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History Day Research @ the MNHS Library: Step 2: Online Primary Sources

A step-by-step guide for student researchers

Online Sources: Minnesota



  • Collections Online: Lots of images and photos of artifacts from our collections
  • Minnesota Reflections: Images and documents relating to Minnesota’s history, collected from over 150 MN cultural heritage organizations
  • Images as Primary Sources: Strengths/weaknesses of photos as evidence, reading photos, and citing photos

Oral Histories:

  • Voices of Minnesota: 1300 interviews from the Society's Oral History collection, including streaming audio & video and written transcripts accessible online in digital formats.

Online Sources: National and International

  • American Memory Project (Library of Congress): A source for primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. The site offers more than 7 million digital items from more than 100 historical collections.

  • Chronicling America (Library of Congress): A digital collection of historic American newspapers from 23 states, dating from 1860-1922.  A number of Minnesota newspapers are included.   

  • DocsTeach documents (National Archives): Documents from 1754 to the present, sorted by era and document type.  

  • Internet History Sourcebooks Project (Fordham University): Historical texts from around the world broken down by timeframe and region.  Sources range from Ancient Greek texts to modern American history.  

Useful Terms

Primary Source - Materials from the time of the person or event being researched.  (Letters, diaries artifacts, photographs, and other types of first-hand accounts and records, as well as reminiscences and oral histories. Stories from newspapers of the time may also be primary sources.)

Secondary Source - Materials that were created at a later time.  They analyze and interpret primary sources; footnotes or bibliographies can lead to primary sources.

Still confused about Primary vs. Secondary Sources?  Check out our short video tutorial!

Online Primary Sources Links

Gale Family Library • Minnesota Historical Society • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300
Currently open by appointment only.