Analyzing Primary Sources
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HIS 6203: American Folklife  

Last Updated: Jan 30, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Primary Sources Print Page

Special Collections

Ingram LIbrary's Special Collections has a rich variety of primary sources that you can make use of. Find more info about Special Collections here: 

Special Collections at UWG

Primary Resource Databases and Websites

A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event. Some types of primary sources include:

  • ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS (excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records 
  • CREATIVE WORKS: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art 
  • RELICS OR ARTIFACTS: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings

--From Princeton's website "What is a Primary Source?"

  • African American Biographical Database (*ONLY AVAILABLE ON CAMPUS*)
    African American Biographical Database (AABD) brings together the biographies of thousands of African Americans, many not to be found in any other reference source. These biographical sketches (including photographs and illustrations) have been assembled from biographical dictionaries and other sources. AABD draws its initial content from Chadwyck-Healey's Black Biographical Dictionaries 1790-1950. The collection contains extended narratives of African American activists, business people, former slaves, performing artists, educators, lawyers, physicians, writers, church leaders, homemakers, religious workers, government workers, athletes, farmers, scientists, factory workers, and more--both the famous and the everyday person.
  • Alabama Folklife Collection
    This collection features a selection of images and audio recordings from the Archive of Alabama Folk Culture (AAFC). The AAFC was established in 2007 in order to house and make available the body of fieldwork gathered by the Alabama Folklife Association, The Alabama Center for Traditional Culture and the Folklife component of The Alabama State Council on the Arts, circa 1979 to the present. The AAFC continues to receive and process donations and collections from these agencies and private citizens throughout Alabama.
  • AMDocs
    Documents for the study of American history
  • American Folklife Center
  • American Memory Project
    The American Memory Project from the Library of Congress provides " and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience."
  • Ancestry Library Edition
    U.S. Census to 1930, Immigration, Social Security, and other Vital Records; U.K. Census Records
  • ArchiveGrid
    ArchiveGrid is a collection of nearly two million archival material descriptions, including MARC records from WorldCat and finding aids harvested from the web. It's supported by OCLC Research as the basis for experimentation and testing in text mining, data analysis, and discovery system applications and interfaces. Archival collections held by thousands of libraries, museums, historical societies, and archives are represented in ArchiveGrid. ArchiveGrid provides access to detailed archival collection descriptions for institutions in the United States, making information available about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and other archival materials. It also provides contact information for the institutions where the collections are kept.
  • Digital Traditions
    The Digital Traditions web site was developed to provide access to the Folklife Resource Center at McKissick Museum. For thirty years, deeply rooted traditions like quilting, pottery, basketry, communal foodways, and folk music have been documented through audio, video, and photography.
  • Documenting the American South
    Website from UNC-Chapel Hill, "... provides Internet access to texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture. Currently DocSouth includes sixteen thematic collections of books, diaries, posters, artifacts, letters, oral history interviews, and songs. "
  • Doris Duke Collection of Indian Oral History
  • Duke's Digital Collections
    Digitized historic photographs, advertisements, texts & more from Duke's unique library collections
  • Florida Memory Project
  • Folkstreams
    The site includes transcriptions, study and teaching guides, suggested readings, and links to related websites.
  • Historical Census Browser
    On this site you can examine state and county topics for individual census years (1790-1860), examine state and county topics over time and generate maps of selected data.
  • In the First Person
    The index contains approximately 20,500 months of diary entries, 63,000 letter entries, and 17,000 oral history entries.
  • Institute of Native American studies
  • Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection
    The collections of the Prints & Photographs Division include photographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings. While international in scope, the collections are particularly rich in materials produced in, or documenting the history of, the United States and the lives, interests and achievements of the American people.
  • Library of Congress's Veteran's History Project
  • Louisiana Folklife
  • National Archives list of links re: Indians/Native Americans
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Georgia 1867-1970
  • Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage: Land and Native American Cultures
  • Smithsonian Global Sound
    Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries, produced in partnership with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, is a virtual encyclopedia of the world's musical and aural traditions. Allows you to search by genre
  • Southeastern Native American Documents 1730-1842
    contains approximately 2,000 documents and images relating to the Native American population of the Southeastern United States
  • Southern Folklife Collections
  • StoryCorps
    Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 40,000 interviews from nearly 80,000 participants
  • The Human Ecology Collection
    Human ecology is an academic discipline that deals with the relationship between humans and their natural, social and created environments. Human ecology investigates how humans and human societies interact with nature and with their environment. The Human Ecology Collection brings together, in digital form, primary and secondary materials relating to human ecology
  • The New York Public Library's Digital Collections
    Digital Collections contains 694,337 items and counting. While that's a small fraction of the New York Public Library's overall holdings, the aim of Digital Collections is to provide context for the materials we have digitized and to inspire people to use and reuse the media and data on offer here to advance knowledge and create new works.

