Featured Primary Sources

Global History and US Foreign Policy

Nothing can enrich and enliven our understanding of the nation’s past, or dispel apathy about it, more powerfully than primary sources. The primary sources below open up a variety of viewpoints and have been chosen by master teachers specifically for use in the classroom. Affiliate School members can print a packet that includes an image of the document, photograph, or other resource, a transcript where applicable, and text to place the document in historical context. Additionally, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

“The Bostonian’s Paying the Excise-man, or Tarring & Feathering,” (GLC04961.01)

A British view of rebellious Boston, 1774

Creator: Philip Dawe Curriculum Subjects: Art, Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels:
San Diego, California, c1904. Detroit Publishing, Library of Congress

A report from Spanish California, 1776

Creator: Fernando de Rivera y Moncada Curriculum Subjects: Foreign Languages, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Agreement between Livingston and Kidd, and Blackham, 1696. (GLC)

A secret agreement between pirate hunters, 1696

Creator: Robert Livingston, William Kidd, and Richard Blackham Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels:
Aaron Burr to Joseph Alston, July 20, 1804 (GLC01523)

Aaron Burr, fugitive and traitor, 1804

Creator: Aaron Burr Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Alexander Hamilton to François, Marquis de Barbé-Marbois, October 12, 1780 (GLC)

Alexander Hamilton’s “gloomy” view of the American Revolution, 1780

Creator: Alexander Hamilton Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Inaugural Parade. Michelle and Barack Obama watch the parade from the viewi

Barack Obama’s First Inaugural Address, 2009

Creator: Barack Obama Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississippi [map of North America], by Guil

Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississipi, 1718

Creator: Guillaume De l’Isle Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels:
 Brett G. Coughlin to Kit, December 26, 1990 (Andrew Carroll/The Legacy Project)

Christmas in Kuwait, 1990

Creator: Brett G. Coughlin Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels:
Theodore Roosevelt to William H. Hunt, September 26, 1901 (Gilder Lehrman Collec

Confirming governors for territories of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, 1901

Creator: Theodore Roosevelt Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
William Mitchell, October 1925 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Div.)

Creating the Air Force, 1924

Creator: William E. Mitchell Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
De Soto's Discovery of the Mississippi, 1858

De Soto’s discovery of the Mississippi, 1541

Creator: Johnson, Fry & Co. Curriculum Subjects: Art, Geography, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Mark Rickert to Merle Kilgore, September 14, 2003. ( Andrew Carroll / The Legacy

Discovering a mass grave in Iraq, 2003

Creator: Mark Rickert Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Lifeboat carrying Titanic shipwreck survivors. (National Archives)

Eyewitness account of the sinking of the Titanic, 1912

Creator: Washington Dodge Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9
First Inaugural Address of Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 4, 1933. (GLC00675)

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inauguration, 1933

Creator: Franklin D. Roosevelt Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics, Literature Grade Levels:
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address at Chautauqua, NY, August 14, 1936. (Gilder Lehrm

Franklin Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy, 1936

Creator: Franklin D. Roosevelt Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels:
Harry S. Truman to Dean Acheson, March 31, 1950. (GLC00782.22)

Harry S. Truman responds to McCarthy, 1950

Creator: Harry S. Truman Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Henry Knox, Order of march to Trenton, December 26, 1776 (Gilder Lehrman Collect

Henry Knox’s Order of March to Trenton, 1776

Creator: Henry Knox Curriculum Subjects: Geography, Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover, ca. 1929 (Library of Congress)

Herbert Hoover’s Inaugural Address, 1929

Creator: Herbert Hoover Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
“The Americanese wall - as Congressman [John Lawson] Burnett would build it ,” 1

Immigration cartoon, 1916

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Geography Grade Levels:
Declaration of War against the United States and Britain [in Japanese], December

Japan declares war, 1941

Creator: Hirohito, Emperor of Japan Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Jefferson on British aggression, 1815

Creator: Thomas Jefferson Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Thomas Jefferson to Marquis de Lafayette, June 16, 1792. (GLC08063p2)

Jefferson on the French and Haitian Revolutions, 1792

Creator: Thomas Jefferson Curriculum Subjects: Geography, Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels:
John F. Kennedy, [Portion of an address], ca. August 12, 1952 (GLC02313)

JFK on the containment of Communism, 1952

Creator: John F. Kennedy Curriculum Subjects: Economics, World History Grade Levels: 13+
Landing of Christopher Columbus, 1856

Landing of Columbus, 1492

Creator: Martin, Johnson & Co. Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Novi Belgi Novaeque Angliae [New Netherland and New England], 1682.

