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Primary Sources

Primary sources are records created by people who participated in or witnessed historical events. They are direct records of the events, without interpretation or commentary. Some primary sources can be created after the events (such as memoirs, oral histories etc.). Primary resources can include diaries, letters, journals, speeches, interviews, tape recordings, memoirs, oral histories, maps, treaties, photographs, and records of governments.

The following are some primary source materials that are found in CYRIL, organized by categories, and covering the United States and other nations. This is not intended to include all primary sources owned by Standish Library. There is also some overlap among the categories. To locate the books, search these titles in CYRIL to find the call numbers. To find other, primary sources in CYRIL, search on keywords such as diaries, letters, speeches, correspondence, personal narratives, memoirs, interviews, maps etc. There is also a section at the end for online sources.

Primary Sources in Books in the Siena Library Web Sites for Primary Sources


United States    
 Explorers, Pioneers, Homesteaders  Wars  Religious
 Women  American Presidents & Staff  Speeches
 African Americans  Politics & Foreign Affairs  Miscellaneous U.S.
 Native Americans  Writers  
 Europe  Asia  Other
 Latin America  Africa  
 Canada  Middle East  


Explorers, Pioneers, Homesteaders

Bougainville, Louis Antoine de. Adventure in the Wilderness: the American Journals of Louis Antoine de Bougainville 1756-60.
Chisholm, James. South Pass 1868: James Chisholm’s Journal of the Wyoming Gold Rush
Columbus, Christopher. The Diario of Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to America
Columbus, Christopher. The Log of Christopher Columbus.
Columbus, Christopher. To America and around the world: The Logs of Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan.
Dunbar, William. The Forgotten Expedition, 1804-1805. The Louisiana Purchase Journals of Dunbar and Hunter
Doyle, Susan B. Journeys to the Land of Gold: Emigrant Diaries from the Bozeman Trail, 1863-1866
James, Edwin. An account of an expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains (1819)
Johnson, Rolf. Happy as a Big Sunflower: Adventures in the West, 1876-1880 (Nebraska)
Kinzie, John H. Mrs. Wau-Bun: the “Early Day” in the Northwest (narrative of travel in Wisconsin and Illinois, 1812, and 1830’s)
Morgan, Percy Reese. On the Adirondack Survey with Verplanck Colvin: the Diaries of Percy Reese Morgan (Adirondack surveyor)
Myres, Sandra L. (ed.). Ho! For California: Women’s Overland Diaries…
Rodney, Thomas. A Journey through the West: Thomas Rodney’s 1803 Journal from Delaware to the Mississippi Territory
Stewart, Eleanor Pruitt. Letters of a Woman Homesteader (Wyoming, 1909-13)
Whybrow, Helen. Dead Reckoning: Great Adventure Writing from the Golden Age of Exploration 1800-1900 (includes Lewis & Clark, the Oregon Trail and other adventures)


Alcott, Louisa May. The Journals of Louisa May Alcott
Brevard, Keziah G.H. A Plantation Mistress on the Eve of the Civil War (S. Carolina)
Holmes, Barbara Ann. A Private Woman in Public Spaces: Barbara Jordan’s Speeches on Ethics, Religion…(19th C.) (African American)
Lindbergh, Anne Morrow. Bring me a Unicorn: Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
Lindbergh, Anne Morrow. Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead: Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Mead, Margaret. Letters from the Field 1925-75 (anthropologist)
Petroski, Catherine. A Bride’s Passage: Susan Hawthorne’s Year Under Sail (19th C.)
Sarton, May. Encore: A Journal of the Eightieth Year. (20th C.)
Solomon, Clara. The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon: Growing up in New Orleans, 1861-1862
Spriggs, June. Domestick Beings: Biography & Diaries of 18th C. Rural Women
Waggenspack, Beth Marie. The Search for Self-Sovereignty: the Oratory of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (women’s rights)