    Spanning a wide range of historical eras, geography, and media, NYPL Digital Collections offers drawings, illuminated manuscripts, maps, photographs, posters, prints, rare illustrated books, videos, audio, and more. Encompassing the subject strengths of the vast collections of The Library, these materials represent the applied sciences, fine and decorative arts, history, performing arts, and social sciences.
  • Witchcraft Collection
    Cornell University Library’s Witchcraft Collection is part of the Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. It contains more than 3,000 books, manuscripts, and related materials .An online selection of 104 English language books from the Witchcraft Collection is available to search, browse by title, or browse by author.
  • Women Working, 1800-1930
    This collection is comprised of over 650,000 individual pages from more than 3,100 books and trade catalogs, 900 archives and manuscript items, and 1,400 photographs. Women Working, 1800–1930 is a digital exploration of women's impact on the economic life of the United States between 1800 and the Great Depression. Working conditions, workplace regulations, home life, costs of living, commerce, recreation, health and hygiene, and social issues are among the issues documented in this online research collection from Harvard University.

Newspaper Databases (GA, National, International)

  • Newspaper Databases via GALILEO
  • Google News Archive
  • America's Historical Newspapers 1690-1922
    Hundreds of digitized newspapers published throughout the United States
  • Atlanta Constitution (1868 - 1939) at ProQuest
    The Atlanta Constitution (1868 - 1939) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue. Keyword: Newspapers.
  • Ethnic NewsWatch
    Coverage varies by title; generally 1987-present
  • LexisNexis Academic
    Major U.S. and World Publications, News Wire Services, TV and Radio Broadcasts
  • New York Times (1851 - 2004)
    The New York Times (1851-2004) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue.
  • Washington Post (1877 - 1991)
    The Washington Post (1877-1991) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue.
  • African-American Periodicals, 1825-1995
    African American Periodicals, 1825-1995 features more than 170 wide-ranging periodicals by and about African Americans
  • Georgia Newspapers Guide
  • Georgia Historic Newspapers
    The Georgia Historic Newspapers database is an outgrowth of the Georgia Newspaper Project managed by the University of Georgia Libraries. Since the early 1950s the UGA Libraries have made a systematic effort to identify and obtain copies of every newspaper ever published in Georgia and to preserve these valuable historical resources on microfilm. The goal of the Georgia Historic Newspapers database is to convert every Georgia newspaper to digital format and to make this resource available free of charge as a searchable text database.
  • Georgia Historic Newspaper Archive: Macon Telegraph 1826-1908
  • Georgia Historic Newspaper Archive: Milledgeville Newspapers 1808-1920
  • Georgia Historic Newspaper Archive: Southern Israelite 1929-1958; 1984-1986
    The Southern Israelite Archive includes issues from 1929-1958 and 1984-1986 of the newspaper that served as the voice of the Jewish community in Atlanta during those years
  • Chronicling America:
    Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present.
  • Newspaper Source
    Newspaper Source provides cover-to-cover full text for 35 national (U.S.) and international newspapers, including The Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Times (London), The Toronto Star, etc.
  • Atlanta Journal Constitution (older issues)
    Coverage Dates: 1990- Update Frequency: Daily The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) through the ProQuest National Newspaper collection provides online access to the AJC from 1990 to the present.
  • Columbus Enquirer Archive
    Coverage Dates: 1828-1890 The Columbus Enquirer Archive provides online access to early issues of the Columbus Enquirer ranging from its inception as a weekly newspaper in 1828, through the daily issues of the late nineteenth century. Consisting of over 30,000 newspaper pages, the archive provides historical images that are both full-text searchable and can be browsed by date.
  • Illustrated London News Historical Archive (1842-2003)
    The world's first fully illustrated weekly newspaper, the Illustrated London News Historical Archive includes high-quality color facsimile images that bring to life more than 150 years of social, political and cultural history for scholarly and enthusiast researchers. Areas covered include politics, social history, fashion, theatre, media, literature, advertising and graphic design, as well as genealogy.
  • NewsBank Access World News
    A comprehensive collection of global newspapers in full-text. This fully searchable resource features the vast majority of U.S. newspapers by circulation, along with almost one thousand hard-to-find local and regional titles. Additionally, Access World News offers searchable news video clips and over a thousand international news sources from scores of countries on six continents, translated into English.

