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HIS 3563/AMS 3343: African American History to the Civil War

Research tips and resources for the study of African American history

Where to Look for Primary Sources

  • The first place to look for primary sources is in a good secondary source. A secondary source will interpret, analyze, critique, or comment on information found in primary sources and put them into context. So be sure to look in the text, notes, and list of sources / bibliography of any good secondary source you find.
  • UTSA Libraries has databases that focus solely on primary sources. For primary sources focused on African Americans, see the list below.
  • Historical newspaper articles about events that occurred during the time period you are studying may also be considered primary sources. UTSA Libraries provides access to many databases featuring historical newspapers; see below. 
  • Words matter! Use language / terminology of the time period when searching for primary sources.

Best Databases for Primary Sources

Historical Newspapers

Remember that newspapers from the time period you are studying can be considered primary sources!


Video Tutorials

Watch this video to learn how to use North American Women's Letters & Diaries to find first hand accounts written by African American women. Click "Watch in Panopto" for the best video quality.

Watch this video to learn how to use African American Historical Serials Collection to find primary sources from various nineteenth century and early twentieth century newspapers, magazines, and African American organizations. Click "Watch in Panopto" for the best video quality.