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Overview of Cornell Libraries: Primary Sources

Useful Tips

Using primary sources on the web.

Browse footnotes and bibliographies of books, encyclopedias, and articles for information about primary sources. 

Search the Library Catalog for primary sources--both unpublished manuscripts and modern editions in print and online, sometimes in translation, of original primary medieval sources. Use keyword search with terms like:

sources
diaries
personal narrative
interview
letters

Online Collections

Black Abolitionist Papers This primary source collection presents the international impact of African American activism against slavery, in the writings and publications of the activists themselves. Covering the period 1830-1865, the approximately 15,000 articles, documents, correspondence, proceedings, manuscripts, and literary works of almost 300 Black abolitionists show the full range of their activities in the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Germany.

Slavery & Anti-slavery: A Transnational  Archive Slavery and Anti-Slavery includes collections on the transatlantic slave trade, the global movement for the abolition of slavery, the legal, personal, and economic aspects of the slavery system, and the dynamics of emancipation in the U.S. as well as in Latin America, the Caribbean, and other regions.

American Memory Digital collections at the Library of Congress

Making of Ameica  Digitized 19th century books and periodicals.

North American Women's Letters and Diaries: Colonial to 1950 

 Hathi Trust Digital Library Allows searching full text of recent copyrighted materials as well as pdfs of older public domain works.

Cornell's Archives

Kroch Library, The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (RMC), is open Monday-Friday (and selected Saturdays). Please consult the CU Library's website for specific hours. For a listing of archival (special) collections visit Guides for Archival & Manuscript Collections.

Selected Collections related to your class:
Samuel J. May Anti Slavery Collection (online)
Anti-Slavery Collection
Civil War Collection
African American Studies
Human Sexuality Collection

If you are planning a research visit to RMC, it is recommend that you request the material(s) two weeks prior. To start, click Register & Request Items and follow the directions. For more information, please consult information for visitors.

Historical Magazines & Periodicals

International Women's Periodicals Full text of some of the most significant yet rare women’s periodicals produced from the middle of the nineteenth century through the 1920s.

19th century masterfile  19th century periodical literature.

Readers' guide retrospective. A database containing comprehensive indexing of the most popular general-interest periodicals published in the United States. The complete database covers the years 1890 through 1982. Does not include full text. Use "Get it Cornell" links to find the periodical.

American Periodical Series/APS online.  1740 and 1900, including special interest and general magazines, literary and professional journals, children’s and women’s magazines, and many other historically-significant periodicals.

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