Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user wrestlingentropy
Important things to keep in mind:
This guide is NOT a comprehensive list of all existing primary sources, digital or otherwise. You will likely need to do some searching beyond this guide to find primary resources related to your specific topic.
Not every primary source will be available online or in digital form. Many sources are still available only in print, microform, or archival format.
Not every primary source will available in English. Keep this in mind especially when you are working on a world history topic. If you do not read other languages, you may have to frame your topic in ways that will justify using English-language sources.
Many libraries and organizations are making digital materials available online.
To find these collections, use this search string in Google or another search engine, in addition to keywords relevant to your topic, for example:
digital collection library site:.edu prohibition
You can also try the same search limiting to site:org rather than site:edu BUT:
EDU = educational institution
ORG = organization, which can mean almost ANY kind of noncorporate organization. If you aren't familiar with the organization, do some research on it! Who are they? What do they promote? Are they reliable?
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For more information about evaluating websites, see the Evaluating Information tab, above.
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. Coverage can be spotty, but these sites are worth searching... just in case.
George Mason University's National History Education Clearinghouse has published reviews of over 1000 history-oriented websites.
Browse, or use keywords to search for a website or digital library relevant to your topic.
Many state-based libraries and organizations are digitizing Civil War materials relating to the their state.
The Library of Congress has assembled this list of state digital libraries. Search by state, or check out the Multi-State options.