African Americans

Bell-Scott, Patricia. Life Notes: Personal Writings by Contemporary Black Women, 1994
Blanchard, Loren J. et. al. Paper-Thin/Soul-Deep: Collection of Personal Letters and Journals of African American Men
Chesnutt, Charles W. The Journals of Charles W. Chesnutt.
Cuffe, Paul. Captain Paul Cuffe’s Logs and Letters, 1808-1817: A Black Quaker’s “Voice from Within the Veil”
Daniels, Nathan W. Thank God my Regiment an African One: the Civil War Diary of Col. Nathan W. Daniels (New Orleans)
Dunn, James A. On Board the USS Mason: World War II Diary of James A. Dunn
Foner, Phillip S. (ed.). Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory 1787-1900
Forten, Charlotte L. The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimké (Civil War)
Killion, Ronald G. Slavery Time When I was Chillun Down on Marster’s Plantation: Interviews with Georgia Slaves
King, Martin Luther Jr. The Speeches of Martin Luther King (video)
King, Martin Luther Jr. The Papers of Martin Luther King
Logan, Shirley W. (ed.). With Pen and Voice: A Critical Anthology of African American Women (includes women’s rights convention, equal rights etc.)
Newman, Richard (ed.). Pamphlets of Protest: An Anthology of Early African-American Protest Literature 1790-1860
Salvatore, Nick. We all Got History: the Memory Books of Amos Webber
Schubert, Frank N. (ed.). Voices of the Buffalo Soldier: Records, Reports, Recollections… (African American soldiers)
Wells-Barnett, Ida B. The Memphis Diary of Ida B. Wells (Civil Rights)

Native Americans

Armstrong, Virginia I. I have spoken: American History through the Voices of the Indians
Mann, Barbara Alice (ed.). Native American Speakers of the Eastern Woodlands: Selected Speeches
South Carolina. Documents Relating to Indian Affairs (1750-1765)
Sweeney, Edwin R. (ed). Making Peace with Cochise: The 1872 Journal of Joseph Alton Sladen (Apache War)
Vanderwerth, W.C. Indian Oratory: Famous Speeches by Noted Indian Chieftains


Cox, Joseph T. (compiler). The Written Wars: American War Prose through the Civil War

Indian Wars

Church, Benjamin. Diary of King Philip’s War 1675-76
Lincoln, Charles Henry. Narratives of the Indian Wars 1675-99
Slotkin, Richard. So Dreadful a Judgment: Puritan Responses to King Philip’s War 1676
Taylor, William O. With Custer on the Little Big Horn...First Person Account


Bailyn, Bernard. Pamphlets of the American Revolution 1750-1776
Liberty! The American Revolution (video). (includes letters, diaries)
Nagle, Jacob. The Nagle Journal: Diary of the Life of Jacob Nagle, Sailor 1775-1841
March to Quebec: Journals of the Members of Arnold’s Expedition (Benedict Arnold)
Wasmus, J.F. An Eyewitness Account of the American Revolution and New England

Civil War

Apperson, John S. The Civil War Diaries of John S. Apperson
Bacot, Ada W. A Confederate Nurse: The Diary of Ada W. Bacot
Conolly, Thomas. An Irishman in Dixie: Thomas Conolly’s Diary of the Fall of the Confederacy
Gorgas, Josiah. The Journals of Josiah Gorgas, 1857-1878 (Confederate General)
Halsey, Edmond Drake. Brother Against brother: The Lost Civil War Diary of Lt. Edmund Halsey
Holt, Daniel M. A Surgeon’s Civil War: The Letters and Diary of Daniel M. Holt, MD
Hyde, Bill (ed.). The Union Generals Speak: The Meade Hearings on the Battle of Gettysburg
LeConte, Joseph. ''Ware Sherman: A Journal of Three Months Personal Experience in the Last Days of the Confederacy
Lyon, Henry C. Desolating this Fair Country: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Lt. Henry C. Lyon, 34th NY
Mattocks, James. Unspoiled Heart: The Journals of James Mattocks of the 17th Maine
McDonald, Cornelia Peake. A Woman’s Civil War: A Diary with Reminiscences
Ransom, John L. John Ransom’s Andersonville Diary
Rhodes, Elisha Hunt. All for the Union: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes
Stephens, Alexander Hamilton. Recollections of Alexander H. Stephens: His Diary when a Prisoner at Fort Warren, Boston Harbor 1865
Wakelyn, John L. (ed.). Southern Pamphlets on Secession, Nov 1860-April 1861 (includes speeches, sermons, letters)
Whitman, Walt. The Sacrificial Years: A Chronicle of Walt Whitman’s Experiences in the Civil War

Mexican War

Coulter, Richard. The Mexican War Journals of Pvt. Richard Coulter…
Curtis, Samuel Ryan. Mexico under Fire: Diary of Samuel Ryan Curtis…
Kirkham, Ralph W. The Mexican War Journal and Letters of Ralph W. Kirkham

World War I

Brittain, Vera. Letters from a Lost Generation: The First World War Letters of Vera Brittain
Masefield, John. Letters from the Front 1915-17
Messick, Frederick M. Primary Sources in European Diplomacy, 1914-1945 (a bibliography of published memoirs, diaries)
Rowe, Josiah Pollard. Letters from a World War I Aviator
Watkins, Dwight E. The Forum of Democracy: Collections of Writings and Speeches

