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History 301 -- Adamiak

How to find primary and secondary sources in the CSUSM Library collections and beyond.

CSUSM Primary Source Collections

These collection are generally password-protected as CSUSM licenses the content from commercial providers. Use your campus ID and password to gain access. 

This is a sampling of collections from the CSUSM databases. Depending on your topic, there may be other databases that would be helpful. Below this box is a list of some internet (free-access) quality websites. While the CSUSM databases are US-focused, there is wide-ranging content that will provide material on every country and historical topic.


Newspapers are important primary sources rich in first-hand reporting of events such as conflicts, protests and humanitarian crisis brought on by oppressive governments. A number of CSUSM databases are backfiles of newspapers and there are other newspaper collections freely available on the internet (see Internet Primary Collections section.) More current editions are available as separate databases in the CSUSM Databases collection.

Internet Collections

These collections are assembled by universities, archives, museums and other organizations for free access. You will need to give citation credit for materials used even if they are free of charge. 

United Nations: High Commissioner for Human Rights includes statistical records and reports on oppressive governments and activities. 

Human Rights Archive (Duke University) offers access to some of their collection through the collections tab. 

Foreign Relations of the United States (commonly called FRUS) contains official messages, policy decisions and much more from presidential administrations covering 1861-1988. The volumes can be browsed Lincoln through Clinton administrations though this link. Check out the FRUS search tips to maximize your results. 

Chronicling America contains newspapers not available in fee-based digital databases, generally smaller papers with localized coverage. Date range 1789-1963. 

Calisphere is a cooperative effort between California scholarly institutions to provide access to image collections and digitized materials. A companion site is the Online Archive of California but much of the content listed in OAC is not digitized. 

Internet Archive offers an interesting range of digitized materials including books, moving images, and sound files. This collection depends on volunteer contributions so the range of topics is widespread and not necessarily deep on some topics. 

AP Archive (Associated Press) has a large collection of digitized materials used in newscasts and early newsreels. Use the Advanced Search to limit to digitized only. The exact date range available is unknown but some content is from WWI. 

JDC Archives offers access to a large amount of digitized photograhs, oral histories and documents about displaced persons during WWII. 

Women in World History from George Mason University is an example of a topic-specific collection. 

Perry-Casteñada Historical Map Collection from the University of Texas offers digital maps of the world, specific regions and a wide variety of time periods.