Skip to Main Content

Primary & Secondary Sources

This guide will help you learn the difference between primary and secondary sources in various subject areas and provides resources for locating primary sources, both in the library and on the open web.

Library Databases

These databases require a Fresno State account for access.

African American Newspapers, 1827-1998 Full text access to 280 newspapers published by or for African Americans.

African American Periodicals, 1825-1995 Over 170 periodicals by or about African Americans, including popular magazines, academic and political journals, and more.

Ethnic Diversity Source is a dedicated resource covering the culture, traditions, social treatment and lived experiences of different ethnic groups in America. It includes full text from newspapers, magazines, and other primary source documents as well as journal articles and e-books.

Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2010) Full-page and article images from the oldest and largest black newspaper in the western United States. Users can study the progression of issues over time by browsing issues of the historic newspaper, including news articles, photos, advertisements, classified ads, obituaries, cartoons, and more.

Race Relations in America contains primary source material including audio, surveys, and photographs on the Civil Rights Movement, segregation, discrimination and racial theory in America during 1943-1970.

Slavery and Anti-Slavery, A Transnational Archive Archival collections from more than 60 libraries covering the history of slavery in America and the rest of the world from the 17th century to the late 19th century.

African American History Resources

1964 Freedom Summer Project Official records of organizations, personal papers of movement leaders, letters, racist propaganda, diaries, images, newsletters and more.

African American Heritage [National Archives] Links to materials, some of which have been digitized, related to African American History from the National Archives.

The African-American Mosaic Library of Congress resource guide for the study of Black history & culture.

African Americans in the Columbia River Basin Collections from multiple institutions in seven U.S. states and one Candadian province.

Africans in America Companion site to the PBS television series including numerous historical documents.

Behind the Veil Oral histories on African-American life during legal segregation in the American South, from the 1890s to the 1950s.

Black Abolitionist Archive A collection of over 800 speeches by antebellum Blacks, and editorials from the period. Includes audio and digital files.

Black American (Reveal Digital/Independent Voices) Publications of the Black Power, Black Arts Black Nationalism, Separatism, and Black Feminism movements.

Black Freedom Struggle in the United States Primary sources from 1790 to the 2000s on slavery and abolition, the Civil War, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, and more.

Black Newspapers Collection Newspapers that were owned by, operated by, or intended for Black communities in Illinois from 1897-2003.

Booker T. Washington: A Resource Guide Digital materials from the Library of Congress.

Chronicling America: African American Digitized newspapers from 1881 to 1922 from the Library of Congress.

Civil Rights Resources from the National Archives.

Civil Rights Movement Collections from the Digital Public Library of America.

The Civil Rights Movement Primary source set from the Library of Congress.

Digital Public Library of America Curated sets of primary sources.

Historical African American Newspapers Available Online: Chronology Chronological and title index to historical African American newspapers available from many different sources.

Historical Publications of the United States Commission on Civil Rights Online access to publications of the Commission.

Jim Crow and Segregation Primary source set from the Library of Congress.

NAACP: A Century in the Fight for Freedom, 1909-2009 A wide variety of materials, including manuscripts, photographs, prints, pamphlets, broadsides, audiotapes, phonograph records, films, and video recordings.

National Museum of African American History and Culture Images of objects from the NMAAHC collection.

North American Slave Narratives All the existing autobiographical narratives of self-emancipated and formerly enslaved people published as broadsides, pamphlets, or books in English up to 1920.

Rosa Parks Papers 7500 items documenting many aspects of Parks's private life and public activism on behalf of civil rights for African Americans.

The Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Collection Pamphlets and other ephemera documenting the anti-slavery struggle at the local, regional, and national levels.

Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora Over 1200 images illustrating enslaved Africans and their descendants before c. 1900.

Slaves and the Courts, 1740 to 1860 Extensive collection of documents on court cases related to slavery, from the Library of Congress.

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database Provides the most comprehensive source of data currently available on the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Contains records of nearly 35,000 separate slaving voyages between 1514 and 1866, gleaned from original documents and historical publications located in archives, libraries, and other institutions throughout the world.

Umbra Search Search hundreds of thousands of pieces of African American history and culture from many different institutions.

Voices Remembering Slavery: Freed People Tell Their Stories Recorded interviews with 22 people born into slavery.

Who Speaks for the Negro? Interviews and archival materials related to Robert Penn Warren’s book on the Civil Rights Movement.

California collections

African American Museum and Library at Oakland Several collections related to the historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in Northern California.

Bridges That Carried Us Over Project Documenting Black History in the Inland Empire.

Grapevine Magazine From 1969 to 1982, the Grapevine Magazine highlighted hundreds of stories about African Americans in California's Central Valley in the fields of medicine, history, civil rights, education, religion, government, law, politics, business, sports, and entertainment.

Compton Communicative Arts Academy (CCAA) Images that document African American art and culture, community-based art making, and art-based community making in Los Angeles during the early 1970s.

Black Voice News First published by students at UC Riverside, the paper focuses on the inland area’s Black community.

Harold K. Brown Civil Rights Collection Digitized selections from the Harold K. Brown Papers, a collection that documents Mr. Brown's participation in the San Diego Civil Rights Movement.

Creating Community: African Americans in San Diego Interviews with prominent San Diego African Americans.

Citizens Interracial Committee Civil Rights Era Audio Recordings Recordings of community dialogues to discuss issues such as racism, police sensitivity, education, and employment discrimination within the city of San Diego.

Black Spartans Documentation of Black experiences at San Jose State University.

Civil Rights and Campus Protest Collection Documents related to campus protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s at San Jose State College.

African Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1963-1974 Press photographs collected by James Abajian.

African-Americans on the Central Coast Photos collected by members of the Black Gold Cooperative Library System Advisory Board.

African American Living Legends Series Program Archive Photos and videos from the County of Los Angeles Public Library's African-American Living Legends Series, honoring leaders and visionaries of the African American community.

Bunche (Ralph J.) papers Correspondence, speeches, manuscripts, articles, publications, and photographs related to Ralph J. Bunche's life and career.

UPI - The African American Experience 1930-1980 Photographs addressing significant events and people in Black American history, including desegregation, the civil rights movement, and the Black Panthers.