Friday, April 07, 2017

Is this George Washington's handwriting?

If your instructors ask you to use primary sources in your research projects, it means that you should find original documents created during the time period you are studying.

Where to find them?

Thanks to ambitious digitization projects, many historical archives are now available online! Check out American Memory, created by the Library of Congress.

The American Memory site is a very large and sophisticated collection of historical documents -- a digital record of American history. It contains audio recordings, images, manuscripts, maps, and videos that chronicle historic events, places, and people. You can browse by U.S. regions, cities, and time periods; as well as by topics such as immigration, African American history, technology, culture, or sports. Read handwritten documents by American presidents, look through dance instruction manuals from centuries ago, or take a look at examples of newspaper ads published in the 1920s.

The American Memory project started more than 20 years ago, and the collection is constantly expanding: it contains more than 9 million digitized documents.

Primary sources are also available on other public and Government sites. The National Archives and Records Administration, the agency that digitizes U.S. Government archival materials, contains more than 12 billion pages of unique documents!

If you want to learn more about working with historical documents, attend one of the Library's Primary Sources workshops or ask a librarian next time you are in the campus library.

Review by Svetlana Kondratenko, SWC Librarian 

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