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English: Using Primary Sources

Digital Public Library of America or DPLA

The Digital Public Library of America brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world. It strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science. 

Citing Digital Primary Sources

Citing digital primary sources can be challenging, as the particulars of the citation will depend not only on where you accessed the material, but also on what kind of material it is. In general, it is a good idea to collect as much citation information as you can (URL, page number if available, access date, dates on the original document, database name and publisher).


Advice and formats for citing digital archives:

 From the Purdue University Online Writing Lab
 Citing Archival Resources
 Digital Archives Materials

Books Available Online

These online collections include digital versions of many out-of-copyright works including government documents, historical magazines and other periodicals, and books published before 1923.

  • GoogleBooks
    Full-text collection includes books in the public domain. Includes only snippets of books still under copyright unless otherwise specified by author or publisher. Also includes magazines and periodicals.

  • HathiTrust
    Multi-university-library digital library, draws on GoogleBooks' digitization project. GSU is not a member library, so downloading not possible, but generally full-text viewing is.

  • Internet Archive
    Digital library, includes texts as well as moving images, live music, audio.

  • Project Gutenberg
    Digital copies of books whose copyrights have expired.

  • Center for Research Libraries Digital Collections
    Wide-ranging collection of digitized resources. Search the CRL's catalog, or browse the collection.

Keyword Tip

Do a keyword search on your topic and add a special term as another keyword, such as

photographs    ​

Primary Source Collections at Iona

Library of Congress

Library of Congress Digital Collections & Services
Access to print, pictorial and audio-visual collections and other digital services

Using Primary Sources -- Library of Congress

Finding Primary Sources

Looking for Library of Congress primary sources? Try these quick starting points:

Primary Source Sets – Each set collects primary sources on a specific topic, all as easy-to-use PDFs, with historical background information and teaching ideas.

Primary Sources by State - Selected primary sources for each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories.

Browse by Topic - Easy browsing for primary sources across all the digital collections of the Library of Congress.

Web Guides - In-depth guides to resources on a wide variety of topics.

The following reputable sites link to thousands of primary sources.

The Printed Ephemera collection at the Library of Congress is a rich repository of Americana. The collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history. there are a significant number of leaflets and some pamphlets, besides the broadsides. The collection includes proclamations, advertisements, blank forms, programs, election tickets, catalogs, clippings, timetables, and menus. They capture the everyday activities of ordinary people who participated in the events of nation-building and experienced the growth of the nation from the American Revolution through the Industrial Revolution up to present day.