Browse Primary Sources

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

Photo shows strips of red cloth hanging from a cave ceiling

Mijikenda textiles

Words are historical artifacts which can be analyzed as evidence much like written documents or material records.

Poster with text "We can stop X"

"We can stop this Makapuu madness!"

After World War II, the rise of jet travel and mass tourism brought new visitors—and new pressures—to many places within the Pacific Ocean. Hawaiʻi is a prime example of how tourism-driven development and activist responses have shaped local environments.

Photo of a man carrying some debris from a tunnel

Heading of east portal Tunnel No. 8

In the late nineteenth century, multiple transcontinental railroads were built across the United States and Canada. These were Pacific projects twice over: Each railroad aimed to open new routes for global trade with Asia, and each depended heavily on Asian laborers for their construction.

Chart with curved sticks emanating from pebbles on either side

Marshall Islands stick chart

Across millennia, Pacific people voyaged out to sea and settled the ocean’s thousands islands and atolls, linking new discoveries back to existing territories. Opening and sustaining these links was fundamentally a spatial project, requiring the development, refinement, and repeated mobilization of oceanic geographic knowledge.

Photograph of a factory or plant with a "Coca Cola" sign

Coca Cola Overseas

Multinational corporations do not usually have archives. And even when they do, these are seldom accessible.

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Policy Statement of the Federal Military Government Issued by Nigerian Embassies Abroad, 1966

In 1966, Nigeria was only a few years removed from colonial status. Nigeria as a unified political and economic entity had only been established in 1914 with the merger of the very different regions of northern and southern Nigeria.

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Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, 1994

Established in November of 1994 by Resolution 955 of the United Nations Security Council, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was intended to try those responsible from the Rwandan genocide ethnic Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu and other Rwandan violations of international law from January 1st to December 31st of 1994.

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Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Established by United Nations resolution 827 of May 25th, 1993, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was a body with the purpose of prosecuting war crimes committed during the Yugoslav Wars and had jurisdiction over four groups of criminal activity committed since January 1st, 1991: serious breaches of the Geneva Conventions, violations of the laws of war, genoci

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Excerpt from the Kellogg-Briand Pact, 1928

Also known as the Pact of Paris, the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 was an international agreement sponsored by the United States and France aimed to eliminate war as a means of conflict resolution on the international playing field following World War I.

a map of the western hemisphere showing the united states in white. A red bullseye target centered on Cuba shows the range of various nuclear missiles with the outer rings reaching as far as Northern Canada.

Map of the Range of Nuclear Missiles in Cuba, 1962

Marking one of the most dangerous periods of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis began on October 16, 1962, when U.S. national security advisors alerted President John F. Kennedy that a Soviet missile base was under construction in Cuba.

The title page of the Quebec Order, titled Order of the Governor in Council of the 7th july 1796 for the regulation of commerce between this province and the United States of America

Quebec Order, 7 July 1796

Only a few years after the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1788 and following the peace treaty signed between the U.S. and the British in 1794, the Governor in Council of British-controlled Lower-Canada, Guy Carleton, passed an act meant to regulate commerce between the province and the new country.

The first page of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, titled An Act to Organize the Territories of Nebraska and Kansas and passed by the thirty-third Congress of the United States

Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854

By the 1850s, tensions in the United States were falling in around a major issue: slavery. As the country expanded relentlessly westward and more territories and states were coming into existence, the question of slave states versus free states grew in its intensity.

Close up of Manilla on Philippines map

Map of the Philippines, 1734

The city of Manila is a perfect place to think about the importance of cities to world history. Founded by Spanish conquistadors on the site of a small harbor town in 1571, Manila provided the specialized spaces necessary for the first truly globe-circling system of imperial exploitation and commerce.

Typed letter

Antifascism and Leftist Politics

In February of 1942, in the middle of World War II, the Mexican feminist, educator, and archaeologist Eulalia Guzmán wrote to Raúl Cordero Amador, president of the organization Acción Democrática Internacional (International Democratic Action). Guzmán prefaced her letter by emphasizing that this antifascist organization was doing important work to fight Nazism and totalitarianism more broadly.

Image of mimeographed letter.

Foundations: Research and Sponsorship

The Brazilian intellectual Paulo Duarte wrote Tracy Kittredge of the Social Science Division of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1941. Duarte, then living in the United States because of his opposition to Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas, had worked alongside the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss in São Paulo in the 1930s.

Photograph from an Independence Protest, Alexandria, Egypt, 1919

Following the close of World War I, Egypt became a hotbed of anti-colonial nationalism. Leaders of the nationalist Wafd party formally demanded Egyptian independence to British and US officials, utilizing many of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s own phrases and rhetoric in their appeals.

Excerpts from Harem Years: Memoirs of an Egyptian Feminist, 1879-1924

The peace process that followed World War One catalyzed calls for self-determination around the colonized world. Existing nationalist organizations seized on the liberal pretensions of the Entente Powers to articulate social and political demands to colonial powers. Egypt, occupied by Britain in 1882 and declared a British protectorate in 1914, was one prominent site of this struggle.

The Miracles of Sainte Foy, Bernard of Angers, c. 1013–1020

In 1013, Bernard of Angers visited the relics of Sainte Foy at the abbey of Conques, in southern France. Initially skeptical of the cult which had formed around this little girl martyr, Bernard nonetheless fell under her spell.

Theophilus, On Diverse Arts (De diversis artibus), c. 1120

Theophilus’ De diversis artibus is the only complete treatise on art to survive from the High Middle Ages. Written under the pseudonym Theophilus, who seems to have been a Benedictine monk of the early twelfth century, it describes techniques of painting, stained glass, and metalwork, introducing each with a prologue deep in religious significance.

Bernard of Clairvaux, Apology (Apologia), 1125

Bernard of Clairvaux was abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux, in Burgundy, France, and a well-known preacher who travelled widely and was involved with many of the most pressing issues of his day, from papal power to the Crusades.