Smithsonian Primary Sources in U.S. History: “A Treasure Trove”

History is not just a list of dates and events. But history taught well is vibrant, relevant, and engaging. And nothing brings history to life like primary sources that give students a close-up look at history as it unfolded.

Gale and Smithsonian have partnered to deliver an online resource that includes unique and seminal primary sources, including documents, maps, historical objects, and other materials from the museums and archives from the collections of the Smithsonian and from Gale’s leading digital collections: Smithsonian Primary Sources in U.S. History.

Designed for use by both teachers and librarians, this resource from Gale supports core and Advanced Placement U.S. history programs. Primary source images are hand-curated by scholars at the Smithsonian – experts who have a unique knowledge of U.S. history as seen through the Smithsonian’s valuable collections and shaped for the school curriculum by an advisory board of teachers.

See how a reviewer feels about the collection of Primary Sources.


“This database is a treasure trove for students, teachers, curriculum writers, and researchers looking for authenticated primary source documents. Content has been aligned with standard secondary American history courses and units. Users have 3 options to access the more than 4,000 items: browsing by era, searching by state or national standard, or using a traditional search option. The site is graphic-rich, intuitive, and exceptionally user-friendly. . . . Choices present a satisfying collection of historical landmark documents plus entertaining ephemera: posters, sheet music, campaign buttons, advertisements, and so forth. All this is backed up by the standard Gale support of “Educator Resources” and “Student Research Toolkits.” This engaging database is a very effective supplemental teaching and learning tool. On the one hand, it’s useful for demonstrating the sometimes serendipitous nature of artifact preservation. On the other, it’s a browser’s delight, offering surprising historical insights that connect us with our past. Recommended for middle-school, high-school, and community-college collections.”

Booklist, November 2016

1 House Trailer. United States: n.p, 1934. Smithsonian Primary Sources in U.S. History. Web. 13 Sept. 2016.

Give students a blast from the past by requesting a trial!

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