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American Historical Review Digital Primary Sources

A list from the American Historical Review of open access databases containing digitized primary sources for historical research.

Memoria Chilena (National Library of Chile)
This collection offers digitized documents from the National Library of Chile, focusing on issues of cultural identity in Chile. This Spanish-language resource is multidisciplinary and provides a wide range of information and sources on Chile and Chilean cultural heritage, including primary sources, articles, literary manuscripts, photographs, and more; it can be browsed by place, theme, format, and date.
Regions: Chile
Dates: unknown-present(?)

Biblioteca Digital del Patrimonio Iberoamericano (BDPI) (Asociación de Bibliotecas Nacionales de Iberoamérica)
“BDPI is a project launched by the Asociación de Bibliotecas Nacionales de Iberoamérica (ABINIA). Its objective is the creation of a portal which provides access, from a single search point, to the digital resources of all the participating libraries.” The project’s proposed goal is to provide “free access to the Ibero-American digital cultural heritage,” promoting digitization of library collections across Latin America.
Regions: Latin America; Spain; Portugal
Dates: 1450-present

Latin American Travelogues (Brown University)
As part of Prof. James N. Green’s Latin American history courses at Brown University, “the goal of this project is to create a digital collection of Latin American travel accounts written in the 16th–19th centuries. The works selected are linked to critical essays produced by undergraduate students who are enrolled in Prof. Green’s courses on Latin American history. This site will serve as a free-access visual and research tool for students and scholars alike. The main purpose of the project is to integrate Brown’s Latin American special collections into the classroom; to introduce students to their research value; to promote them as an undergraduate research tool; to make them freely accessible world-wide; and to preserve them for a future generation of scholars.”
Regions: Latin America
Dates: 1500-1900

Casa Comum (Fundação Mário Soares e Maria Barroso)
This expansive open-access portal, hosted by the Mário Soares and Maria Barroso Foundation, is dedicated to sharing the cultural, political, and scientific heritage of twentieth-century Portugal. Visitors can access a broad range of Portuguese archival sources related to historical figures, events, movements, and more. Primary digital sources are available for browsing or download, well organized and complete with Portuguese-language descriptions and other helpful notes.
Regions: Brazil; Other Portuguese-speaking countries
Dates: c. 16th c.-20th c.

Biblioteca Brasiliana Guita e Jose Mindlin (Biblioteca Brasiliana Guita e José Mindlin)
This repository contains an extensive digitized collection of items gathered by José and Guita Mindlin and housed at the University of São Paulo; it contains historical and cultural works related to Brazil, including literary documents, manuscripts, drawings, and maps. The Portuguese-language repository has items from the sixteenth century to the present day, with a large collection of nineteenth-century items.
Regions: Brazil
Dates: 1521-present

Digital Library of the Caribbean (Various repositories)
“Includes newspapers, official documents, ecological and economic data, maps, histories, travel accounts, literature, poetry, musical expressions, and artifacts. dLOC now provides access to 2.6 million pages of content related to the Caribbean . . . The founding partners—Archives Nationale d’Haïti; Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM); National Library of Jamaica; La Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE); Universidad de Oriente, Venezuela; University of the Virgin Islands; Florida International University; University of Central Florida; University of Florida—officially established the Digital Library of the Caribbean on 17 July 2004.”
Regions: Caribbean
Dates: 1542-present

Primeros Libros de las Américas: Impresos Americanos del Siglo XVI en las Bibliotecas del Mundo (Consortium of repositories)
"A digital collection of the first books printed in the Americas before 1601 ... Of the 220 editions believed to have been produced in Mexico and 20 in Peru, approximately 155 are represented in institutions around the world."
Regions: Latin America; Mexico
Dates: 1544-1601

Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (Tulane University)
This site contains links to open-access digitized sources on Latin America and the Caribbean. Links are categorized by either general region or country and include textual, visual, statistical, and miscellaneous sources.
Regions: Latin America; Caribbean
Dates: 1559-present

