Librarian: Ramirose Attebury
Phone: (208) 885-2503
Research Assistance Program
In the discipline of history Primary Sources are items that were created during the time period under study. They allow researchers to get as close to their object of study as possible in spite of the passage of time. These items might be documents, news stories, letters, diaries, interviews, artifacts, government publications, photographs, or recordings. *The definition of primary source differs in other disciplines, so check with your instructor for specific details.*
In addition to the original items, digital versions of original items or reprints of original items are also considered primary sources.
The University of Idaho Library has undertaken several major digitization projects in the past few years. Collections significant to Idaho or the university are now available electronically from the library’s website. Expand the list below or visit the Digital Collections website for more information.
A collaboration between the Library, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and the University of Idaho Extension system, the Ag/Extension Collection features hundreds of bulletins published from the turn of the century to the present that cover topics pertaining to agriculture, farming, forestry, home economics, horticulture, and other issues pertaining to Idaho and its citizens.
The Barnard-Stockbridge Collection exhibits over 1000 photographs, selected from over 200,000 nitrocellulose and glass plate negatives, taken by Nellie Stockbridge and T. N. Barnard during the years 1894-1964. The photos depict various aspects of life in the Wallace/Kellogg mining area.
Digitized photographs pertaining to the Columbia Basin Project. Special emphasis is placed on the construction of Grand Coulee Dam, the canal systems of Central Washington, and numerous other dams in the Inland Northwest.
Digitized photographs and documents pertaining to the planning, development and construction of the Dworshak Dam, featuring documents and photographs detailing both the legislative and physical development of the dam.
A collection of photographs by Robert E. Higgins, a professor of plant science at the University of Idaho from 1946 to 1999. During his lifetime, Professor Higgins’ photographs were accepted in over 70 juried international salons, and he had one-artist exhibitions in Idaho, Washington, and California. To see the photos on flickr, click here.
A small collection of large maps that depict the Coeur D'Alene mining region, covering areas of Montana and Idaho (Shoshone County). These maps come from the Bunker Hill Mining Company Records, 1887-1984, a manuscript collection described here. To see one of these maps on Google Earth click here.
The International Jazz Collections was formally established at the University of Idaho in 2000, featuring papers and photographs of the legendary Lionel Hampton. The IJC merged into the Special Collections & Archives of the UI Library in 2007, and is now the preeminent jazz archive in the Pacific Northwest.
Edward John Iddings was the Dean of the College of Agriculture at UI from 1915 to 1946. These slides depict agricultural and university-related scenes from Idaho, as well as images from Iddings' travels.
The Kooskia Internment Camp Scrapbook documents the sights, tasks, scenes, and events of Japanese men detained during the camp's two years or operation (May 1943 - May 1945). The camp was located in a remote area of north central Idaho, 30 miles from the town of Kooskia; it was administered by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for the U.S. Department of Justice.
The images of the Kyle Laughlin Photograph Collection, taken from 1931 to 1979, depict Idaho's natural scenery and historic sites, as well as personal moments from Kyle Laughlin's life. Laughlin was a Moscow, Idaho resident and businessman for 56 years; he owned several businesses, including a photo shop, an appliance store, and a television/cable company.
Lewiston Orchards Life was a newsletter published in Lewiston, Idaho during the early 1900s. The newsletter covers the residential and horticultural lives of those living in the Lewiston Orchards area, which is now a residential neighborhood.
The Family Tree was a newsletter published by Potlatch Forests, Inc. for their employees from 1936 - 1952. The newsletter covers local (Potlatch area) and national events, with a special focus on issues pertaining to Potlatch Forests and its loggers and other employees.
A collection of photographs from the University of Idaho Historical Photographs Collection commemorating the 100th anniversary of President's Roosevelt's historic visit to the University of Idaho campus in 1911.
Scrapbooks compiled by Senator William Edgar Borah (1865 - 1940) pertaining to his life and achievements as United States Senator.
Charles Houston Shattuck was a professor in the College of Natural Resources who initiated "Arboretum Hill" (now known as the Charles Houston Shattuck Arboretum). These early twentieth century slides depict the University of Idaho, as well as the wilderness of Idaho and Idaho residents' attempts at domesticating it.
A variety of photographs from several photographic collections held by Special Collections & Archives that depict scenes from the University of Idaho's past. Includes portraits of past professors and alumni, as well as photos of buildings and events.
A collection of Idaho Supreme Court briefs, transcripts and other documents from January 2010 to the present.
The Idaho Historical Aerial Photographs are a collection of both oblique and vertical historic air photos ranging from 1927 to the 1980s. The project is in progress and new images are added monthly. Some of these photos can be accessed via INSIDE IDAHO's online map application as well.
Many other institutions have digital collections available. Here is a list of collections that have been favorably reviewed in library journals in the past two years. To find others related to your specific topic, try doing a Google search for your topic and the words “digital collection.”
America at War, 1941-1945
Digitized (text only, not scanned) issues of Army Talks, the newsletter published by the U.S. Army's Orientation Branch for its forces in the European Theatre of Operations and the G.I. Roundtable pamphlet series, designed to educate American military personnel about the reasons they were fighting, the nature of their enemies and their allies and what shape the postwar world would take.
Emergence of Advertising in America
A database of over 9,000 advertising items and publications dating from 1850 to 1920, illustrating the rise of consumer culture and the birth of a professionalized advertising industry in the United States.
The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the America Civil War
Primary source documents from Augusta County, VA and Franklin County, PA that detail life in the two communities in years surrounding the Civil War.
