Browse Primary Sources

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

A man sits in front of a counting board with a pile of counters in front of him and a counter in one hand.

Engraving of a Rechentisch (Counting Board)

This image of an engraving depicts a man using a rechentisch, or counting board, the earliest known counting device and a precursor the abacus. The earliest known counting board is the Salamis Tablet, dating from 300 BCE, but may have been used more for gaming than for calculating. There are few surviving counting boards due to the materials used for construction and their use in daily life.

A terracotta sculpture of a male figure with defined facial features, a hairstyle with multiple buns and caps over the ears, and numerous necklaces and other jewelry.

Nok Terracotta Sculptures

Nok terracotta sculptures are the earliest-known sculptures from sub-Saharan Africa, created by the Nok culture of which little is known except their ironworking and terracotta sculptures that flourished circa 1500 BCE to 1 BCE. The sculptures are figurative, with the heads or figures of humans represented, as well as animals, each unique.

Stepped platforms made from tan-colored adobe bricks located on the plaza at Huaca Pucllana

Huaca Pucllana, Ancient Pyramid in Peru

Huaca Pucllana is a pyramid site built around 500 AD by the Lima culture of Peru. The pyramid was built with seven platforms made from adobe bricks and is around 82 feet (25 meters) high, and has a plaza surrounding it. The pyramid was a site of ceremonial and religious power.

The well-known portrait vessel called Huaco Retrato Mochica, which depicts a man's head wearing a turban with red detailing and a two headed bird on either side.

Moche Portrait Vessels

Moche portrait vessels are ceramic vessels that often featured only heads, but some also have full human bodies as well, and most are representations of adult men. The Moche existed in Peru between the period of 100 to 700 AD and are known for their ceramics, textiles, and metalworking practices, and these portrait vessels demonstrate the ceramic skill of the culture.

Cave painting with red paint outlining hands.

Cueva de los Manos, Rio Pinturas

Cueva de las Manos, Rio Pinturas is an archealogical site and World Heritage Site in Argentina that features cave art and rock are that dates to around 9500 to 13000 years old. The site is significant for its well-preserved depictions of art that features animals, hunting scense, and human figures, as well as outlined hands painted on the walls that the name comes from.

A world map with orange markers placed at the site of protests from social media.

Map with Many of the Protests in Puerto Rico and the World 2019

An event in Puerto Rico that captured world attention and motivated the interest of many Puerto Ricans in the diaspora to participate was the Summer of 2019 movement. In this event, at least a third of the population of Puerto Rico took to the streets to demand political and economic change.

A light colored, rectangular bead with small, stripe-like markings.

Shell Pendant or Bead from Ecuador

This pendant or bead was made from a shell and dates back to the 3rd millennium BCE. Found in Ecuador, it was likely made by the Valdivia culture, a people who lived on the western coast and mainly subsisted off fishing and farming and flourished between the years of 3500 BCE - 1500 BCE.

A clay figure with two heads and two female torsos, along with one set of arms and legs. The heads have cap-like hair and slightly detailed faces.

Ceramic Female Figure from Ecuador

This clay figure dates from the third millennium BCE and is evidence of the earliest known ceramic traditions of any ancient peoples in the Americas. This figure, and many others like it, are from the Valdivia culture of Ecuador. The Valdivia produced many stylized representations of human figures that often lack a clear face and were usually female.

The mummified remains of a child lay in a container. The child has a clay mask and red painted clay on their body.

Chinchorro Mummies

The Chinchorro mummies, named for the Chinchorro people of current-day Chile and Peru, are the world’s oldest known examples of intentional mummification. predating Egyptian examples by almost 2,000 years. Hundreds of mummies were discovered and radiocarbon dating placed their age around 7,000 years old.

Three reddish-brown fragments of potter featuring a human face and geographic patterns.

Lapita Pottery from the Santa Cruz Islands

This pottery sherd dates from around 1000 BCE and is from the Lapita culture, the likely common ancestor of contemporary Polynesian cultures. This sherd was found in the Santa Cruz Islands, part of the Solomon Islands.

A tan colored stone in the shape of an animal with head at the top and a rounded end.

Zoomorphic Figure from Papua New Guinea

This stone figure from an unknown culture in ancient Oceania may represent an echidna, which is an egg-laying mammal that is related to the platypus. Stone figures from this region were often shaped to represent animals or human heads and could be used as mortars, pestles, club heads, or simply for rituals.

A tan-colored stone figure loosely shaped like a bird with a head and beak and two protruding wings on the side. The figure has a flat bottom.

Bird Stone Figure from Papua New Guinea

This stone figure from ancient Oceania loosely shaped like a bird comes from an unknown ancient culture that lived in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

A brown-colored, stone figure loosely in the shape of a bird with a beak and two small wings.

Pestle Finial from Papua New Guinea

This image is of a pestle finial in the shape of a bird from an unknown culture in ancient Oceania. Pestles are a tool used for crushing or grinding, often used for cooking ingredients such as spices, and were likely also used with other stone mortars that have been found in the region.

A green background with counters on a counting board.

Adding and Subtracting with an Early Modern Counting Board

Before the rise of literacy rates, counting boards such as the one featured in the video were the most common way to perform arithmetic. After pen-and-paper arithmetic replaced counting boards, Arabic numerals also became dominant throughout Europe. 

An image of sound waves with the text "play audio" under.

One Voice SOMOS Live! A Concert for Disaster Relief

Several Caribbean public figures (Puerto Rican artists Jennifer López and Marc Anthony and baseball player Alex Rodríguez) served as ambassadors of the Greater Caribbean before the world, to raise funds to address the immediate needs of the 2017 disaster victims in Puerto Rico and many other parts of the regions around th

A screenshot of a Facebook post in Spanish with multiple images of people fro

Solidarity Expressions from the Puerto Rican Diaspora

An event in Puerto Rico that captured world attention and motivated the interest of many Puerto Ricans in the diaspora to participate was the Summer of 2019 movement. In this event, at least a third of the population of Puerto Rico took to the streets to demand political and economic change.

The red cover of the treaty, which reads "Economic Integration: The O.E.C.S. Experience." The top center has a circular symbol with triangles and waves that reads "OECS." In the bottom left it reads "Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Central Secretariat St. Lucia March 1988."

OECS Treaty Publication Fragments

The OECS published in 1988 a booklet explaining the treaty that founded it (OECS 1988). A fragment is included in the photos here. This piece of the document focuses on explaining the integration provisions of the treaty, including the common market.

A blue, circular icon with an image of a document in the center. Underneath are the words "view document"

Transcript of the Treaty of Basseterre of 1981

To capture the diplomatic side of Caribbean economic history from the point of view of the governments, official documents describing economic policies, joint strategies, and related decision-making processes in the Caribbean region could be pursued.

A table with popular world development indicators for four Caribbean countries dating from 1972, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010, and 2020.

Popular World Development Indicators for Four Caribbean Countries

Raw numerical data may be pursued to track historical behavior through socioeconomic and demographic indicators. This data might be the basis to identify and understand socioeconomic challenges and potential solutions that should be addressed through economic diplomacy.

Link to source page for Harvard Letter

Harvard Physics Department asserts that investigations threaten national security, 1950

This document is the response of the Harvard University Physics Department to a proposed Congressional amendment in 1950 requiring that the FBI investigate scientists’ “loyalty” before they could receive government contracts. As the Harvard scientists write, heavy-handed attempts to root out the very rare disloyal applicant would be highly damaging overall to the morale of researchers.