Resgate (Biblioteca Nacional, Brasil)
This site contains digitized versions of correspondence of the Overseas Archive in Lisbon related to colonial Brazil.
Regions: Brazil; Portugal
Dates: 1585-1833

Ticha (Haverford College)
“Ticha allows users to access and explore many interlinked layers of texts from a corpus of Colonial Valley Zapotec manuscripts and printed books, including images of the original documents, transcriptions, translations, and linguistic analysis, including morphological interlinearization. Ticha seeks to make this corpus of Colonial Zapotec texts accessible to scholars in diverse fields, Zapotec community members, and the general public.”
Regions: Mexico
Dates: 1633-1832

Arquivo Público do Estado de São Paulo (Governo do Estado de São Paulo)
Translated from the description for the digital repository, “The Public Archive of the State of São Paulo (APESP) makes available in its digital repository documents, albums, photographs, periodicals, books, newspapers, magazines, maps, and other materials.” Users can browse by types of material and use a search feature to locate primary source documents and materials that document the history of immigration and political activity in São Paulo, as well as other topics.
Regions: Brazil
Dates: 1653-1999

Archiving Antigua (Moravian Archives, Bethlehem; Digital Library of the Caribbean)
Archiving Antigua features documents digitized from the holdings of the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and includes membership catalogues, baptismal registers, marriage records, exclusions registers, school records, landscape views, maps and surveys, diaries, and photographs.
Regions: Antigua
Dates: 1760-1948

Slavery and Revolution (Cambridge University Library; Institute of Commonwealth Studies Library)
“This site uses a blogging format to showcase excerpts from letters written by Simon Taylor (1739–1813), a slaveholder and plantation owner who lived in Jamaica at a time when the institution of slavery dominated the economy and daily life on the island ... Each excerpt is accompanied by the full reference to the item from which it has been drawn in the Vanneck-Arcedeckne collection in Cambridge University Library or the Taylor Family Papers in the Institute of Commonwealth Studies Library.”
Regions: Caribbean; Jamaica
Dates: 1781-1807

A Colony in Crisis: The Saint-Domigue Grain Shortage of 1789 (University of Maryland)
"The website is designed as a digital document reader in translation, as it provides online access to primary sources in the original French, but also offers expanded content in the form of an historical introduction and English translation of each document, which are reviewed by the site’s Board of Advisors. The featured sources explore issues surrounding the grain shortage said to be threatening the colony of Saint Domingue in 1789."
Regions: Haiti; France; Caribbean; United States; Atlantic World
Dates: 1784-1791

A Colony in Crisis: The Saint-Domigue Grain Shortage of 1789 (Various repositories; University of Maryland Libraries)
“The website is designed to provide online access to both the French originals and the English translations of key primary sources dealing with the grain shortage faced by the colony of Saint-Domingue in 1789 . . . Alongside the French original, each translation is presented with a brief historical introduction to situate the reader in the time period . . . These pamphlets are primarily drawn from the University of Maryland’s Special Collections, although related items available at other institutions have been included as well.”
Regions: Caribbean; Saint-Domingue; Haiti
Dates: 1784-1791

Aaron Thomas: The Caribbean Journal of a Royal Navy Seaman (University of Miami Libraries Special Collections Division)
“The journal of Aaron Thomas .. . is a 374 page leather-bound volume containing approximately 367 pages of handwritten material. The journal .. . chronicles the experiences and adventures of a British seaman serving in the Royal Navy aboard HMS Lapwing in the West Indies during the French Revolutionary wars.”
Regions: England; Caribbean
Dates: 1798-1799

Cuba Material (María A. Cabrera Arús)
This project provides textual and visual sources documenting the history of Cuba from the colonial to the post-Communist period. Sources are categorized by period and easily searchable, with explicit focus placed on the Soviet, Socialist, and Cold War eras.
Regions: Cuba
Dates: 1800s-present

Coleccion Puertorriquena (Sistema de Bibliotecas de la Universidad de Puerto Rico)
This digital portal provides access to digitized primary sources and documentary information on the historical and sociocultural heritage of Puerto Rico, sourced from the Puerto Rican Collection at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. Designed for both scholars and general audiences, this Spanish-language portal includes digitized newspapers, magazines, printed governmental materials, literary manuscripts, and a wide range of images, maps, drawings, and more.
Regions: Puerto Rico; United States; Caribbean
Dates: 1807-present

