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HI 2332: History of Modern American Science and Technology: Primary Sources

Primary Sources

Researchers often use firsthand accounts of specific events, or direct investigations to understand events from the viewpoint of people living during that time period. Primary materials can be diaries, news stories from that time period, personal journals, interviews, oral histories, letters, manuscripts, and a variety of visual documents such as photogrpahs and maps. For popular reaction to events/issues, try searching the Letters to the Editor in a newspaper such as the New York Times.

New York Times Historical

Primary Sources: Examples of Helpful Websites

To find primary sources via Google, try adding keywords like journals, papers, letters, documents, primary sources, or documentary history to your search terms. Primary sources can often be found on library, museum, and government websites. 

Primary Sources: Books at WPI

Many primary source documents are republished in books, or even referenced within books on historical topics. To find these books, search WPI Library Search for books about your topic and add keywords like journals, papers, letters, documents, or documentary history to your search terms. 

Video Databases & Websites

WPI Archives

The Gordon Library Archives are a great resource for primary sources. To learn more about the Archives' collections or to schedule a visit to the Archives, please call 508-831-6112 or e-mail

The WPI Archives and Special Collections Department

Richard T. Whitcomb Collection

Richard T. Whitcomb, WPI Class of 1943, was an engineer for NASA for over thirty years and invented airplane designs to allow planes to fly farther and faster. He is best known for the Area Rule, Supercritical Wing, and Winglets. Connect to the Whitcomb finding aid for details about the contents of this new manuscript collection in the WPI Archives. To learn more about the Archives and Special Collections department at WPI or to schedule an appointment to visit the archives, email