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History Day

History Day Resources

Primary Sources

What are primary sources?

   1814 resolution pertaining to victims of New Madrid earthquake

Primary source materials are works created at or near the time of the event. The picture to the left is an example of a primary source related to the New Madrid Earthquake of 1811. Several sites provide access to primary sources, including:


You can learn more about primary sources on the Internet from the Reference and User Services Division of the American Library Association:

How to Access Library Resources

Off-Campus Access

  • Off-campus access to eBooks, articles, and other materials display a lock icon  and are available to SEMO students with a current SE Key and password. On campus access is available within Kent Library.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) 

  • Request books and digital copies of journal articles from libraries world-wide.
  • This service is free of charge to Southeast Missouri State University patrons. 
  • Public libraries provide interlibrary loan services to community patrons.

Special Collections and Archives in Kent Library  

  • Contact Special Collections & Archives in Kent Library on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University to see if there is information about your History Day topic. Special Collections and Archives contain research materials that document the historical and cultural experience of Southeast Missouri, the Mississippi River Valley region, and the history of Southeast Missouri State University. All materials are freely available and open to the public.

    Please contact us at:

    Telephone: 573.651.2245

    Monday – Friday: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
    Open all other times by appointment only.

Primary Sources for History Day projects

Library Catalog: Search Tips

Primary sources can be found by searching library catalogs:

Some common search terms for primary sources are:

  • Autobiographies—mostly used for collections of autobiographical works.
  • Correspondence—used for letters between people.
  • Diaries—attached to personal names or categories of people.
  • Letters—follows name.  Used less frequently than "correspondence." 
  • Personal Narratives—Used for sources such as memoirs, oral histories, and interviews.
  • Sources—catch-all term; often used in collections with many types of primary sources.


Macon Chronicle Herald 1939-02-03

Macon Chronicle-Herald 1939 article.

Newspapers could be considered a primary source if they were published at the time the event occurred.

Below are searchable newspaper databases with full text. Some will also contain:

  • ​TV and radio transcripts 
  • blogs 
  • podcasts




State & Local Collections

National Collections