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Primary 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

Digital Public Library of America Curated sets of primary sources.

Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties, compiled and edited by Charles J. Kappler, 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). The work was first published in 1903-04 by the U.S. Government Printing Office. Fully digitized and searchable online.

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.

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.