Primary Sources

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

Students, need a source for research project? 

You can find the primary sources that 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.

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

Browse Sources

This is an image from the Civil War depicting men attempting to dodge the draft. Many people were against conscription, particulary immigrants, since they felt they were not involved in the politics that led to the Civil War. Two days after this cartoon was published, there was a draft riot in Wisconsin. 

This cartoon is from the 1860 election and it depicts President Abraham Lincoln coming into the White House while Stephen Douglas attempts to break in. President Lincoln is holding a rail because he was sometimes referred to as the "Rail Splitter." 

This cartoon was created at the beginning of the Civil War to illustrate that the Union would not fall to the South. The donkey, named South Carolina, cannot pull down the Union.

Created during the 1864 Presidential Election, Lincoln is surpassing McClellan who can no longer keep a hold on his horses. The horses represent the policies of the candidates, and it shows McClellan juggling too much at once.

This cartoon illustrates President Lincoln turning a blind eye to the violence that erupts over emancipation.

President Lincoln was referred to several times at the "Rail Splitter" due to his prior work experience with splitting rails. Although it was only his job for a short time, the nickname stuck as it appealed to working class men to see the President as a man of the people.

Produced during Reconstruction, this cartoon represents how the Ku Klux Klan was killing the hope for peace in the former Confederate states.

In this cartoon, President Lincoln is holding an axe about to chop down a thin tree marked slavery. At the top of the tree, a man is desperatly holding on. The man at the top represents the Confederacy trying to hold on to slavery as Lincoln destroys it.

In reference to the 1864 election, this cartoon was insinuating that the ballot was rigged and that those voting for General George McClellan were barred from the vote.

This cartoons is referencing the 1864 presidential election when General McClellan ran against President Lincoln. McClellan was known as a Southern appeaser, which upset many Northerners. This cartoon shows Mclellan groveling to Jefferson Davis ,in contast to President Andrew Jackson who is giving the demands rather than receiving them.

Presidet Andrew Johnson putting up a new bill. This cartoon illustrates the frustration many had after the President vetoed several bills.

The Dead House on the Schuylkill stood on what is now the west side of 22nd Street between Race and Vine Streets. It was used to store dead bodies during the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793.  This watercolor was made by David. J. Kennedy from an old pen & ink drawing by Birch.