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Origins of Capitalism: Primary Sources

Hist/Econ 351

Searching DiscoverE for Primary Sources

A primary source is a document, recording or other source of information created at the time being studied, by an authoritative source, usually one with direct personal knowledge of the events being described.

Primary sources include diaries, letters, family records, statistics, speeches, interviews, autobiographies, film, government documents, or original scientific research.

Try searching disvcoverE for primary sources. It will allow to you limit by language.

British India History Sources.

Slavery Sources

Colonies Personal Narratives


Using Databases to Find Articles

Databases like JSTOR, LexisNexis, and Academic Search Complete provide citations and/or full text of journal articles, books, and other materials. Emory University Libraries pay for access to the contents of more than 400 databases. See our Databases page for a complete listing. For help with searching databases, see our Finding Articles at Woodruff research guide.

Access from off-campus is available only to current Emory University students, faculty and staff, and requires an Emory Network ID and password.

Government Documents

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP) (1701-1900)

Full-text digital copies of British Parliamentary publications including Hansard, official parliamentary debates, and the British sessional papers, the working papers of government. Extremely important primary sources for British, European, U.S. and world history.

State Papers Online (1509-1714)

This digital manuscript archive gathers together 16th- and 17th-century British State Papers and links them to their fully text-searchable calendars, offering scholars unprecedented access to the behind-the-scenes workings of the Tudor and Stuart governments.

Primary Source Databases

Emory University makes a good deal of primary sources available to students in a digital format. To see the complete list of primary source databases available to students, click here

Below you will find a select list of databases that are particularly appropriate for your coursework. This list is not exhaustive.

British Online Archives
This series brings together a wealth of collections spanning two centuries of Britain's colonisation, commercial, missionary and even literary relations with Africa and the Americas. It includes materials such as journals, correspondence, official records and personal papers spanning two centuries of Britain's colonial, commercial, missionary and literary relations with Africa , India and the Americas.

China: Trade, Politics & Culture 1793-1980
This database provides English-language sources relating to China and the West from 1793 to 1980. Key documents relating to the Chinese Maritime Customs service, from Robert Hart to Frederick Maze are accessible and searchable alongside original reports of the Amherst and Macartney embassies. There are letters relating to the first Opium War, survivors descriptions of the Boxer War.

Defining Gender, 1450-1910
Defining Gender is a collection of original source materials from British and European archives. Documents from 21 libraries are thematically organized by areas: Conduct and Politeness, Domesticity and the Family, Consumption and Leisure, Education and Sensibility, and The Body.

Empire Online
Primary sources on colonial history, politics, culture and society from 1492 to the 21st century. Letter books and correspondence; Periodicals; Diaries; Official Government Papers; Missionary papers; Travel writing; Slave papers; Memoirs; Fiction; Children's Adventure Stories; Traditional; folk tales; Exhibition Catalogues and guides; Maps; Marketing Posters; Photographs; and Illustrations. Indexing by period, by date, by person and subject.

Global Commodities: Trade, Exploration and Cultural Exchange
The Global Commodities database provides primary source materials arranged around fifteen major trade goods from world history such as chocolate, coffee, cotton, and opium. The project touches on themes of exploration and discovery; imperialism and colonialism; trade wars; translocation and economic geography; slavery; taste; and the evolution of global branding. The resource complements and integrates with the Empire Online database.

India, Raj and Empire
Manuscript Collections from the National Library of Scotland documenting this history from the foundation of the East India Company in 1615 to the granting of independence for India and Pakistan in 1947. Sources range from the papers of key East India Company representatives and colonial officials to records of daily life in Agra, Bombay, Lahore, and Madras.

History Vault
The History Vault is a searchable database of online historical documents and digitized microfilm collections.Relevant collections for this course include:

• Southern Life and African American History Part I, 1775-1915, Plantation Records, (digitized selections from the microfilm collection Records of Southern Antebellum Plantations and Records of Southern Plantations from the Great Migration),
• Slavery & the Law

Making of the Modern World (Goldsmiths'-Kress)
This digitized version of Goldsmiths'-Kress Library of Economic Literature is the most comprehensive collection for researching the literature of economics and business from 1450 to 1850.

Making of Modern Law
Searchable full-text collection of 22,000 treatises on American and British Commonwealth law published between 1800 and 1926.