Primary Sources--Georgia

  • African American Funeral Programs from the East Central Georgia Regional Library
    The African American Funeral Programs from the East Central Georgia Regional Library online collection consists of over one thousand funeral programs ranging from 1933 to 2008 (with the bulk of the collection beginning in the 1960s) from the Eula M. Ramsey Johnson Memorial Funeral Program Collection. A majority of the programs are from churches in Augusta, Georgia, and the surrounding area, with a few outliers in other states such as New York and Florida. The programs typically contain a photograph of the deceased, an obituary, a list of surviving relatives, and the order of service. The collection provides extensive genealogical information about the deceased, including birth and death dates, maiden names, names of relatives, past residences, and place of burial.
  • Annual Reports of the Mayor of Savannah, Georgia, 1855-1917
    The Annual Reports of the Mayor of Savannah, Georgia, 1855-1917 include information on city activities and finances, commercial statistics, health, death, and illness statistics, and information on trade, public schools, weather, charitable institutions and city ordinances. The documents also include reports of the City Attorney, the Police Department (including crime statistics), the City Engineer, the Fire Department (including statistics on fires and property losses), and the Board of Trade, among others. The Annual Reports of the Mayor of Savannah, 1855-1917 are from the collections of the University of Georgia Libraries and were microfilmed in 1995 as part of the SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Microfilming Project (NEH PS-20317). The images presented here were scanned from microfilm. This site currently contains only the holdings available on microfilm, but additional dates may be added in the future.
  • Atlanta History Center Collections
    Search Terminus to see what resources resides in the Atlanta History Center!
  • Auburn Avenue Research Library Finding Aids
    Update Frequency: in process Audience: General, research, student The Auburn Avenue Research Library Finding Aids database consists of guides to archival and manuscript collections held by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History, a special library of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. The library's primary source materials document the experiences of African-Americans in Atlanta, the Southeastern region, and throughout the nation.
  • Barnard's Photographic Views of the Sherman Campaign, 1866
    Barnard's Photographic Views of the Sherman Campaign Barnard's Photographic Views of the Sherman Campaign, 1866 contains images of the 61 albumen prints found in early American photographer and member of the Matthew Brady studio, George N. Barnard's 1866 Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign. Barnard was the official photographer for the United States Army, Chief Engineer's Office, Division of the Mississippi and accompanied Sherman's Army during the "March to the Sea" in November and December, 1864 In 1866 he returned to the South to continue documenting the war and its effects. Subjects of the photographs include Sherman and his generals, Nashville, Chattanooga Valley, Atlanta, and Savannah. The images were digitized from an 1866 Wynkoop & Hallenbeck edition owned by the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia.
  • Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868 Collection
    The Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868 collection, located at the DeSoto Trail Library and comprised of photostatic copies from the Freedman's Bureau records held by the National Archives, consists of letters, affidavits, reports and a newspaper clipping relating to a violent episode in Camilla, Georgia. The incident occurred on September 19, 1868 when freedmen, together with Republicans W.P. Pierce, John Murphy and F.F. Putney attempted to hold a political rally, and were met with opposition from the white townspeople of Camilla. The dates of the documents largely span from September 19 through October of 1868 and include correspondence between Caleb Chase Sibley, assistant commissioner for the Freedmen
  • Community Art in Atlanta, 1977-1987: Jim Alexander's Photographs of the Neighborhood Arts Center from the Auburn Avenue Research Library
    Coverage Dates: 1970-1982 Update Frequency: in process Community Art in Atlanta, 1977-1987 consists of fifty-five documentary photographs of the Neighborhood Arts Center (1975-1989) that capture significant African American-centered cultural and community events in and around the Atlanta-based organization, a brainchild of the late mayor Maynard Jackson. This body of images documents a visit to the Center from the legendary Romare Bearden, as well as Atlanta-area outreach projects, arts festivals, and social demonstrations that took place during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Taken by photographer, community activist, and Neighborhood Arts Center staff member Jim Alexander, these photographs demonstrate the Center's service commitment and its promotion of urban community arts. The site also contains a biography of Alexander, a brief history and chronology of the Neighborhood Arts Center, suggested readings, and a list of related links.
  • Digital Library of Georgia
    The Digital Library of Georgia is a gateway to Georgia's history and culture found in digitized books, manuscripts, photographs, government documents, newspapers, maps, audio, video, and other resources. Many of the materials are from the holdings of GALILEO member institutions, and the Digital Library of Georgia continues to grow through its partnerships with libraries, archives, museums, government agencies, and allied organizations across the state. To search or browse the holdings of the Digital Library of Georgia, visit the DLG homepage at: A complete listing of digital collections available through the DLG is at:
  • For Our Mutual Benefit: The Athens Woman's Club and Social Reform, 1899-1920
    For Our Mutual Benefit consists of two minute books, covering the years 1899-1920, from the Athens Woman's Club collection housed in the Heritage Room of the Athens-Clarke County Library. The minutes provide a detailed record of the educational, social, philanthropic and reform activities of the Athens Woman's Club during the height of the Progressive Era and document the relationships between the Athens Woman's Club and various other organizations of local, state and national significance such as the Georgia Federation of Women's Clubs and the General Federation of Women's Clubs. The materials help shed light on the complexity of southern progressivism, with particular regard to the social and political issues surrounding the regulation of child labor, the enforcement of compulsory school attendance and the passage of a woman's suffrage amendment.
  • Georgia Aerial Photographs