World War II

Hitler, Adolph. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler (video)
Kahn, Sy Myron. Between Tedium and Terror: a Soldier’s WWII Diary 1943-45
Osmont, Marie Louise. The Normandy Diary
Palgi, Yoel. Into the Inferno: Memoir of a Jewish Paratrooper behind Nazi Lines
Pogue, Forrest C. Pogue’s War: Diaries of a WWII Combat Historian
Steinhoff, Johannes. Voices from the Third Reich: An Oral History
Stroup, Russell C. Letters from the Pacific: a Combat Chaplain in WWII
Voss. Johann. Black Edelweiss: Memoir of Combat and Conscience by a Member of the Waffen-SS


Berry, Henry. Hey Mac Where Ya Been? Living Memories of the U.S. Marines in the Korean War (interviews)
Blair, Clay. Beyond Courage
Dvorchak, Robert J. Battle for Korea: The Associated Press History of the Korean Conflict
Peters, Richard A. Voices from the Korean War: Personal Stories of American, Korean, And Chinese Soldiers


Drez, Ronald J. Voices of Courage: The Battle for Khe Sanh (personal narratives)
Johnson, Lyndon B. Lyndon B. Johnson’s Vietnam Papers: Documentary Collection
Porter, Gareth (ed). Vietnam, A History in Documents
Stacewicz, Richard. Winter Soldiers: An Oral History of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War
United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Foreign Relations. The Vietnam Hearings

Cold War

Hanhimaki, Jussi (ed.). The Cold War: A History in Documents and Eyewitness Accounts

American Presidents and Staff

Ayers, Eben A. Truman in the Whitehouse: The Diaries of Eben A. Ayers
Beschloss, Michael (ed.). Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson’s Secret White House Tapes 1964-65
Browne, Stephen H. Jefferson’s Call for Nationhood: First Inaugural Address
Casserly, John J. The Ford Whitehouse: the Diary of a Speechwriter
Eisenhower, Dwight D. The Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower: The War Years
Fornieri, Joseph R. (ed.). The Language of Liberty: Political Speeches and Writings of Abraham Lincoln
Haldeman, H.R. The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon Whitehouse
Hay, John. Inside Lincoln’s Whitehouse: The Complete Civil War Diary of John Hay
Holzer, Harold, (ed.). Dear Mr. Lincoln: Letters to the President
The Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States from George Washington 1789 to George Bush 1989
Jefferson, Thomas. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson
The LBJ Tapes: The Johnson White House Tapes (videorecording)
Kennedy, John F. The Speeches of John F. Kennedy (video)
The President’s Speak: the Inaugural Addresses of the American President’s from Washington to Clinton
Roosevelt, Theodore. Letters and Speeches
Truman, Harry S. Mr. President: The First Publication from the Personal Diaries, Private Letters, Papers and Interviews of Harry S Truman
Washington, George. The Diaries of George Washington
Washington, George. The Papers of George Washington

Politics and Foreign Affairs

Field, David D. Speeches, Arguments, and Misc. Papers of David D. Field (19th C. politician)
New York (State). The Public Papers of Daniel D. Tompkins, Governor of New York 1807-1817
Persons, Albert C. Bay of Pigs: A First Hand Account…by a U.S. Pilot
United States. Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs
United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-American Activities. Thirty years of Treason: Excerpts from Hearings before the House Committee on Un-American Activities 1938-68
United States. Congress. House. Committee on the Judiciary. Impeachment Inquiry: Hearings Before the Committee on the Judiciary 1974 (Nixon)
United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Institute of Pacific Relations: Hearings before the Subcommittee... 1951
United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Fair Play for Cuba: Hearings... 1960


Byron, George Gordon. Byron: A Self Portrait. Letters and Diaries 1798-1824
Lawrence, D.H. The Letters of D.H. Lawrence
Lorde, Audre. The Cancer Journals (poet)
Plath, Sylvia. The Journals of Sylvia Plath
Tennyson, Alfred, Lord. The Letters of Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Thoreau, Henry David. Journal
White, Viola C. Partridge in a Swamp. The Journals of Viola C. White 1918-1941 (poet)
Whitman, Walt. Daybooks and Notebooks
Wilder, Thornton. The Journals of Thornton Wilder
Wolf, Virginia. The Diary of Virginia Wolf