Sabin Americana
Sabin Americana, 1500–1926 is a fully searchable online collection of books, pamphlets, serials and other works about the Americas, from the time of their discovery to the early 1900s. Sabin Americana, 1500–1926 is rich in original accounts of discovery and exploration, pioneering and westward expansion, the U.S. Civil War and other military actions, Native Americans, slavery and abolition, religious history and more.

Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice, 1490-2007
An important portal for slavery and abolition studies, this database brings together documents and collections covering the period 1490-2007 from libraries and archives across the Atlantic world. Subjects include varieties of slavery, the legacy of slavery, the social justice perspective and the continued existence of slavery today.

Travel Writing, Spectacle and World History
This database contains primary source accounts by women of their travels across the globe from the early 19th century to the late 20th century. Documents span from 1818-1970 and cover topics such as: architecture; art; the British Empire; climate; customs; exploration; family life; housing; industry; language; monuments; natural history; politics; race; religion; science; and war.

Virginia Company Archives
Includes the complete Ferrar Papers held in Magdalene College, Cambridge; transcripts by David R. Ransome of documents relating to the Virginia Company; and Susan Kingsbury’s Records of the Virginia Company of London (1906-35). Documents the founding, economic development, and ethnic and gender composition of early Virginia, relations among colonists and Native Americans, and the Ferrar family’s interest in the settlement of North America.

Newspaper databases

Times Digital Archive (1785 to 1985)

The Times Digital Archive offers full page and article images of the Times (London) with searchable full text, including searchable advertisements and photographs, back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue. This archive does not include the Sunday Times, a newspaper independent of the Times.

17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers (1604 to 1800)

The largest single collection of 17th and 18th century English news media available from the British Library. The collection includes more than 1000 pamphlets, proclamations, newsbooks and newspapers from the period. The collection covers more than 200 years of accounts from newspapers from England, Ireland, Scotland and a handful of papers from British colonies in the Americas and Asia.

19th Century British Library Newspapers Digital Archive (1801-1900)

This database consists of full-text national and regional newspapers from Victorian Britain, digitized from the collection of the British Library. It is the sister product to 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers (1604-1800).

America's Historical Newspapers  (1690-1922)

Cover-to-cover, fully searchable and browsable facsimile reproductions of over 1000 historic U.S. newspapers from all 50 states.

Historical Times of India

Primary source journal and literature databases

19th Century British Pamphlets 

This collection contains the most significant British pamphlets from the 19th century held in UK research libraries. More than 20,000 pamphlets from seven UK institutions provide an immensely rich and coherent corpus of primary sources with which to study the socio-political and economic landscape of 19th century Britain. A good number of these pamphlets cover topics germane to the French Revolution.

British Periodicals I (1691-1937)

British Periodicals Collection I consists of more than 160 journals that comprise the UMI microfilm collection Early British Periodicals, the equivalent of 5,238 printed volumes containing approximately 3.1 million pages. Topics covered include literature, philosophy, history, science, the fine arts and the social sciences.

Early American Imprints, Series I. Evans (1639-1800)
Based on Charles Evans' American Bibliography, this database, when complete, will contain a digitized version of more than 36,000 works published in this country between 1639 and 1800.

Early American Imprints, Series II. Shaw-Shoemaker (1801-1819)
The continuation of Readex's Early American Imprints: Series I, this rich primary source database is based on the authoritative bibliography by Ralph B. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (1701-1800)

Digital images of every page of 150,000 books published during the 18th Century. With full-text searching of approximately 33 million pages, Eighteenth Century Collections Online allows researchers new methods of access to critical information in the fields of history, literature, religion, law, fine arts, science and more.

Eighteenth Century Journals (1685-1815)

This portal to newspapers and periodicals provides full-text access to rare British newspapers and periodicals from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Gallica Digital Library

Gallica is the digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. It has lots of both primary and secondary sources.

Google Book Search

Google Book Search provides access to full-text primary sources in the public domain.

HathiTrust Digital Library

HathiTrust is a very large scale collaborative repository of digital content from research libraries including content digitized via the Google Books project and Internet Archive digitization initiatives, as well as content digitized locally by libraries.

Nineteenth Century Collections Online
Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO) is a full-text database of primary sources from the 19th Century, including monographs, newspapers, pamphlets, manuscripts, ephemera, maps, statistics, and more.

Subject Guide

Chella Vaidyanathan's picture
Chella Vaidyanathan
Emory University
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