La Gazette Royale d'Hayti (Marlene L. Daut)
“The La Gazette Royale project . . . is designed to gather together and in one place for the first time all of the known issues of the two newspapers published during Henry Christophe’s rule of northern Haiti, as well as the six different versions of the Almanach Royal d’Hayti issued by the royal press. The most comprehensive collection of La Gazette Officielle de l’état d’Hayti and La Gazette Royale d’Hayti to appear in a single repository, there are 97 separate issues gathered on this website.” The project “also proposes to take visitors on a digital journal through Haiti’s early print culture by providing brief descriptions and commentaries to accompany each publication. Some of these entries may provide summaries of specific articles featured in that week’s newspaper; others, call our attention to important concurrent historical circumstances; and still others point out significant individuals, laws, literary elements, or changes of print format that might help guide readers in their own exploration of these remarkable documents.”
Regions: Haiti
Dates: 1807-1820

Central American Broadsides (University of Kansas)
This collection consists of broadsides that "are primarily Guatemalan, with a smaller number from Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Many pertain to national and local politics and include election materials, political manifestos, and government pronouncements."
Regions: Central America
Dates: 1810-1960

Latin American Pamphlet Digital Collection (Harvard University Library)
"Scarce and unique Latin American pamphlets published during the 19th and the early 20th centuries ... that document the emergence of the Latin American colonies as independent states, and illuminate many aspects of their populations’ social and cultural life ... Chile, Cuba, Bolivia and Mexico are the countries most heavily represented in this collection."
Regions: Latin America; Caribbean
Dates: 1816-1916

Sistema Nactional De Bibliotecas Costa Rica (National Library of Costa Rica)
This site offers more than 120,000 editions of over 520 Costa Rican newspapers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as ABC, Agricultor Nacional, La Verdad, and La Republica.
Regions: Costa Rica
Dates: 1834-2000

Digital Archive of the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive (The University of Texas at Austin)
Digitized Spanish documents from the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive.
Regions: Guatemala
Dates: 1870-1997

Cultural Magazines of Latin America (Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut)
Collection of digitized cultural magazines published in Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, and Puerto Rico.
Regions: Latin America
Dates: 1880-1930

Caribbean Newspaper Digital Library (Digital Library of the Caribbean and the University of Curaça)
Digitized versions of newspapers, gazettes, and other research materials on newsprint from the Caribbean and circum-Caribbean in Spanish, English, French, Dutch, and Portuguese.
Regions: Caribbean; Circum-Caribbean
Dates: 1884-present

The Sandino Rebellion, Nicaragua, 1927-1934: A Documentary History (Michael J. Schroeder)
This website is “a comprehensive, interpretive, open-access digital archive on the nationalist rebellion against US military intervention in Nicaragua led by Augusto C. Sandino in the 1920s and ’30s. Rigorous accuracy, judicious interpretation, and the democratization of knowledge rank among its most important guiding principles . . . . This website houses and integrates more than 4,850 archival documents on the rebellion, comprising around 12,000 pages of hard-copy text & images, with a good portion of the text transcribed and fully searchable . . . . It also lists and identifies the archival locations of another 5,000 or so documents, together comprising over 15,000 pages of text.”
Regions: Nicaragua
Dates: 1891-1984

Documents of 20th-Century Latin American and Latino Art (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas)
CHAR(34),"Primary sources and critical documents tracing the development of twentieth-century art in Latin America and among Latino populations in the United States.",CHAR(34),
Regions: Caribbean; Latin America; United States
Dates: 1900-2000

The Sandino Rebellion (Michael J. Schroeder)
This website currently houses over 4,200 primary documents in an open-access, interpretive digital historical archive focusing on the period of the nationalist rebellion against U.S. military intervention in Nicaragua led by Augusto C. Sandino in the 1920s and 1930s.
Regions: Nicaragua
Dates: 1927-1934

