source Databases

The databases most likely to be useful for this project include American Periodicals Series and the Chicago Tribune archive.


I'm always happy to talk to history students about their research. My email address is, and I work at the research help desk off and on throughout the week.

You can also approach any Augustana librarian for help at the research help desk: in-person, or by phone (309-794-7206), email (, or the red "Ask an Augie librarian" box on every library webpage.

Finally, you may request an in-depth research appointment with an Augustana librarian here (scroll down to find the online form).

Page created by Stefanie Bluemle, librarian for history, religion, and philosophy. Updated December 2015.