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History 300 - The Study of History

Primary Source

Local archives: 
Benson Ford Research Center: 

Located at The Henry Ford; Josephine F. Ford Plaza at the entrance to Greenfield Village. 

“The Benson Ford Research Center holdings include the historical records and photographs of Ford Motor Company and The Henry Ford, the Henry Austin Clark, Jr., Automotive History Collection, and other major holdings in automotive, industrial, social and cultural American history.” 

Bentley Historical Library: (usually very student friendly) 

Located at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, North Campus, 1150 Beale Avenue, (734) 764-3482. 

The Bentley collects manuscripts, photographs, and other materials related to the history of Michigan (“people, organizations and voluntary associations”) and is the official repository of the University of Michigan’s records. 

Burton Historical Collection: (this archive has a reputation for being more difficult to use...) 

Located in the Detroit Public Library. 

“Over 12 million items, consisting of personal papers, records of organizations, businesses and churches, and the governmental archives of Detroit and Wayne County, Michigan make up the manuscript collection.” 

The Walter P. Reuther Library (Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs): 

Located on the Wayne State University campus. 

The collection includes “records of the American labor movement, with special emphasis upon industrial unionism and related social, economic and political organizations in the United States. It also collects historical records related to urban affairs, with particular focus upon metropolitan Detroit.” 

The Labadie Collection: (you need to pre-order the materials you want to see, so do your homework online before heading to AA) 

Located on 7th floor, Hatcher Graduate Library at U-M Ann Arbor, (734) 764-9377. 

“In addition to anarchism, the Collection's strengths include: civil liberties (with an emphases on racial minorities), socialism, communism, colonialism and imperialism, American labor history through the 1930s, the IWW, the Spanish Civil War, sexual freedom, women's liberation, gay liberation, the underground press, and student protest.” 

Local government documents libraries: 

University of Michigan Documents Center: 

Wayne State University: 

A link to find others: 

1) Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH)

This site has a collection of photos from the Mississippi flood of 1927

Key Words: Mississippi flood, natural disaster, photographs 


2)Christopher Newport University

This site has a collection of primary sources from the 1920s and separates them by topic. Topics range from prohibition to Amelia Earhart to Immigration. Once you click the topic you want (ex. prohibition ) any primary photos the site has will pop up and below them will be links to other primary sources from across the web!

Key Words: several topics, digital collection, photos, newspapers, 1920s


3) Youtube Video of 1930s fashion

This is a video of a 1930s fashion review originally broadcast in movie theaters by the Fashion Features Studio in a series of newsreel commercials through the late 1920s and on into the 1930s. 

****Here is also a link to a separate site that has more primary sources on fashion, makeup, hair etc. from the 1900s to the 1960s.

Key Words: Fashion, Homelife, Color Film. 


4)Purdue University e-Archives (Amelia Earhart Papers)

This source has an e-archive on everything Amelia Earhart. It includes photos of her home, correspondences, newspaper clippings about her, photos from inside her plane, and more. 

Key Words: Amelia Earhart, Women of 1930s


5)Presidential Library and Museum (Recorded Speeches and Utterances of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1920-1945)

This site has dated recordings of several of FDR’s speeches and addresses. 

Key Words: FDR, Oral History


6) Grand Valley State University All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Interviews

Video and Audio of the women of some of the first female professional baseball teams. The teams were active mainly from 1925-1945. 

Key Words: Sports, Women in History 


7)America in Class Becoming Modern: America in the 1920s

This site is a collection of what made the world “modern” in the 1920-1950s. This includes social issues, scientific discoveries, economic news, women’s issues, etc. Each page has links to primary sources related to the page’s topic. 

Key Words: Artwork, Newsreels, Publications, Radio, Movies, Factory 


8)Newton Gresham Library (Sam Houston State University)

This collection has tabs for popular topics such as the great depression, census data, immigration, labor, music & entertainment, and more. When a tab is pulled up primary sources related to that topic come up. 

Key Words: Media, Census Data, Immigration, Labor, Music and Entertainment, African Americans, Health, Politics, Native Americans. 


9) University of Missouri Libraries

This collection has a list of government documents as primary sources from 1900 to 1979.

Key Words:  Government documents, Military, Politics, Laws. 


10) The Queens University of Charlotte (Everett Library)

This page focuses on the 1920s, but many of the primary sources listed cover the 1930s as well. These sources include digital Good Housekeeping magazines, Black Culture, Fashion Urban America, FBI Gangster Era, etc. 

Key Word: Digital writing collections, Manuscripts, Manuscripts, FBI files.


11) EdTechTeacher Best of History Websites

This page contains links to primary source resources, each divided by topic. It includes unusual links like the 1920’s movie release of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well as links about the Scopes trial and Harlem Renaissance. Several of the collections listed stray into the 1930s.

Key Words: Harlem Renaissance, Jazz, Missippi flood, Scope Trial, Lindbergh


12) Oliver Wendell Holmes Library

This page has links to other primary source resources and an extensive list of Primary Sources in Newspaper Databases. 

Key Words: Newspapers


13) Digital Public Library of America Primary Source Sets

This page has primary source collections separated by topic. 

Key Words: Photos, Documents, Art, Literature, Politics, Social Programs, Mexican Labor, Food Stamp Programs.


 14)FDR Cartoon Archive

This site has a database of cartoons from the late 1930s to mid-1940s. 

Key Words: Cartoons, Foreign Relations, Political Cartoons 


15)Great Depression Oral Histories

This site has a list of videotaped interviews from people who lived through the Great Depression. 

Key Words: Great Depression, Video Interviews


16)Eleanor Roosevelt’s Papers

This site has multiple primary sources that all have to do with Eleanor Roosevelt. It contains transcripts of tv and radio appearances of hers and her “My Day” newspaper columns. 

Key Words: News columns, radio and tv transcripts, campaign documents 


17)Works Progress Administration posters

This site has posters from the U.S. Works Progress Administration 1936 -1943 

Key Words: Posters, New Deal


18)Works Progress Administration posters from Library of Congress,

This site has a collection of Work Projects Administration (WPA) Poster consisting of 907 posters produced from 1936 to 1943 by various branches of the WPA.

Key Words: Posters, WPA


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