Finding Primary Sources at the State Library of Pennsylvania
Library holds many primary as well as secondary sources to support research. Discover them using a number of search tools
available on our website.
The most important question to ask
when beginning research is what type of source is needed: primary or secondary.
A primary source
is an original writing, document,
report, eyewitness account or object prepared by the participants in an
historical event. It is a first-hand
- A secondary
source is a document written about a
primary source that reports, discusses or interprets the information it
The Digital Collections of the State Library provide many
original primary source documents from Benjamin Franklin, Pennsylvania state
documents collections, historic Pennsylvania newspapers; sources about President Abraham Lincoln,
Pennsylvania coal mining, Pennsylvania’s native Americans, Civil War regimental
histories, World War I, and more.
don’t forget to check out the State Library of Pennsylvania’s rich newspaper resources. The State Library has the largest collection
of Pennsylvania newspapers with over 100,000 reels of microfilm; many of which
can be sent to another library through interlibrary loan. In addition, for researchers onsite at the
Library, there are numerous online newspaper databases available such as:
American Newspapers, 1690-1875
New York Times, 1851-2011
- ProQuest databases
for the Historical Philadelphia Tribune,
Pittsburgh Courier, and Wall Street
place to look for secondary sources is Power Library. Power Library also has an extensive photo
collection from the Associated Press. AP Images is a great place to locate
primary source photos.
the State Library, resources to check include Internet Archive and the Digital Public Library of America. As
more institutions digitize collections, repositories such as these give access
to fascinating collections of both primary and secondary sources for research.