Browse Primary Sources

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

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Mikhail Gorbachev’s Resignation Speech

This is a transcript of Gorbachev’s resignation speech. This speech signified the complete end of the Soviet Union. According to the speech, what reasons does Gorbachev give for his resignation? What is the overall tone of this document? Why do you think Gorbachev uses this tone?

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The Alma-Ata Declaration

This document is a translation of the Belovezh Accords, the agreement which essentially declared that the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Those who signed it agreed to form a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Which states were signatories of the Belovezh Accords? Were these all of the former Soviet republics or not? Which states did not sign?

Image of text in Ukrainian of Declaration. Transcription and translation provided with source.

Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine

This source is one example of a former Soviet republic declaring its independence from the Soviet Union. Who created this document? What reasons does the document creator give for wanting to secede from the Soviet Union? What does this document suggest and what is the most telling language in this document that supports its main claims?

Map of Europe with countries shaded based on year they joined NATO.

History of NATO Expansion Map

This map shows the expansion of NATO over time. Have students identify the most recently states to join NATO. Which states have joined NATO after the collapse of communism? Which of these newer NATO states had been Soviet satellite states as opposed to full republics of the Soviet Union? Which countries of interest do these newer members of NATO border?

Map of Europe with countries shaded based on membership in NATO, the Warsaw Pact or nonaligned.

Cold War Europe Military Alliances Map

This map illustrates which states in Europe belonged to NATO or the Warsaw Pact military alliance. The white states were neutral. This map illustrates the infamous Iron Curtain and the split between West and East. Which of these states belonged to the Warsaw Pact? For the states that belonged to the Warsaw Pact, were they satellite states or republics of the Soviet Union?

Inset of Ukraine from larger map of 1918 Europe

Map of Europe, 1918

This map illustrates European borders prior to the start of WWI in 1914 with black lines and new states formed by the First World War in red. As the map illustrates, a number of states became independent from Tsarist Russia. What new states were these? Do you think that newly found independence had an affect on nationalist movements in these areas?

Article text. Transcription in folder.

“The South African College and Its ‘Old Boys,’” 1886

The 1886 article, “The South African College and Its ‘Old Boys’,” provides an example of how universities extended their influence within an empire (or globally) through alumni and their expertise.

Map titled Map Showing Cornell University Lands in Wisconsin for sale. Description in annotation

Map of Land Grant for Cornell University, 1877

Similar to the New Zealand land grant, yet within a distinct political context, the development of land-grant universities in the United States followed and encouraged an institutional financing model based upon Indigenous land acquisition, leasing, and sale.

Map of North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand outlines the lands that surround the Kimihia and Hakanoa Lakes.

Map of Land Grant for New Zealand University, 1873

Depicting the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand, this map outlines the lands that surround the Kimihia and Hakanoa Lakes in the Waikato Region. Small plots of land, 50 acres each, are demarcated and assigned to various landholders. Running parallel to these plots is the Waikato River, the map’s westernmost feature.

List of items in several columns. Explanation in annotation.

Outward Cargo Manifest of the Rowena, 1841

Cargo manifests and other shipping records offer a tangible glimpse into expansive commercial networks, reminding observers of the physical goods underwriting long distance trade. Amongst other merchandise, the Rowena carried hundreds of thousands of yards of cotton cloth—shirtings, sheetings, and drills—which served as the basis of American trade in the Western Indian Ocean.

Text of contract in English and Arabic. Explanation in source annotation.

American and Zanzibari Trade Contract, 1841

This contract, one of few bilingual agreements that survive, illustrates the practical commercial system that Indian, Arab, and American traders developed on Zanzibar. The document outlines the quantity, quality, and price of the cloves being sold as well as their expected delivery date.

Ad for auction of ship's cargo. Description at link.

Advertisement for the Auction of the Ann’s Cargo, 1827

This flyer advertises the Ann’s 1827 arrival in Salem, Massachusetts, after making one of the first American trips to Zanzibar. The Ann’s cargo included goods that were likely procured on the island, such as ivory and gum copal, alongside wares from the Arabian Peninsula like coffee, dates, frankincense, and myrrh.

Text of report. Transcription at link.

Rockefeller Foundation Report Concerning the Yellow Fever Vaccine

The creation of the yellow fever vaccine turned out to be quite controversial. Many of these controversies are revealed in documents such as this summary of correspondence between Georges Stefanopoulo, a Pastorian microbiologist, and his colleagues at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York.

Headline of newspaper article "La fièvre jaune à Dakar - Il n’y a pas d’épidémie," explanation at link.

"Yellow fever in Dakar – There is no epidemic"

This is an excerpt from an interview with Blaise Diagne, the Senegalese deputy to the National Assembly, published in Le Matin, one of the major national dailies in metropolitan France. The yellow fever outbreak of 1927-28 was quickly politicized by French and African commentators alike.

Photo shows three men in pith helmets with a device on a cart in the foreground. A small hut is in the background.

Disinfection of Dakar houses with a Clayton Apparatus

This is a photograph from the collections of the Rockefeller Archive Center depicting a Clayton apparatus disinfecting African houses during the yellow fever outbreak of 1927. The image illustrates a number of transnational linkages that shaped the epidemic. Clayton apparatuses were steam disinfection devices that used sulphuric gases to destroy pathogens in infected homes.

The cover of Nisa, The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman by Marjorie Shostak, featuring a headshot of a !Kung woman.

Nisa, The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman by Marjorie Shostak

Made up of a series of analyses and personal interviews conducted by Marjorie Shostak, Nisa, The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman is an anthropological work about women of the !Kung tribe of the Kalahari desert in southern Africa told through the perspective of one individual, Nisa.

An image on the cover of Dreams of Trespass featuring three women in Moroccan dress walking away down a hall decorated with aniconic ornament.

Dreams of Trespass by Fatima Mernissi

Written by Moroccan feminist and sociologist Fatima Mernissi, Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood is a semi-fictional tale about a young girl growing up in a traditional Moroccan harem in the 1940s and 1950s. The main character, self-named Fatima, observes the experiences of the women around her and their struggles with restricting patriarchal rules.

Title page of Patience and Power by Susan Schaefer Davis, with the subtitle "Women's Lives in a Moroccan Village."

Patience and Power by Susan Davis

Patience and Power, Women's Lives in a Moroccan Village is an anthology of anecdotes, interviews, and observations by American anthropologist Dr. Susan Schaefer Davis. Fluent in Moroccan Arabic and "comfortable" in the culture, Davis compile her work to combat previous studies of Moroccan women that were written from a male viewpoint and were frequently superficial in their content.

Title page of Memoirs and Poems of Phillis Wheatley, with the subtitle "A Native African and a Slave" and dedicated to the friends of the Africans.

Memoirs and Poems of Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley (c.1753-1784) was an enslaved African American poet and author. Despite this, the work Memoirs and Poems of Phillis Wheatley was compiled and the memoirs themselves written by Margaretta Matilda Odell, a supposed "collateral descendent of Mrs.

The book jacket of Living History featuring a portrait of Hillary Clinton and her signature

Living History by Hillary Clinton

Written shortly after being elected a United States Senator, Living History is an autobiography by Hillary Rodham Clinton, politician and former First Lady of President Bill Clinton. Living History is a memoir covering Clinton's early years and her time as First Lady.