    The Georgia Aerial Photographs database provides online access to approximately 50,000 black and white aerial photographs and indexes of selected counties from the State of Georgia.
  • Georgia Department of Archives & History
    The Georgia Department of Archives and History maintains a web site of information on its organization, collections, and services. The mission of the Georgia Department of Archives and History is to identify, select, preserve, and ensure the accessibility of government and other information constituting Georgia's recorded history, including the official records of Georgia from 1732 to the present. In addition, it collects private manuscripts and photographs which complement existing archival holdings. Links to online publications, finding aids, and other web sites related to Georgia history and genealogy are provided.
  • Georgia Legislative Documents 1755-
  • Georgia Official and Statistical Register: "Georgia's Blue Book"
    The Georgia Official and Statistical Register, published from 1923-1990 by the Georgia Department of Archives and History, is commonly known as the Georgia Blue Book. Considered an important reference work for historical research, the Register covers Georgia's executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, providing biographical sketches of elected and other state officials. Georgia members of U.S. Congress and federal judges are included, as are county officials and regents of the university system. The Blue Books contain election returns, provide basic reference data on Georgia counties, and cover Georgia miscellany, such as the state flag, state flower, state song, rosters of Georgia governors, and legal holidays.
  • Georgia State Fair, Macon, 1886-1960
    The Georgia State Fair, Macon, 1886-1960 online collection consists of 151 black-and-white photographs, and four advertising fliers, from the Georgia State Fair records held by the Middle Georgia Archives at the Macon-Bibb County Public Libraries. These photographs document the evolution of the state fair in Macon from 1886 until 1960. A group portrait of the executive committee of the Georgia State Agricultural Society is the earliest piece in the collection. The majority of the photographs depict county agricultural exhibits whose function was to promote a variety of farm produce and homemade items.
  • Georgia's Virtual Vault
    provides virtual access to historic Georgia manuscripts, photographs, maps, and government records housed in the state archives.
  • High Museum Folk Art Collection
  • Historic Architecture and Landscapes of Georgia: The Hubert Bond Owens and John Linley Image Collections at the Owens Library
    a joint project between the College of Environment and Design, University of Georgia and the Digital Library of Georgia, contains approximately 1500 images of important and representative architectural sites and landscapes in the state with an emphasis on Athens and Middle Georgia. The collections, held at the Owens Library in the College of Environment and Design at the University of Georgia, consist of color slides and black and white photographs taken from the 1940s through the 1980s
  • Joseph Henry Lumpkin Family Papers
    The digitized selections from the Joseph Henry Lumpkin Family Papers consist of letters dated 1850-1861 (the bulk of which are from 1852-1856) to Callie Lumpkin King, wife of Alabama lawyer and plantation owner Porter King and daughter of Joseph Henry Lumpkin. Correspondents include Sallie (Baxter) Bird, wife of Hancock County plantation-owner Edgeworth Bird; King's husband Porter; Thomas Read Rootes Cobb, her brother-in-law; and other Lumpkin family members. The letters touch on family life, local and national politics, marriage, and the social life in Athens, Georgia. Eventually, the site will include images and transcribed text for the Alexander Campbell King Law Library, University of Georgia School of Law's collection of Joseph Henry Lumpkin Family Papers collection on deposit at the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.
  • Robert E. Williams Photographic Collection: African-Americans in the Augusta, Ga. Vicinity (Richmond Co.), circa 1872-1898
    Robert E. Williams Photographic Collection: African-Americans in the Augusta, Ga. Vicinity (Richmond Co.) consists of 86 glass plate negatives and positive prints of African-Americans in the Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia area. Robert E. Williams, an African-American photographer, operated a studio, R. Williams and Son, in Augusta, Georgia, from 1888 until around 1908. The photographs depict dwellings and domestic chores, rituals of baptism, harvesting and transporting cotton, vehicles and transportation, and children and family life. Eighty-four of the images are presented online, as two of the negatives are copies
  • Robert Toombs, Letters to Julia Ann DuBose Toombs, 1850-1867
    Robert Toombs, Letters to Julia Ann DuBose Toombs consists of correspondence from Robert Toombs to his wife, Julia Ann DuBose Toombs in Washington, Wilkes County, Georgia from 1850-1867. During 1850-1859 his letters come from Washington, D.C. while he served in the U.S. Senate. During the Civil War, he wrote from Virginia (1862) and Atlanta, Georgia (1864). Following the war, letters are written from Paris (1866-67) while he was in exile. The correspondence generally discusses current events; his land holdings in South Georgia, Alabama, and Texas; people; other soldiers; and his wish to be with his wife and family.
  • Samuel Hugh Hawkins Diary, January - July 1877
    The Samuel Hugh Hawkins Diary, January - July 1877, donated by Georgia State Senator George Hooks to the Lake Blackshear Regional Library System, chronicles Americus, Georgia entrepreneur, lawyer, and banker Samuel Hawkins' financial, agricultural, civic, and religious activities in Sumter County during the final months of Reconstruction.
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Georgia 1867-1970
  • Southeastern Native American Documents 1730-1842
    contains approximately 2,000 documents and images relating to the Native American population of the Southeastern United States
  • Vanishing Georgia
    Nearly 18,000 historic photographs from private collections
  • War of 1812: Diplomacy on the High Seas
    A collection of documents from the National Archives and the U.S. Department of State Library dealing with private armed vessels used during the War of 1812. Documents include correspondence concerning letters of marque for privateers, agreements for the exchange of prisoners of war, passenger lists of vessels sailing from the U.S., and intercepted correspondence. An Archives Unbound database. Coverage: 1814 (with some documents from 1789-1807).
  • Women's Issues and Their Advocacy Within the White House, 1974-1977
    The progression of women’s rights through documents presented to President Ford from The Special Assistant to the President for Women. Meeting minutes, briefing papers, correspondence, talking points, speeches, news clippings, etc. An Archives Unbound database. Coverage: 1974-1977.

