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


Two letters written by Louis I. Piatetsky, a Navy Medic serving in Vietnam, to his brother, Ralph. One letter is dated May 11, 1966, and the other is dated January 21, 1967. 

Two letters that Dora Kelly Lewis wrote to her mother in February 1920. 

Original draft of a radio address by Albert Greenfield on October 17, 1938 regarding his role in the Bankers Trust failure of 1930. 

This pamphlet advertises the various services that Bankers Trust Company provides to their customers.

Chairman of the Vigilance Committee (part of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society), William Still assisted fugitive slaves as they were secretly shuttled into Philadelphia in the mid-1800s. From 1852 to 1857, Still kept a journal describing his encounters with the slaves in painstaking detail, recording their names, physical characteristics, personalities, and other details. Still's meticulous entries offer unique insight into the secretive network known as the Underground Railroad.

Seal of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society.

Excerpts from an article in the Philadelphia Public Ledger on August 28, 1862 about the arrest of Charles Ingersoll for discouraging men to enlist in the Union army and "uttering disloyal sentiments."

Charles Ingersoll gave this speech to a group of Democrats in 1862, urging them to vote against the Republicans. The speech was printed in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, a paper that sympathized with the South during the Civil War. 

In this letter, Pierce Butler writes to his friend George Cadwalader from prison. He discusses financial matters and urges his friends not to try to get him out of prison; he wants to be released "by right, and not by favour."

In this letter, Pierce Butler describes his experiences as a prisoner during the Civil War to his friend George Cadwalader.

A letter from Pierce Butler to his daughter, Fanny, on January 7, 1861. In it, he expresses his doubts that a civil war will occur and declares that his "sympathies are entirely with the South." 

This is a four-color print containing an image of Francis Scott Key,The Star Spangled Banner lyrics and music, and an image of Fort McHenry in the background.