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Primary Source Document resources

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Many of the databases that HCPL subscribes to contain primary source documents. Databases are listed in alphabetical order except for the first two which are widely used and have been placed at the top of the list. When selecting one of the databases, you will be prompted to enter your library card number if you are accessing it from outside of the libraries’ buildings.

Newspaper and magazine databases

Newspaper and magazine/journal articles are primary sources. HCPL offers the following databases which specialize in newspapers/journals/magazines:

  • General OneFile – spans the past 25 years. In addition to articles, you may find pictures, travel narratives, conference notes, advertisements and videos of several network news station programs such as The Today Show.
  • Newspapers – another source containing full-text newspaper articles from 1980 to the present.
  • Historical U.S. Newspapers - full-text and full-image articles for significant U.S. newspapers dating back to the 18th century. Includes The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post.
  • Harper’s Weekly: 1857 – 1912 - the definitive online version of this newspaper for the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, providing insight into the political, sociological, cultural, and economic issues of the day. The database includes over 75,000 illustrations, cartoons, maps and portraits.

History databases

  • Ancient and Medieval History Online – covers six ancient centers of civilizations--Africa, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Mesoamerica, Mesopotamia and time periods ranging from 3 to 5 million years ago through 1522. Choose your topic from the “Topic Centers” and you will find Primary Sources in the sidebar on the right.
  • History Reference Center – you can do an Advanced Search and select Primary Source Document in the Publication Type box. Or, you can do a basic search. Once your results appear, you can refine your search (left sidebar) to just primary sources by selecting that box under Source Types and clicking “update.”
  • U.S. History in Context and/or World History in Context – you can choose either U.S. History in Context or World History in Context. Select your topic. The landing page will have a link to the Primary Sources.

Other specialized databases

  • Biography in Context - comprehensive reference database of biographical information on more than 180,000 people from throughout history, around the world, and across all disciplines. In addition to any articles/videos, etc., available on an individual, you can search for a primary source using the advanced search. Put the name of the person in the search box, and then scroll down to Content Type and check Primary Sources and search.
  • Literature Resource Center - provides biographical and bibliographical information on authors and their works. From the homepage, you can narrow your search on a particular author or work to primary sources by clicking the box next to Primary Sources and Literary Works.
  • Points of View Reference Center – research controversial topics to learn all sides of the debate. Once you have selected your topic and have gotten the results relating to your topic, you will see that one of the tabs at the top of the page is Primary Source Documents. Any related primary documents will be found by clicking that tab.
  • Science Reference Center – do an advanced search, and, along with your search terms, select Primary Source Document for the Publication Type.

General databases covering most academic subjects

  • Discovering Collection - aimed at middle school and high school students, with content based on national curriculum standards in major subject areas such as history, literature, science and social studies. Use the Advance Search; type in your topic and select Primary Sources in the “by Context type” box.
  • Student Resources in Context – for middle and high school students. Use the Advance Search; type in your topic and select Primary Sources in the “by Context type” box.
  • World Book – general encyclopedia. Click on Advanced Search. Along with your search terms, you can choose historical maps. You can also choose “Back in Time.” This feature allows you to read an original World Book article on a topic as it was first written during the year of the event. The article reflects the style and thinking of that time.

Web Sites for Primary Sources

Oral History

Harford Living Treasures Oral History: over 209 oral histories have been collected from various Harford County Living Treasures as recordings and transcripts of the interviews. In some cases, video or photographs are also included. These are housed in the Bel Air Branch and can be found in our online catalog. Type “Harford Living Treasures” into the search box of our catalog.

Any Harford County resident who is at least 70 years old, and has lived in the county for at least 40 years, can be nominated as a Harford Living Treasure. Harford County Living Treasures oral history interviews are being digitized in audio and/or video format and published on the Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage (MDCH) website.