1950s to present
Duke Collection of American Indian Oral History
Oral histories collected from 1967-1972 from hundreds of Oklahoma Indians about all aspects of their lives.
Expeditions & Discoveries: Sponsored Exploration and Scientific Discovery in the Modern Age
Multidisciplinary records of 19th and 20th century expeditions sponsored by Harvard.
A repository of government movies in the public domain. Nearly 1000 video files from all aspects of U.S. history. Sponsored by the National Technical Information Service and the non-profit open government organization Public.Resource.Org
The Living Room Candidate
The Living Room Candidate contains more than 300 commercials, from every presidential election since 1952, when Madison Avenue advertising executive Rosser Reeves convinced Dwight Eisenhower that short ads played during such popular TV programs as I Love Lucy would reach more voters than any other form of advertising. This innovation had a permanent effect on the way presidential campaigns are run.
Making of History 1989: Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe
Funded by a NEH grant and created by George Mason University, this site includes primary sources, scholar interviews, and teaching modules related to the end of communist rule in 1989.
The Psychedelic 60's: Literary Tradition and Social Change
An online exhibit hosted by the Special Collections Department of the University of Virginia library. It includes primary source documents from the time, with explanatory text. Some items are pop culture oriented, most notably concert posters, rock handbills, book covers, and the like.
The Supreme Court Database
Information about United States Supreme Court decisions from 1953-2008.
Discovering American Women’s History Online This database provides access to digital collections of primary sources (photos, letters, diaries, artifacts, etc.) that document the history of women in the United States. These diverse collections range from Ancestral Pueblo pottery to interviews with women engineers from the 1970s.
European History Primary Sources Welcome to European History Primary Sources (EHPS), an index of scholarly websites that offer online access to digitised primary sources on the history of Europe. Each website that is listed in EHPS has a short description and is categorised according to country, language, period, subject and type of source. The portal can be searched in a variety of ways. The listed websites can be accessed for free, though sometimes a registration is required.
LIFE Photo Archive Hosted by Google
Images from U.S. and world history from the 1750s to the 2000s.
An American-German joint project, is a learning tool for observing and interacting with color maps and tables illustrating key events and problems in world history from ancient Greece to the contemporary era.
The Special Collections and Archives at the library contain research materials that document the cultural and environmental history of Idaho. The collections include personal papers of individuals and families; business archives of lumber, railroad, mining, and other companies; Idaho state publications; papers of government officials, educators, authors, and business people; records of organizations such as religious, fraternal, civic, and environmental associations; and similar groups.
Materials can be located in the library’s catalog or by visiting special collections, either in person or online.
You can use the library’s catalog, World Cat Local, to find books that have primary sources reprinted in them. Include keywords or subject terms related to your topic. Add words like “sources,” “documents,” “correspondence,” “interviews,” personal narratives,” “speeches,” “pictorial works,” or “diaries.”
American Voices of World War I: Primary Source Documents, 1917-1920
Martin Marix Evans
Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2001.
The Depression and New Deal: A History in Documents
Robert S McElvaine
New York : Oxford University Press, 2000.
Environmental Issues in American History: A Reference Guide with Primary Documents
Chris J Magoc
Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2006.
Ref GE150.M338 2006
Lynching in America: A History in Documents
New York : New York University Press, 2006.
Milestone Documents in American History: Exploring the Primary Sources That Shaped America
Paul Finkelman; Bruce A Lesh
Dallas, Tex.: Schlager Group, 2008.
Ref E173.M62 2008
Governments produce a wide range of information: legislative hearings and debates, census data, scientific reports, records of expenditures, laws and regulations, statistical information, administrative and agency reports. This information is published in a wide range of formats: online databases, websites, microforms, books, CD-ROM, maps. As with digital collections,
100 Milestone Documents in US History is a list of 100 milestone documents, compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration, and drawn primarily from its nationwide holdings. The documents chronicle United States history from 1776 to 1965.
National Archives and Records Administration has a variety of online exhibits that contain primary sources.
MetaLib is a federated search engine that searches multiple U.S. Federal government databases, retrieving reports, articles, and citations while providing direct links to selected resources available online. Many are available full-text while others are available at the UI Library.
Hein Online includes full-text reproductions of many major legal and congressional publications including the Annals of Congress (1789-1824), the Register of Debates in Congress (1825-1837), the Congressional Globe (1833-1873), and the Congressional Record (1873 to the present).
Thomas provides access to current and historical bills back to 1973.
Many government documents published before the late twentieth century are not listed in online catalogs or databases. To learn more, contact Rami Attebury at firstname.lastname@example.org or 885-2503.
Newspapers are considered primary sources if they contain first-hand accounts and were published at the time an event took place. Newspaper stories that occur after an event and/or contain second-hand accounts are considered primary sources.
Pacific Northwest Historical Newspapers Archive
Historical newspapers from Washington, Oregon and Idaho chronicle the explosive growth of the Pacific Northwest during the 19th and 20th centuries.
University of Idaho Argonaut
The library has the Argonaut on microfilm from 1898 to the present. Full-text is available online from 2000 to the present. Indexing is available for selected years.
The New York Times
The New York Times website has an index that will let researchers search for articles back to the 1851. Some articles are available full-text online. The University of Idaho also has the New York Times on Microfilm.
Other Idaho Newspapers
The library has microfilm reels for many other Idaho newspapers dating back more than 100 years. They are located on the second floor of the library. Indexing is not available for most newspapers, so it helps to know the date of an event when searching for information. Scrolling through issues on or around that date can lead to locating a useful article.