Where else can I go to find primary sources?

This libguide has a number of primary source collections that you can search through, but you might be examining a place/time/culture outside of what is included in that list. 

A few places to check: 

  • Is there a historical society or a history center related to the area you are researching? Ex: Atlanta History Center, East Tennessee Historical Society
  • Can you find online collections (usually of digitized photos or maps) or an online catalog of physical collections? 
  • Are you willing to travel? Most of these places are open to the public, and have resources that can be vital to your work. 

Finding Magazines

Older magazines are great primary sources but finding them can be tricky. You might have to use both PRINT and ONLINE indexes to be successful.

In PRINT we have Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature.

  • Reference/Periodicals Area on the Ground floor: AI3 .R48
  • We have 1900 -
  • You need to look up year-by-year (yes, this is tedious)
  • THEN check the library catalog to see if we have the magazine in print for those dates
  • This is where you'll find when Time, Newsweek, Life, Ladies Home Journal published about a specific topic

The following online indexes and databases are linked from here:

American Periodicals

  • Contains articles published 1740-1900
  • Defaults to full text search but you might want to change it to "citation and abstract"

Periodicals Archives Online

  • Contains articles from the 17th century - 2000
  • Includes both academic and popular sources
  • You can only search the article title or journal title -- no full text searching!
  • A search for midwive* or midwife* yields 100 results, 19 of which are from before 1950



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