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LTCS 250: Native American Literature: Primary Sources (Not Literary)

Resources for Native American Literature & Culture

Finding Primary Sources in Roger

There is not a single Library of Congess subject heading "Primary Sources," partly because there is no uniform definition of "primary" for all disciplines. However, the sub-heading "Sources" is frequently used at the end of any subject heading to help identify what are essentially primary sources.  Often, the editions cataloged with these subject headings may be modern compilations of historical documents. For example:

The subject heading "Indians of North America--History--Sources" leads to a book such as The Elders Wrote: An Anthology of Early Prose by North American Indians, 1768-1931, ed. Bernd Peyer (Berlin: Reimer, 1982). 

Some additional  sub-headings that may signal a scholarly edition, compilation, anthology, facsimile, or reprint of a primary source relating to the subject heading are:

  • "--Early Works to 1800"
  • "--Facsimiles"
  • "--Laws, Etc."
  • "--Manuscripts"
  • "--Maps"
  • "--Personal Narratives"
  • "--Treaties"


Online Collections of Primary Sources (Not Literary)

Compiled by Kelly Smith, UCSD Government Information Librarian

  • AIM and Wounded Knee Documents
  • Scanned images of documents from the American Indian Movement, with a focus on Wounded Knee.
  • American Indians of the Pacific Northwest Collection
    Digital collection of original photographs and documents about the Northwest Coast and Plateau Indian cultures.
  • American Memory: Native American History*
    Collections from the Library of Congress.
  • Documents Relating to Indian Affairs
    The collection currently includes "Documents Relating to the Negotiation of Ratified and Unratified Treaties With Various Indian Tribes, 1801-1869" and the "Office of Indian Affairs, Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs." Includes instructions to treaty commissioners, reports, letters, and in some cases copies of the treaties.
  • Doris Duke Collection, Western American History Collections, U. of Oklahoma
    "Provides access to typescripts of interviews (1967 -1972) conducted with hundreds of Indians in Oklahoma regarding the histories and cultures of their respective nations and tribes. Related are accounts of Indian ceremonies, customs, social conditions, philosophies, and standards of living."
  • Early Encounters in North America  Icon
    This release contains 1,482 authors and over 100,000 pages of material: letters, diaries, memoirs and accounts of early encounters in North America. The collection is centered on present-day Canada and the U. S. with limited coverage of Mexico.
  • Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian: Photographic Images
    "The North American Indian by Edward S. Curtis is one of the most significant and controversial representations of traditional American Indian culture ever produced... In over 2000 photogravure plates and narrative, Curtis portrayed the traditional customs and lifeways of eighty Indian tribes."
  • First Nations Tribal Collection
    The First Nations Collection of the Southern Oregon Digital Archives consists of documents, books and articles relating to the indigenous peoples of this bioregion.
  • If You Knew the Conditions...: Health Care to Native Americans*
    The online version of an exhibit held at the National Library of Medicine 15 April - 31 August 1994, National Institutes of Health, USA.
  • Kappler's Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties
    Kappler's Indian Affairs is an historically significant, seven volume compilation of U.S. treaties, laws and executive orders pertaining to Native American Indian tribes. The volumes cover U.S. Government treaties with Native Americans from 1778-1883 (Volume II) and U.S. laws and executive orders concerning Native Americans from 1871-1970 (Volumes I, III-VII).
  • Native American Constitution and Law
    Provides access to Constitutions, Tribal Codes and other legal documents.
  • Native American Documents Project
    Texts of documents, mostly from the 19th century, about the history of federal policy concerning native peoples. This project is based at California State University - San Marcos, located in northern San Diego County.
  • Native American Religions
    Texts of Native American religion, mythology and folklore. Part of the larger Internet Sacred Text Archive.
  • Southeastern Native American Documents
    Contains approximately 2000 documents and images relating to the Native American population of the Southeastern United States. The documents are comprised of letters, legal proceedings, military orders, financial papers and archaeological images relating to Native Americans in the Southeast.
  • Treaties between the United States and Native Americans
    Text of treaties adopted between 1778 and 1868.

Archives in Other Libraries

ArchiveGrid. ArchiveGrid is a collection of over two million archival material descriptions, including MARC records from WorldCat and finding aids harvested from the web. The simple "search" box almost gets lost -- it's in the upper right corner of this homepage.

WorldCat. The largest bibliographic database in the world, since virtually all North American research libraries and many in Europe, Australia, and other continents use it for their shared cataloging records. For searching for manucript/archival materials, check the box "Archival Materials" in the "Limit Search" area, then search for keywords, subjects, etc. as you would with the database as a whole.

Online Archive of California.OAC identifies and provides access to materials such as manuscripts, photographs, and works of art held in libraries, museums, archives, and other institutions throughout the state of California. Includes detailed finding aids; also images and many digitized texts.