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Latin American History

What are primary sources?

image of rare book in SpanishPrimary sources are first-hand testimonies from sources who witnessed or experienced an event firsthand (examples can include a letter, newspaper article, a photograph, a diary, etc). Primary sources are an attempt to get as close to the events being studied as possible. So, while certain primary sources may be recorded after the fact, such as oral histories, they still capture someone’s first-hand experiences from the past, and are therefore primary sources.

If you can access an original primary source in person, great! If you can’t, primary source materials of all kinds are available in reproduction. Primary sources are characterized by their content, regardless of whether they are available in the original format, in digital format, or published on paper. You can find them in books, journals, and magazines, as well as in online databases. 


Digitized Primary Source Collections

  • Latin American & Caribbean Digital Primary Resources (SALALM)
    The Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM) has published an extensive listing of open access digitized collections of primary sources that relate to Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently, the listings may be searched by country, genre/format, hosting institution, and collection title.
  • Biblioteca Americana
    The American Library of the Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library aims to make known the most representative authors and works of Latin American literature of all time. On this portal you can consult a wide catalog of works , an important collection of magazines , manuscripts , videos , audios , images , author libraries , historical figures , thematic projects as well as the main Latin American institutions with which we have developed projects.
  • Digital Archive of Latin American and Carribean Ephemera
    The Digital Archive of Latin American and Caribbean Ephemera is a steadily growing repository containing a previously unavailable subset of Princeton’s Latin American Ephemera Collection as well as newly acquired materials being digitized and added on an ongoing basis
  • Independent and Revolutionary Mexican Newspapers
    Digital archive of nearly 1,000 newspapers from Mexico’s pre-independence, independence and revolutionary periods (1807-1929). Part of the Global Press Archive.
  • John Carter Brown Library
    View digitized rare books from their collections.
  • Biblioteca Digital del Patroimonio Iberoamericano
    Portal to digital collections of many Latin American national libraries
  • Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen
    Citizen-driven, the MUPI is in charge of saving important and valuable audiovisual archives, which were inside and outside of El Salvador, in addition to the recordings of the daily programs of Radio Venceremos, the clandestine radio station that during 11 years of civil war transmitted from the mountains of Morazán. The photo archive is of particular note. CW: war, death. In Spanish and English. --Website

Historic Map Collections

Primary Source Anthologies

An anthology can contain original poems, photographs, and source documents that count as primary sources for historical or topic analysis.