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Primary Source Document resources


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:

  • Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers - Search the historic newspaper pages from 1860–1922. Users can also find information about newspapers from 1960 to the present.
  • 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.
  • The Historic Maryland Newspapers Project - The Historic Maryland Newspapers Project is an ongoing effort to digitize Maryland's newspapers and make them accessible for free on the Library of Congress' Chronicling America website. Our project is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities' (NEH) National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) grants. As part of the program, we adhere to NDNP standards for title selection and digitization.
  • 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.
  • Newspapers.com extensive online database of 4,000+ historical newspapers from the early 1700s into the 2000s.

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.
  • Gale OneFile: U.S. History - Provides access to scholarly journals and magazines useful to both novice historians as well as advanced academic researchers. Updated daily, this library resource offers balanced coverage of events in U.S. history and scholarly work established in the field.
  • Gale OneFile: World History - provides access to scholarly journals and magazines useful to both novice historians as well as advanced academic researchers. The database offers balanced coverage of events in world history and scholarly work established in the field.

Other specialized databases

  • Academic OneFile Select - covers everything from art and literature to economics and the sciences. This resource for academic research integrates the full text of publications from across the disciplines and now includes vocational/technical titles used by community college students, filling a specific need for curriculum-oriented collections. Gale Academic OneFile Select provides indexing for more than 5,000 periodicals, more than 2,800 in full text without any embargo. The combination of full text for scholarly journals and selected general interest titles for smaller academic libraries is ideal.
  • Gale OneFile Science - researchers can remain current with the latest scientific developments in particle physics, advanced mathematics, nanotechnology, geology, and hundreds of other areas. More than 350 full-text, non-embargoed journals are covered; updated daily, this collection includes more than 1.6 million articles to satisfy almost every scientific inquiry. Key subjects covered include the biological sciences, computing, engineering, and technology.

General databases covering most academic subjects

  • Encyclopaedia Britannica The online Encyclopaedia Britannica offers three levels for searching: one for children, young adults and reference. Britannica Library also offers Original Sources (find the link in the upper right-hand corner). Original Sources has thousands of primary source documents in history, literature, politics, religion and more. Check out our mobile app page for Britannica Library on the go!
  • Gale InContext Middle School - This middle school database provides engaging reference, periodical, and multimedia content supporting national and state curriculum standards for grades 6 to 12 in language arts, social studies, and science. Middle school students will benefit from an interface that delivers a combination of the highly visual design and navigation preferred by younger users as well as the authoritative content and user-focused tool set needed to support middle school assignments and coursework.
  • Gale InContext High School - Integrating reference content, biographies, primary sources, multimedia, critical essays, news, academic journals and more, High School is updated daily, offering nearly 1,000 issue, topic, and geographic pages across the curriculum. Content comes together to provide background and guidance on topics like Government and the Economy, Human Population, Sound and Sound Waves, American Literature, and more.

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.