Documents of Vatican Council I 1869-70
Ginter, Barbara. The Long Haul: Journal and Letters from Nicaragua (missionary)
Jasper, Detlev. Papal Letters in the Early Middle Ages
Jesus, Ursula de. The Souls of Purgatory: Spiritual Diary of a 17th Century Afro-Peruvian Mystic
Mather, Cotton. Selected Letters of Cotton Mather
Merton, Thomas. A Vow of Conversation, Journals 1964-1965 (Trappist Monk)
Seton, Elizabeth Ann, Saint. Elizabeth Seton: Selected Writings (Catholic)
Wesley, John. The Journal of John Wesley (Methodist Clergy)
Winson, Robert. Dirty Laundry: 100 Days in a Zen Monastery
Woodruff, Wilford. Waiting for World’s End: The Diaries of Wilford Woodruff (Mormon)

Miscellaneous Speeches

Baird, Albert Craig. American Public Addresses 1740-1952
Gottheimer, Josh (ed.). Ripples of Hope: Great American Civil Rights Speeches
Greene, Richard. Words That Shook the World: 100 Years of Unforgettable Speeches (covers Churchill to JFK, MLK, MacArthur, the Roosevelt’s etc.)
Johnston, Alexander. American Orations: Studies in American Political History (Colonialism, Civil War etc.)
MacArthur, Brian (ed.). The Penguin Book of Twentieth Century Speeches
Miller, Marion M. Great Debates in American History (covers Colonial through the Taft Administration 1912)
Patrick, Frederick Clinton. Great Americans Speak. Short Speeches that have Shaped our Destiny (publ. 1951)
Platz, Mabel. Anthology of Public Speeches Includes Greek, Roman, Medieval, French Revolution, British, American Representative American Speeches (1930’s-1980’s)
Vital Speeches of the Day (periodical)
Wrage, Ernest Julius. American Forum: Speeches on Historic Issues 1788-1900


Auchincloss, Louis. The Hone and Strong Diaries of Old Manhattan
Barck, Dorothy C. Papers of the Lloyd Family…Lloyd’s Neck, Long Island
Bushman, Claudia L. In Old Virginia: Slavery, Farming and Society in the Journal of John Walker
Garrison, William Lloyd. The Letters of William Lloyd Garrison (abolitionist)
Graham, Judith S. Puritan Family Life: The Diary of Samuel Sewall
Hammond, James Henry. Secret and Sacred: The Diaries of James Henry Hammond, a Southern Slaveholder (S. Carolina)
Heston, Charlton. The Actor’s Life: Journals 1956-1976
Kamphoefner, Walter D. News from the Land of Freedom: German Immigrants Write Home
Lindsay, William A. The Journal of William A. Lindsay: an Ordinary Nineteenth Century Physician’s Surgical Cases
Mallory, James. Fear God and Walk Humbly: The Agricultural Journal of James Mallory, 1843-1877 (Alabama)
Penn, William. The Papers of William Penn
Ravage, M.E. An American in the Making: Life Story of an Immigrant (Romanian)
Ruby Sales: Episcopalian Seminarian and SNCC Organizer (video) (interviews re: Civil Rights)
Rogers, Will. The Papers of Will Rogers: The Early Years (entertainer)
Sanger, Abner. Very Poor and of a Lo Make: The Journal of Abner Sanger (New Hampshire)
Wachtler, Saul. After the Madness: A Judge’s Own Prison Memoir.
Webster, Daniel. Daniel Webster the “Completest Man” (documents from the papers of Daniel Webster)
Winthrop, John. The Journal of John Winthrop 1630-1649


Dimitrov, Georgi. The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933-1949 (Communism) (written in Russian, Bulgarian, German; transl. into English)
Dizdarevic, Zlatko. Sarajevo: A War Journal, 1992
Gote, IU. V. Time of Troubles: The Diary of Iurii Vladimirovich Gote 1917
Noakes, J. (ed.). Nazism 1919-1945: A Documentary Reader
Patry, Leonce. The Reality of War: Memoir of the Franco-Prussian War (1870) and the Paris Commune
Pembroke, Henry Herbert. Pembroke Papers 1780-1794: Letters and Diaries of Henry, Tenth Earl of Pembroke
Riordan, Jim (ed., translator). Dear Comrade Editor: Readers’ Letters to the Soviet Press Under Perestroika
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto (Holocaust)

