Browse Primary Sources

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

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.

Link to source page for NAS Letter

National Academy of Sciences objects to political persecution of Condon, 1948

This document from 1948 expresses concern by members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) over the political persecution of Edward Condon, a physicist and director of the Bureau of Standards. Dating back to the 1860s, the NAS is a professional association tasked with giving scientific advice to the government.

Link to source page for AAAS Letter

AAAS Defends Edward Condon from HUAC, 1948

This document from 1948 circulates to members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) the organization’s position on the political persecution of Edward Condon, a physicist and director of the Bureau of Standards. Condon was a moderate internationalist who had a then-mainstream view that atomic bombs were too dangerous for any one country to control.

Link to source page for sources and annotation.

Map and Population Table for British Gambia, 1915-1918

Many people in West Africa fled across colonial boundaries to avoid military conscription in the late 19th and early 20th century. For example, during World War I, tens of thousands of people left the French colony of Senegal for neighboring British Gambia and Portuguese Guinea-Bissau.

Link to source page for police station

British Police Station, Rasah, Malaysia

Many of the earliest British buildings in the Malay Peninsular were inspired by contemporary Malay structures. Most of these buildings do not exist anymore because they were built to serve temporary functions and were eventually replaced by permanent structures once masonry became available.

Link to source page for wooden stockade

Wooden Stockade on Penang Island, 18th century

This stockade was painted by Captain Elisha Trapaud in 1787 and the painting is preserved in the India Office Library in London. Construction of the fort started in August 1786 as soon as Francis Light had taken possession of Penang Island (part of present day Malaysia) away from the Kedah Sultanate.

Map showing Caribbean islands including Antigua, St. Kitts, and Nevis

Tracing Canoe Pathways in the Lesser Antilles, 2000 BE - 400 BC

These maps show two constructed least cost pathways between Flinty Bay on Long Island just off the coast of Antigua (the right end of the line) and Jolly Beach on Antigua (the left end of the line). Flinty Bay served as a major source of flint for the Archaic Age (2000 - 400 BC) communities in the northern Lesser Antilles, the islands shown on the map.

Film still shows two women in a factory. One (portrayed by Sally Field) has her arm around the other.

Norma Rae: Depicting Women's Labor History through Film

In this still shot from the movie Norma Rae, two pretty and petite white actors represent southern mill hands. Norma, portrayed by the famous actress Sally Field, stands with her mother (Barbara Baxley).

Photo shows women working at sewing machines on both sides of 2 long tables.

Puerto Rican Needleworkers in a Factory, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1942

This government photograph provides an important contrast to the popular culture images of poor southern whites. During the 1940s and 1950s, U.S. government agencies hired photographers to travel the main island of Puerto Rico to capture the conditions of working people. This photo was taken at a “good factory” subsidized by the U.S. government to serve mainland manufacturers.

Brochure Cover reads "South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition" and shows map of southeast U.S. coast.

Brochure for the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition / Charleston Exposition, 1901-1902

This is the cover for a pamphlet to promote the Charleston Exposition and recruit exhibitors and attendees from along the entire U.S. Atlantic, which ran from New England to Florida to Cuba and Puerto Rico. It is an effective visual representation of how cotton growers and textile and apparel producers envisioned the U.S.

Table with cells containing different values. Description in annotation.

Least Cost Pathway Analysis Showing Movement Across a Landscape

These side by side charts show the basics of how least cost pathway analysis works in action. A geographic surface, landscape or seascape, is broken into standard size squares (or cells). These cells are then given a value based on an underlying factor in the geographic area, such as the slope of a hill calculated into a cost to climb up it, or the force and direction of a sea current.

Remains of the Stargate Canoe

Remains of the Stargate Canoe

This image showcases one of the few remains of a canoe found in the Caribbean. The ‘Stargate’ canoe, found in a blue hole—a large marine cavern--on the island of South San Andros in the Bahamas, represents only the tip of the canoe. The image above shows the prow or stern of a canoe, similar to those found in Venezuela in the Upper Orinoco River basin. 

Article on Mohammed Abdul Rashid. Full text in module folder.

Britain pressures U.S. to revoke citizenship of Indian activist

The US press often carried news of diplomatic issues in its headlines. This included references to matters of citizenship. In the early twentieth century, national and local newspapers in the United States inquired whether Asian immigrants were White and therefore eligible to naturalize as US citizens. The Black press also raised similar questions.

Headline: U.S. May Revoke Das' Citizenship. Full transcript in folder in module.

U.S. targets Indian activist, Taraknath Das

During World War I, U.S. and British officials expanded a transimperial surveillance apparatus designed to police enemy aliens and foreign threats. U.S.

2 Prints of a Sole Amerindian in a Canoe

2 Prints of a Sole Amerindian in a Canoe

These images of a man in a canoe come from the work of the Spanish official, historian, and botanist Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo (1478-1557), who created many images of Amerindians while he was in the Caribbean during the 1520s.

Newspaper headline: "O.A.C. graduates are eighty-two" transcription in folder in module.

Rashid graduates from Oregon Agricultural college, 1908

Indian and other Asian immigrants attended land grant universities across the United States in the early twentieth century. These universities offered degrees in agriculture that were important to imperial subjects like Muhammad Abdul Rashid because of agriculture’s importance in the global economy.

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).

Image of newspaper. Transcription in folder.

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.