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HIST H220 American Military History

A guide to help students complete their primary source analysis in Prof. Cullather's American Military History class

Primary sources come in many forms. The pictures below show just a few personal accounts from military leaders. Finding historical documents can be both fun and frustrating. This guide should help limit the frustration and make the process more fun.

Old handwritten text, practically illegible

Extracts from Commodore William Bainbridge's Journal, December 29, 1812

Most primary-source databases contain scans of original documents. Sometimes it can be difficult to read the handwritten documents and they are usually not searchable (with some exceptions). This extract documented a naval battle during the War of 1812.

Notepad listing women's clothes

Personal pocket notebook of Captain Jacqueline Merot, 1944-1946

Some obvious and not-so-obvious reasons, the vast majority of military leaders with accessible primary sources were white men. With some digging, though, you can find other voices.

Book cover, elderly man, military hat with 4 stars

General John R. Galvin, USA (Ret.), Fighting the Cold War: A Soldier's Memoir

Of course, many military leaders eventually published a memoir. Many are available as e-books in IUCAT.

Screenshot of a database with lots of text

Memoir of George Brinton McLellan

Some online databases transcribe text, which can make them easier to read and search, but forces you to trust that the transcription was accurate and complete.