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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.

American Indian Histories and Cultures contains manuscripts, artwork, and rare printed books dating from the earliest contact between American Indians and Europeans. This resource provides access to material from the Newberry Library’s extensive Edward E. Ayer Collection; one of the strongest archival collections on American Indian history in the world.

American Indian Newspapers includes nearly 200 years of Indigenous print journalism from the US and Canada. Topics covered include community news, public health and welfare, education, cultural promotion and language revitalization, 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.

Native American History Resources

American Indians of the Pacific Northwest Collection Original photographs and documents about the Northwest Coast and Plateau Indian cultures, with essays written by anthropologists, historians, and teachers.

Chronicling America: Indians of North America Digitized newspapers from 1828 to 1963 from the Library of Congress.

Digital Public Library of America Curated sets of primary sources.

Documents Relating to Native American Affairs includes Documents Relating to the Negotiation of Ratified and Unratified Treaties With Various Indian Tribes, 1801-1869 and the Office of Indian Affairs, Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

Duke Collection of American Indian Oral History Interviews from 1967 to 1972 with members of every tribe resident in Oklahoma.

Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian Edward Sheriff Curtis published The North American Indian between 1907 and 1930 with the intent to record traditional Native American cultures.

First Nations Collection Documents, books, and articles relating to the indigenous peoples of southwestern Oregon and northern California.

IDA Treaties Explorer 374 Ratified Indian Treaties from copies at the U.S. National Archives, with additional documents to provide context.

Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties is an historically significant, seven volume compilation of U.S. treaties, laws and executive orders pertaining to Native American Indian tribes. The volumes cover U.S. Government treaties with Native Americans from 1778-1883 (Volume II) and U.S. laws and executive orders concerning Native Americans from 1871-1970 (Volumes I, III-VII). See also the Tribal Treaties Database, drawn from Volume II.

Indian Peoples of the Northern Great Plains Collection Digitized photographs, paintings, ledger drawings, documents, serigraphs, and stereographs from 1874 through the 1940s.

National Museum of the American Indian Images of objects from the collection.

Native American (Reveal Digital, Independent Voices) Independent Native American publications from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Native American Constitutions and Legal Materials Digitized materials from the Library of Congress.

Southeastern native American documents, 1730-1842 Over 2000 documents and images--letters, legal proceedings, military orders, and more.

Treaties Between the United States and Native Americans Texts of treaties from 1778 to 1868.

California collections

Native American Documents Project includes three sets of data: Published Reports of the Commissioner of Indian, Affairs and the Board of Indian Commissioners for 1871, Allotment Data collection, and Rogue River War and Siletz Reservation collection.

Dorothy M Hill Collection Photographs and other materials documenting the culture, language, and life of Northeastern California's Native American tribes and families in the early 1960s.

Ethnographic Photographs of California Indian and Sonora Indian Subjects by Alfred L. Kroeber, 1901-1930

Humboldt State Digital Archive Many photograph collections that include native people of Northwestern California.

Indians and the Colorado River from the JW Powell Survey 107 stereographic prints taken from circa 1869 to circa 1874.

Letters of the Office of Indian Affairs, 1849-1880, California Superintendency Letters to the Office of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., on issues relating to California Indians immediately before and during the first 30 years of California's statehood.

Merriam (C. Hart) Collection of Native American Photographs, ca. 1890-1938

Native Americans on the Central Coast The original native people of the Central Coast region include the Tataviam from interior Ventura County, the Nicoleño from San Nicolas Island, the Salinan from northern San Luis Obispo County and branches of the Chumash Linguistic Family.