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


This account of 1755-1757, chronicled by a soldier, not only listed the names of settlers killed in a particular region of the country, but also the number of persons that were made captive by the Indians.

As the French and Indian Wars wound down, Trustees for the Mennonites wrote this letter to the Commissioners for Indian Affairs about negotiating to secure the release of the white settlers that are still being held prisoners by the Indians. The letter is dated June 6, 1760.


James Kenny meticulously kept a ledger book of the trades between the Indians and the back settlers at Fort Augusta. His ledger book contains a record of this mutually beneficial trade between the two groups from May 6th until August 10th of 1763 in the vicinity of present day Sunbury, Pennsylvania.

James Kenny, originally from Chester County, journeyed to Fort Pitt (present-day Pittsburgh) in 1761 to take charge of a trading store established by the Commissioners of Indian Affairs. His two-year diary describes in great detail the activities of local Native Americans with whom he traded.

This document records the opening statement of diplomatic negotiations held at Fort August, near preset-day Sunbury, PA, on July 19, 1763.

This is a land deed from the Susquehannah Indians to William Penn dated September 13th, 1700.  The deed concerns rights to the "River Susquehannah and all the Islands therein and all the Lands Situate lying and being upon both sides of the said River," as well as nearby woods, underwoods, miners, quarries, and other resources.

This pamphlet of 1764 is an account of grievances that the Paxton Volunteers, on behalf of the back settlers, want redressed against hostile Indian tribes. It is not intended as an admission of guilt or regret, but as an explanation of why they were "defending" themselves in December 1763.

Photograph of a woman using an electric welder. Image from the Philadelphia War Photograph Committee collection documenting World War I participation on the Philadelphia home front.

A photograph of girls from the National Service and Emergency Aid division inspecting "comfort kits" at 1210 Arch Street. Comfort kits contained personal hygiene items such as games, soxs, buttons, soap, etc., and given to soldiers on the front line.

Photograph of the Auxiliary 123 at the Philadelphia High School for Girls at 7th and Spring Garden Streets. The photo is from the American National Red Cross from the Philadelphia War Photograph Committee collection documenting World War I participation on the Philadelphia home front.

Pamphlet issued in 1863 by the Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon. Includes list of U.S. Army hospitals in Philadelphia and places of interest in the city.

View of the main corridor of the U.S. Great Central Sanitary Fair.