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
The Robert A. Foisie School of Business is sponsoring free access for everyone with a WPI email address to NYTimes.com for the 2017-18 academic year. This service will provide you with an e-subscription to The New York Times to stay connected with the events of the day. In addition, you will have access to the extensive NYT database dating back to 1851 – a tremendous research tool.
To set up your account, go to:
http://www.accessnyt.com/ (If on campus or otherwise within the WPI IP range)
http://ezproxy.wpi.edu/login?url=http://ezmyaccount.nytimes.com/grouppass/redir (If off campus and outside the WPI IP range)
Once you have activated your account you can log in no matter where you are at https://www.nytimes.com/.
You can also access New York Times articles from 1851 to 2013 via the New York Times Historical database from ProQuest:
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.
Many primary source documents are republished in books, or even referenced within books on historical topics. To find these books, search Summon for books about your topic and add keywords like journals, papers, letters, documents, primary sources, or documentary history to your search terms.