Latin America

Bolivar, Simon. Selected Writings
Cortes, Hernan. Five Letters to the Emperor 1519-1526
Dimock, Joseph J. Impressions of Cuba in the 19th Century: Travel Diary (electronic)
James, Daniel. Complete Bolivian Diaries of Che Guevera…
Jesus, Carolina Maria de. The Unedited Diaries of Carolina Maria de Jesus (Brazil)
Kahlo, Frida. The Diary of Frida Kahlo (Mexican artist)
Leon-Portilla, Miguel. Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico
Martinez, Oscar J. Fragments of the Mexican Revolution: Personal Accounts…
Maloof, Judy. Voices of Resistance: Testimonies of Cuban and Chilean Women
Rico Gonzales, Victor. Documentos Sobre la Expulsion de los Jesuitas y Occupacion…


The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations…New France
Peyser, Joseph L. Letters from New France…1686-1783


Jain, R.K. (compiler). Soviet South Asian Relations 1947-78
Mao, Tse-tung. Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung
Miller, Donald E. Survivors: An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide
Suh, Dae Sook. Documents of Korean Communism 1918-48


Baker, Allison. Voices of Resistance: Oral Histories of Moroccan Women
Curtin, Philip D. (ed.) Africa Remembered: Narratives by West Africans from the Era of the Slave Trade
Johns, Sheridan (ed.). Mandela, Tambo, and the African National Congress: The Struggle Against Apartheid, 1948-90: A Documentary Survey
Karis, Thomas (ed.). From Protest to Challenge: A Documentary History of African Politics in S. Africa 1882-1964
Kirk-Greene, A.H.M. Crisis and Conflict in Nigeria: A Documentary Sourcebook
Mandela, Nelson. The Struggle Is My Life:His Speeches and Writings Brought Together with Historical Documents and Accounts of Mandela in Prison by Fellow-prisoners
Smuts, Jan Christiaan. Selections from the Smuts Papers (Boer War)
Wiley, Bill I. (ed.). Slaves No More: Letters from Liberia 1833-1869

Middle East

Psychological Warfare and Propaganda: Irgun Documentation (Jewish Underground)
Speaking Stones: Communiques from the Intifada Underground


Barker, Ernest. From Alexander to Constantine: Passages and Documents Illustrating the History of Social & Political Ideas 336 BC-AD 337
Behrendt, John C. Innocents on the Ice: A Memoir of Antarctic Exploration, 1957 (electronic book)
Lopez, Robert Sabatino. Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean World

(See also the Academic Web Resources--History page)U.S. National Archives and Records Administration ( )

Metasites and General

Primary Sources on the Web 
Primary sources from Eduplace
Internet Modern History Sourcebook (Fordham Univ.) Ancient, Medieval and Modern, Africa, Asia etc.
National Security Archive Primary sources and declassified documents on: the War on Terrorism, Cuban Missile Crisis, Europe, Latin America, China, Middle East, Rwanda, Nuclear History, Government Secrecy (including some Nixon tapes), etc.
AmDocs (American documents by time period)
Famous Trials
History Channel Video & Speeches


American Presidency Project
Presidential Library’s
Truman (diary, public papers, Korean war documents)
JFK Library & Museum (includes some from Robert and Edward)
Miller Center of Public Affairs, Multimedia Archive Presidential documents, speeches
History Matters Primary documents and other information on Kennedy’s Assassination; Vietnam War

Revolution and War of 1812

Spy Letters -American Revolution
New York History Net Includes Revolutionary War Letters in “Drums Along the Mohawk” section
War of 1812 Letters

Civil War

Civil War Documents
Civil War Women From Duke University

World War I Includes memoirs, diaries, documents
WWI Document Archive

World War II

Rutgers Oral History Archives Includes diaries, memoirs, letters, interviews: WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Cold War
World War II Resources
More World War II Resources From the Univ. of Maryland
Documents 1918-1941




CIA Speeches
American Rhetoric (Speeches)
History & Politics Outloud (speeches)


American Women’s History: Digital Collections

Native Americans

Tribal Writers Digital Library Includes many primary sources, along with other materials


Jesuit Relations 1610-1791   Missionary texts of early French contact and colonization
History of the United Kingdom: Primary Documents
Latin America Sources (includes many primary documents – scroll down)
Mexican & Argentine Presidential Messages
Islamic Civilization From SUNY Albany
Holocaust Documents


United Nations Cartography
David Rumsey Map Collection Focus is on rare 18th and 19th C. maps of N. and S. America. Also includes historic maps of Europe, Asia, Africa
Perry Castaneda Library Maps World maps, polar regions, oceans, bird flu maps; from Univ. of Texas
National Geographic Map Machine Covers street maps, topographic, conservation (eco-regions, land use, weather, floods, agricultural, vegetation etc.)
French & Indian War Maps
New York State Maps
Maps & Geospatial Information (from Cornell Univ.)