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Primary Sources for Twentieth Century America

Primary source databases for the study of 20th century American history.

Portals to Primary Sources

Don't know where to start? Try one of the following database portals. They allow researchers to search  across multipe databases produced by the same publisher.

Image attribution: Flickr, Cutty Sark "question mark"


Digital Manuscript Collections


  • American Periodicals Series Online
    A major primary source collection for historical research. Includes digitized images of American periodicals from the colonial period through the beginning of the 20th century. More than 1,000 periodicals from all fields will be covered in the completed product.
  • Opinion Archives Digital collection of current issues and backfiles of a number of leading U.S. opinion publications including the New Yorker (1925-present), the Nation (1865-present), Commentary (1945-present), the American Spectator (1967-present), the National Review (1955-present), New Republic (1914-present), Commonweal (1924-present), the New York Review of Books (1965-present), and Harper's (1850-present).


Government Documents

  • Hein Online Database of legal journals and various government documents, such as the Foreign Relations of the United States, Federal Register, and League of Nations Official Journal.
  • Public Papers of the Presidents The Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States are published by the Federal Register. It contains materials that were compiled and published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration. It includes volumes covering the administrations of Presidents Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton.
  • US Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1980 Reports, Documents and Journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that have been bound in sequential volumes since 1817.
  • Making of Modern Law, 1832-1978 Collection of 22,000 treatises on American and British Commwealth law.
  • Proquest Congressional, 1789-present Large database of congressional hearings and publications.
  • Federal Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), 1975-1996 Electronic Index Digital index to the daily reports issues by the US government from 1975-1996.
  • Digital National Security Archive Database of searchable, full-text collections of declassified documents in areas of U.S. foreign policy and intelligence.
  • Making of Modern Law, 1832-1978 Collection of 22,000 treatises on American and British Commwealth law.