Browse Primary Sources
Primary sources from world and global history, including images, objects, texts, and digitally-born materials – annotations by scholars contextualize sources.
Cover of The Chouans

Balzac’s The Chouans

Novelist Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850) was a giant of nineteenth–century European literature. In his multivolume The Human Comedy, he investigated the general desire for social advancement in the post–revolutionary world.

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Cover of A Tale of Two Cities

Dickens, Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens’s (1812–70) novels generally appeared in serial form in popular newspapers.

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Image of Victor Hugo

Hugo, Ninety–Three

Victor Hugo (1802–85) was an ardent republican and defender of the revolutionary legacy who went into exile during the Second Empire (1852–70). He lived long enough to become an icon of the Third Republic. He portrayed the democratic aspects of the Revolution in glowing, indeed somewhat romanticized terms.

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Thumbnail of engraving

Image of the King at the Festival of Federation

Having lived through a tumultuous year, France’s political leaders, new and old, perceived the need to foster a sense of unity among the people. The King’s more liberal ministers in particular hoped to prevent attempts to roll back the changes made since the spring of 1789 and to limit momentum for farther–reaching challenges to the monarchy.

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Thumbnail of engraving

Watch Yourself or You'll be a Product for Sale

The women in this image appear to be tempted to a life of prostitution. The female figure in the left foreground gestures toward the door but remains modestly attired. Once inside, the women are there for the pleasure of men and wear revealing or little clothing. The contrast in this moralistic image also reveals how differently contemporaries could depict "real" women from allegorical ones.

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Thumbnail of painting

The Fatherland in Danger

This painting of the period by Gillaume Guillon Lethière shows the emotion caused by the prospect of loved ones departing for the army. Women had to part with their families in order to support the nation in its time of need. Notice the female statue overlooking the scene.

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Thumbnail of Redesigned revolutionary pack of cards

Game of the Great Men, Minot the Elder

Revolutionaries redesigned playing cards in order to eliminate references to royalty (kings, queens, jacks) and replace them with great men and abstract virtues.

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Scenes from Andrzej Wajda’s film, Man of Iron (1981)

Filmed just after Solidarity’s initial spectacular rise in 1980, Andrzej Wajda’s Man of Iron was won immediate global acclaim.

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Traditional Soviet Values for Children

Soviet propaganda posters presented positive images of healthy, active people engaged in useful service to the state, including children. This Soviet poster from 1953 was typical of this image.

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Photographs of the St. Stanisław Kostka Church in Warsaw

Father Jerzy Popiełuszko was one of the most vocal priests involved in the Solidarity movement in the early 1980s. Even after the declaration of martial law in 1981, Father Popiełuszko remained an outspoken opponent of the Communist regime, and his church in the Warsaw suburb of Żoliborz became a gathering point for those who wanted to hear anticommunist sermons.

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