Late seventeenth-century map of the Northeast, 1682

Creator: Nicholas Visscher Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Literacy and the immigration of “undesirables,” 1903

Creator: Immigration Restriction League Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels:
Recens Edita totius Novi Belgii [New Netherland - New York], 1730. (Gilder Lehrm

Map of the New World, with European settlements and American Indian tribes, 1730

Creator: Matthew Seutter Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Our Victorious Fleets in Cuban Waters, 1898. (GLC03534)

Our Victorious Fleets in Cuban Waters, 1898

Creator: Currier & Ives Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Irving Kaplan, Preliminary statement of the Association of Manhattan District Sc

Physicists predict a nuclear arms race, 1945

Creator: Association of Manhattan District Scientists Curriculum Subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, World History Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Henry W. Smith, “Texas Expects Every Man to Do His Duty,” February [28], 1836 (G

Politics and the Texas Revolution, 1836

Creator: Henry W. Smith Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Gerald Ford’s Remarks in Japan, November 20, 1974 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

President Ford’s remarks in Japan, 1974

Creator: Gerald R. Ford Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Harry S. Truman, Farewell Address, 1953. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

President Truman’s Farewell Address, 1953

Creator: Harry S. Truman Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Robert F. Kennedy on Vietnam, 1967

Creator: Robert F. Kennedy Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels:
Broadside against the Sacco-Vanzetti execution, ca. August 1927. (GLC05712.02)

Sacco and Vanzetti, 1921

Creator: Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:

Sir Francis Drake’s attack on St. Augustine, 1586

Creator: Baptista Boazio Curriculum Subjects: Economics, World History Grade Levels:
Stephen Austin’s contract to bring settlers to Texas, June 4, 1825 (Gilder L

Stephen Austin’s contract to bring settlers to Texas, 1825

Creator: Stephen Austin Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Map of Yorktown, Virginia, October 1781 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Surrender of the British General Cornwallis to the Americans, October 19, 1781

Creator: Lord Cornwallis Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Texas Declaration of Independence, March 2, 1836. (GLC02559)

Texas Declaration of Independence, 1836

Creator: Delegates of the People of Texas Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Benjamin Duvivier, George Washington before Boston, medal, ca. 1790 (GLC03221)

The British evacuation of Boston, 1776

Creator: Benjamin Duvivier Curriculum Subjects: Art, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

The Cold War in the classroom, 1952

Creator: Federal Civil Defense Administration Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels:
Demarcation bull, granting Spain possession of the New World, May 4, 1493.

The Doctrine of Discovery, 1493

Creator: Pope Alexander VI Curriculum Subjects: Geography, Religion and Philosophy, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Detail from U.S. Capitol

The Monroe Doctrine, 1823

Creator: James Monroe Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Geography, Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels:
A Memorial of the State of the Province of Massachusetts Bay (detail)

The Province of Massachusetts Bay requests aid from Queen Anne, 1708

Creator: Thomas Oliver Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Expeditionis Hispanorum in Angliam, 1588, by Robert Adams (London, 1590). (LOC)

The Spanish Armada, 1588

Creator: Robert Adams Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels:
True copy of articles, whereupon . . . the New Netherlands were surren

The surrender of New Netherland, 1664

Creator: Richard Nicholls Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
RMS Lusitania in New York, 1907 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Divi

Theodore Roosevelt on the sinking of the Lusitania, 1915

Creator: Theodore Roosevelt Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
“[A Farewell Ode to Emigrants on Their Journey to America],” Hamar, Norway, 1853

Verses on Norwegian emigration to America, 1853

Creator: Thorvald A. Hansen Curriculum Subjects: Foreign Languages, Literature, World History Grade Levels:
Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Victory Order of the Day,” May 8, 1945. (GLC05622.04)

Victory Order of the Day, 1945

Creator: Dwight D. Eisenhower Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels:
“Remember Dec. 7th!” Office of War Information, 1942. (GLC09520.08)

World War II: Commemorating Pearl Harbor, 1941

Creator: Office of War Information Curriculum Subjects: Art Grade Levels:
US Food Administration. Food Will Win the War, ca. 1917. (GLC09522)

“Food Will Win the War,” 1917

Creator: United States Food Administration Curriculum Subjects: Economics, World History Grade Levels: