Browse Primary Sources

Locate primary sources, including images, objects, media, and texts. Annotations by scholars contextualize sources.

Gold earring featuring a skull with three dangles below it.

Aztec Skull Earring, 16th Century

Featured in this image is a pair of Skull Earring created by the Aztec. They were believed to have been created around the time of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire beginning in the early 16th century.

A woodcut of a man with no head and a face in his chest.

The Foreign Travels and Dangerous Voyages of Sir John Mandeville, 14th Century

This image shows a print from the 1568 version of the Voyages and travailes of Sir John Mandevile, knight. Sir John Mandeville’s Travels is believed to have been first published in the mid-14th century and rereleased many times in subsequent decades. It was reedited anonymously and released in 1725.

Map of Asia showing the lands Marco Polo traveled to.

Marco Polo’s Travels

Macro Polo lived from 1254 to 1324. He spent twenty-four years journeying through the Asian continent and left behind an impressive amount of documentation including travelogues of his adventures. He recorded his travels in the manuscript is the Les voyages de Marco Polo de Venise (The Travels of Marco Polo).

"Fourth Pan-African Congress Ends Session and Issues Manifesto," The Monitor, 2 September 1927, Omaha, Nebraska

Newspaper Report on the Fourth Pan-African Congress Meeting in 1927

This article comes from The Monitor, a historically African American newspaper published in Omaha, Nebraska. The article offers readers insight into the fourth Pan-African Congress meeting held in 1927 in New York City.

Page from al-Biruni's writing. Description in annotation.

Travel writing of al-Biruni, 11th century Persian scholar

This image is taken from a page of al-Biruni work called Chronology of an Ancient Nations. al-Biruni was a native of Iran. He was a prolific Persian scholar. While he published works in a wide variety of subjects, the majority of those works were on the subject of astronomy. He was also a pioneer in the study of comparative religion.

Photograph of a group of men posing. Description in annotation.

Photograph of "Principal Chiefs" from West Africa

The following is an image that appears in the on page 296 in the book Britain Across The Seas: Africa; A History And Description Of The British Empire In Africa published in 1910 and written by Harry Johnson. This particular photograph was taken by Capt. T.C. Hincks.

"The Pan-African Congress," Clayton's Weekly, 19 April 1919, Seattle, Washington

W.E.B. DuBois Details the 1919 Pan-African Congress in Newspaper Article

This article comes from Cayton’s Weekly, a historically Black newspaper published in Seattle, Washington. The article, written by W.E.B. Du Bois, offers readers insight into the 1919 Pan-African Congress held in Paris, France.

Text of Principall Investigations. Full text in transcription folder

Hakluyt's The Principall Investigations

This is an image of the first page of The Principall Investigations by Richard Hakluyt. The book was originally published in 1589. This is a reprint from between 1885 and 1890. Hakluyt was born around 1552. Hakluyt developed an early interest in travel through interactions with older relatives. He studied at the Christ College of Oxford and gained a B.A. and M.A. in Geography.

"The Pan-African Congress," The Monitor, 4 August 1921

Newspaper Article Promoting the Pan-African Congress

This article appears in the August 4, 1921 edition of the Omaha, Nebraska based newspaper, The Monitor. The Monitor was an African American run newspaper and typically featured stories about African Americans. This article contains quotes from African American intellectual, writer, and activist W.E.B. Du Bois, an organizer and American delegate for the 1919 Pan-African Congress.

Poster for olympic games features drawing of an athlete surrounded by flags.

Olympic Games Poster, Stockholm, 1912.

This is an image of a poster advertising the 1912 Summer Olympic games held in Stockholm, Sweden. This particular poster was created by the artist Olle Hjortzberg as part of an advertising campaign.

Image of the Mahabodhi Temple: a stepped pyramid with round dome-shaped structure (stupa) on top

Mahabodhi Temple

This photograph shows the Mahabodhi Temple complex. The temple is a part of Bodh Gaya a religious place in the Gaya District in Bihar that is one of the four and most important pilgrimages associated with the life of Gautama Buddha. It is said to have been the place where Buddha obtained enlightenment.

Ship Plan of a Late-19th Century Steamship

Ship Plan of a Late-19th Century Steamship

This ship plan from the late-19th century offers a partial view of spatial arrangements within a Messageries steamship. The diagram comes from a book of commercial publicity and imperial propaganda written by a Messageries ship-captain, Louis Tillier, and a famous journalist, novelist, and veteran of French colonial wars, Paul Bonnetain.

Shipping Company Route Map from 1889

Shipping Company Route Map from 1889

This route-map of the Messageries Maritimes shipping company displays the main routes connecting metropolitan France to its empire in the Indo-Pacific. While the map dates to 1889, these routes retained their basic structure through the 1950s.

"U.S. Lynchings Shock World, Says White," The Chicago Whip, 19 November 1921

Newspaper Report on Pan-African Congress's Response to U.S. Lynchings

This November 19, 1921 article comes from The Chicago Whip, a Chicago-based newspaper founded by William C. Linton, an African American editor and publisher originally from Atlanta, Georgia. The paper frequently reported on racial inequality in the United States. This article in particular covers a speech Walter F.

An image of Elisabeth Chapman's quilted bedcover. The quilt is pieced together using multiple patterned fabrics.

Quilted bedcover of Elisabeth Chapman

This quilted bed cover was likely made for the marriage of John and Elisabeth Chapman on September 19, 1829.

A detail of the Love Letter, showing two women. One holds a letter while the other stands next to her.

The Love Letter by Jan Vermeer

Painted in the last phase of his career, Dutch artist Jan Vermeer’s The Love Letter is a work of oil on canvas that depicts a wealthy woman holding a love letter, seemingly just delivered to her by the maid servant at her

The label on a vinyl copy of Strange Fruit. Circular label is red with Commodore: classics in swing at the top and the title Strange Fruit.

"Strange Fruit" by Billie Holiday (1939)

Based on a poem by Abel Meeropol published in January 1937, “Strange Fruit” was a song protesting the lynching of African Americans and was recorded by African American jazz singer Billie Holiday in 1939.

A woodblock print from a scene in the Tale of Genji depicting a women looking down at a man from a balcony. Black ink on cream background.

Yamamoto Shunshō’s The Tale of Genji

Largely considered the first novel, The Tale of Genji was written by Murasaki Shikibu, a noblewoman and lady-in-waiting during the early eleventh century.

The cover of a Hindi copy of the Laws of Manu

Laws of Manu

The Manu-smriti, or Laws of Manu, are of the most authoritative codes of Hinduism in India, dating back to approximately 100 C.E..

A page of the 1891 census, showing columns filled with handwritten names, ages, and other census information.

Census of England, 1891

The census of the United Kingdom was the tenth census and was taken on April 5, 1891.