Primary Sources

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Primary Sources

Teachers, need a primary source to create a lesson in the classroom? 

         Students, need a source for a research project? 

You can find the primary sources that are used in the unit plans here where they are searchable by keyword, title, and topic.  

Besides an image of the source, on its page, you may also find ways to purchase copies for the classroom, a transcription, and its proper citation for inclusion in a bibliography.

Our digitized collection, however, is much bigger than this selection.  Be sure to search the Collection section of our website too, through Discover (HSP's Online Catalog) and the Digital Library.

And if you  need help reading old handwriting, there are many sources on line, such as this one from


Leave blank for all. Otherwise, the first selected term will be the default instead of "Any".

The diaries of Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker highlight the life of a Quaker woman living in Philadelphia in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Between 1758 and 1807, Drinker wrote often in her journals, usually about her family and their health. Occassionaly, she also detailed medical practices and her own moral standards. She discussed major events insofar as they affected her family, such as the Revolutionary War and the 1793 Yellow Fever outbreak.

This primary source is a portrait of Elizabeth Fergusson. She wrote poems about women during the Revolutionary War era that provide insight into a womans daily life. 

This image is a silhouette of Elizabeth Drinker. She was a Quaker loyalist living in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. Her diaries include accounts of the Yellow Fever epidemic, British occupation, and medical practices. 

This portrait of Philadelphia civil rights leader Octavius Catto comes from the frontispiece of the The Trial of Frank Kelly, for the Assassination and Murder of Octavius V. Catto, on October 10, 1871.

This digital copy contains the Preface, address to teachers, and Lecture V titled "Method of analyzing plants by a series of comparisons--General remarks upon plants--Method of preserving plants for an herbarium--Poisonous plants, and those which are not poisonous." See the full digital version on this book on the Hathi Trust Digital Library here.

This is a book written by William Still that documents his time as the Underground Railroad station master in Philadelphia. It gives a description of the fugitive slaves as well as the people who assisted them to safety.

This is a World War I propaganda poster directed at women, encouraging them to help the war through domestic efforts, such as saving food.

This political cartoons reveals a man digging a grave for Wilhelm II, who was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia. It claims to be the real objective of the War Garden effort.

World War I-era poster from the United States Food Administration promoting the rationing of sugar as part of the war effort.

World War I-era poster from the United States Food Administration encouraging civilians to reduce the consumption of sugar sweetened drinks to assist with the war effort.

World War I-era poster created by the United State Food Administration, urging Americans to save food for the war effort. Poster features a portrait and quotation by President Woodrow Wilson, and a seal that reads, "America's food pledge: 20 million tons."

World War I-era poster for the "National League for Womans Service." Poster features a woman in uniform, mounted on horse, carrying an American flag in the foreground. Other women serving the country are shown holding a rake, books, depicted as a home canner, and a nurse.