Browse Primary Sources

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

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.

A newspaper article titled big business banishes the flapper. On the left is a woman dressed as a flapper, and on the right is a woman dressed modestly in black.

“Big Business Banishes the Flapper"

The “flapper” craze overtook the western world in the early 1920s and was spearheaded by young women intent on bucking cultural norms of the time.

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

Mandate for Palestine

The Mandate for Palestine was a legal document that established the United Kingdom as a Mandatory in charge of Palestine and Transjordan following its occupation of the territories during World War I and their eventual concession

A image of a kasai velvet textile, woven in a diamond pattern in cream and black

Kasai Velvet, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Despite its name, Kasai velvet, or velours du kasai, is not actually a velvet. Rather, it is embroidery on a finished piece of raffia cloth.

A woodblock print of Tomoe Gozen dressed in samurai armor, seated on a horse

Tomoe Gozen

Tomoe Gozen was a Japanese female samurai that lived during the late twelfth century, or late Heian period, in Japan. Tomoe Gozen was known for her skill in archery and swordcraft.

A detail of the Bayeux Tapestry, depicting two horsemen in battle

The Bayeux Tapestry

Most likely commissioned by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, the Bayeux Tapestry depicts William the Conqueror’s conquest of England, culminating in the Battle of Hastings.

Thumbnail of a propaganda poster that features two Black men, one with his arm raised and the other resisting a baton wielded by a white gloved hand

"Resolutely support the just struggle of the American Blacks!" Propaganda Poster, 1963

The title of this Chinese propaganda poster is “Resolutely support the just struggle of the American Blacks!” (Jianjue zhichi Meiguo heirende zhengyi douzheng!). Dated September 1963, the poster was designed by Chinese artist Cao Youcheng and published by the Shanghai People’s Fine Arts Publishing House.

Thumbnail of a propaganda poster that features a black man dressed in robes holding up a gun against a backdrop of flames

“Drive the old and new colonialists out of Africa!” Propaganda Poster, 1964

This Chinese propaganda poster, dated August 1964, was designed by Chinese painters Wang Datong and Du Yongqiao and published by the People’s Fine Arts Publishing House in Beijing. The poster’s text reads “Drive the old and new colonialists out of Africa!” (Ba xin lao zhimin zhuyi zhe ganchu Feizhou qu!).

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Speech by U.S. Civil Rights Leader Robert Williams, 1966

American civil rights leader Robert Williams delivered this speech on August 8th,1966 at a demonstration in Beijing commemorating the third anniversary of Mao Tse-tung’s “Statement Supporting the American Negroes in Their Just Struggle Against Racial Discrimination by U.S.

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Mao Tse-tung's Statement Regarding Racial Discrimination in the United States, 1963

Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Tse-tung delivered this speech on August 9th, 1963 prior to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In it, he expresses support for Black Americans’ struggles against racial discrimination and calls upon peoples of the world to unite against U.S. imperialism.

1844 Business contract between Richard P. Waters and his Omani-Zanzibari trading partner, Esau bin Abdul Rahman

Business contract between Richard P. Waters and his Omani-Zanzibari trading partner, Esau bin Abdul Rahman

This contract represents how business was typically transacted in Zanzibar and throughout the Omani Empire. It reflects how merchants throughout the region relied upon forging deals with each other, but it also serves as a lens through which we can peer to see how this space allows us to see just how tightly connected the world was becoming. This contract stipulated that Richard P.

First page of a letter from President Andrew Jackson to the Senate in 1834 on the expansion of US trade.

A letter from U.S. President Andrew Jackson to the Senate Dated Washington, May 30, 1834

A letter from President Andrew Jackson to the Senate where the President discusses the possibility of extending US trade. Jackson was particularly interested in the potential trade connections with areas around the Indian Ocean.