Digital Archive of Latin American and Caribbean Ephemera (Princeton University)
A steadily growing collection of digitized pamphlets, flyers, leaflets, brochures, posters, and other ephemeral materials originally created by a wide array of social activists, non-governmental organizations, government agencies, political parties, and other types of organizations based across the region. Topics represented include agrarian and rural issues, arts and culture, children and youth, economics, education, environment and ecology, gender issues, health, human and civil rights, labor, minorities, politics and government, religion, science and technology, socioeconomic conditions and development, and tourism in Latin America. Materials from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, and Venezuela are currently the most abundant.
Regions: Latin America; Caribbean
Dates: 1947-present

Opening the Archives (Brown University)
“Dedicated to digitizing and indexing U.S. government documents related to Brazil from the 1960s–1980s, Opening the Archives is an ongoing effort to make primary sources available to the public. Student researchers, under the leadership of Professor James N. Green, have scanned thousands of records from the presidential libraries of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan, as well as the State Department, USAID, the Peace Corps, among other institutions and organizations. With the ultimate goal of publishing 100,000 records, the project reflects Brown University’s deep commitment to fostering collaborative relationships in the study of Brazil while strengthening the university’s goal of becoming a leading center for the study of Brazil in the United States.”
Regions: Brazil; United States
Dates: 1960-1986

Brasil: Nuca Mais Digit@l Project (Various repositories)
This digital project is an archive of hundreds of thousands of pages of legal and judicial proceedings collected after the fall of the Brazilian military dictatorship in 1985, many of the documents describing human rights violations against defendants and political prisoners. Over seven hundred cases have been summarized, and extensive photograph albums share police photographs taken while monitoring social movements.
Regions: Brazil
Dates: 1964-1985

The Death of Che Guevara: Declassified (National Security Archive, George Washington University)
This digital document collection contains “a selection of key CIA, State Department, and Pentagon documentation relating to [Che] Guevara and his death.” The now-declassified U.S. intelligence and military documents reveal “significant and valuable information on the high-level U.S. interest in tracking [Guevara’s] revolutionary activities, and U.S. and Bolivian actions leading up to his death.”
Regions: Latin America; United States
Dates: 1965-1967

Latin American Posters Collection (Princeton University)
“The posters included in this collection were created by a wide variety of social activists, non-governmental organizations, government agencies, political parties, and other types of organizations across Latin America, in order to publicize their views, positions, agendas, policies, events, and services. Even though posters produced in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, and Venezuela are the most abundant among the more than two thousand currently available in the site, almost every country in the region is represented. In terms of topics, some of the best represented are human rights, elections, gender issues, indigenous issues, labor, ecology and environmental issues, development, public health, and education.”
Regions: Latin America
Dates: 1970-2010

Records Relating to Human Rights Abuses in Argentina (National Archives)
“A Presidential Tasking from the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (NSC) on June 13, 2016, directed various Executive branch departments and agencies, including the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), to search for records relating to human rights abuses committed in Argentina between January 1, 1975, and December 31, 1984, and to review responsive records for public access. In response, NARA assembled staff, including archivists from the National Declassification Center (NDC), the Presidential Libraries, and the Center for Legislative Archives to conduct this search and review.” This archive makes these records publicly available with a searchable interface, and it includes governmental intelligence reports, memos, letters, telegrams, and cables.
Regions: Argentina
Dates: 1975-1984

Chilean Protest Murals (Harvard University Library)
The Chilean Protest Murals Photograph Collection catalogues over five hundred digitized images of Chilean protest murals that were created during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, most of which were soon destroyed by government authorities.
Regions: Chile
Dates: 1983-1990

Linhas de Luta: Cartos ao Presidente Lula (Various historians)
This digital collection contains thousands of letters written to former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003– 2010) following his imprisonment in 2018. Written in solidarity by citizens from across Brazil, “the letters, translated into English, French, Spanish, and Italian, are directed toward anyone in the world who is searching for other points of view about the tragedy Brazil is living today.”
Regions: Brazil
Dates: 2018-2018