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Fullerton College Library

History of the United States

This guide is an entryway to the library's resources on American history.

Primary Sources

QuestionerWhat are Primary Sources?


A primary source is a document or even a physical object, such as a Native American basket, which was written or created during a particular time period. These first-hand sources can provide insight into that time period or event, sometimes by bringing a sense of immediacy. Primary sources are:

  • Documents or objects created by its originator

  • From the viewpoint of a participant or observer

  • Not in interpreted or translated form


  • Newspaper articles from the library's databases of historical American newspapers
  • Description of the Lewis and Clark expedition by one of the explorers on the expedition
  • Diary of Anne Frank
  • Magazine, newspaper articles, and ads published at a particular historical time
  • A Promised Land, a memoir, written by Barack Obama
  • A journal article reporting NEW research or findings
  • Government documents
  • Correspondence

Selected Print Books

The library has many sources with primary sources documents or about primary documents. You can use ONESEARCH to locate both online and print materials. By clicking on the Advanced Search option, you can add more subject terms to narrow your search. Below are some examples of print books on primary sources in the library's collection:


microfilm reader      

The library has the New York Times from 1851 on microfilm. You can capture the mood of the past through New York Times articles covering the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The library has the New York Times microfilm from 9/1851-12/1865, 1/1913-12/2003. You can retrieve some of the articles through the online NYT archives, but you will have to subscribe for full access at New York Times Archives. However, by using the online archives to search for subjects, you locate the dates and pages of interesting articles that you can then find on microfilm. Ask a librarian at the Reference desk on the first floor for assistance with the microfilms.

The library also has the Los Angeles Times on microfilm from 1/1970-12/2003. The Los Angeles Times Archives is available online with a free 7 day trial, but afterwards, you need to subscribe.