Skip to Main Content

HU 3900: Nationalisms in Asia

Need Help? Ask Us!

This service is staffed by WPI librarians and staff. If the chat is not available, please feel free to email us at or you can make an appointment with a librarian at 

Finding Primary Sources

Primary sources are materials that provide firsthand testimony to a subject under investigation. Researchers often use these firsthand accounts of specific events to understand events from the viewpoint of people living during that time period. Primary sources include documents and artifacts from the time period under study, such as letters, diaries, photographs, newspaper articles, pamphlets, government records, songs, poems, and videos. Primary sources also include writings and recordings by witnesses who experienced the events or conditions being documented. For example, oral histories, autobiographies, and memoirs are primary sources.

Library Databases with Primary Sources

Examples of Websites with Primary Sources

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

Here are some examples of websites that can help you find primary sources:


Search the Library of Congress: Digital Collections to find primary sources. Here are some examples of the collections available online from the Library of Congress: 


The Internet History Sourcebooks Project from Fordham University is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts. Browse by time period or geographic region.


Launched in 2009, the World Digital Library (WDL) was a project of the U.S. Library of Congress, with the support of UNESCO, and contributions from libraries, archives, museums, educational institutions, and international organizations around the world. The WDL sought to preserve and share some of the world’s most important cultural objects, increasing access to cultural treasures and significant historical documents to enable discovery, scholarship, and use. 

Primary Sources: Books at WPI

Sometimes collections of primary source documents are republished in books. Here are some strategies for finding books like these:

  • Search WPI Library Search for books about your topic and add keywords like journals, papers, letters, documents, photographs, primary sources, documentary history, or sourcebook to your search terms.

Here are some examples of books containing primary sources: