Primary sources are documents or artifacts that provide first-hand evidence. We use this evidence to establish facts -- facts about an artifact, facts about history, or facts about the relationship between an artifact and history.
Almost anything can be a primary source. Examples include census records, court records, newspaper articles, photographs, architectural plans, buildings, and everyday objects.
Primary sources are different from secondary sources, such as journal articles. Secondary sources do not provide first-hand evidence; instead, they analyze evidence provided by other sources.
These databases are listed in (approximately) chronological order. Databases containing the oldest content are at the top; databases containing the newest content are at the bottom.
UMW pays for subscriptions to these databases. Access may require a UMW username and password.
For more databases that contain primary sources, see this list on the History and American Studies guide.
Search the library's main search box to find diaries, journals, memoirs, collections of the papers of notable people, and published collections of primary sources. Try using these words in your searches:
Use ArchiveGrid to locate physical archives around the world and search their contents.
Here at UMW, check out the Special Collections and University Archives in Simpson Library, which houses rare books and archival materials relating to the history of the Fredericksburg area and of the institution. To make an appointment, call (540) 654-2045 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org. This department also maintains our Digital Collections, including collections of photographs, materials relating to James Farmer, oral histories compiled by university faculty and students, and a rich array of other items.