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Research Guides

ISEM101: Sacred Journey (Frey): Primary sources (including digitized versions)

What is a Primary Source?

In the discipline of history Primary Sources are items that were created during the time period under study. They allow researchers to get as close to their object of study as possible in spite of the passage of time. These items might be documents, news stories, letters, diaries, interviews, artifacts, government publications, photographs, or recordings. *The definition of primary source differs in other disciplines, so check with your instructor for specific details.*

In addition to the original items, digital versions of original items or reprints of original items are also considered primary sources.

Digital Collections at Other Institutions

Search for sources and images of Native Americans in these sites.

  • FedFlix
    A repository of government movies in the public domain. Nearly 1000 video files from all aspects of U.S. history. Sponsored by the National Technical Information Service and the non-profit open government organization Public.Resource.Org

  • American Memory from the Library of Congress
    American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity.

  • LIFE Photo Archive Hosted by Google Images from U.S. and world history from the 1750s to the 2000s.

  • Plateau Peoples' Web Portal  (WSU) This portal is a gateway to the cultural materials of Plateau peoples that are held in Washington State University's Libraries, Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections (MASC), the Museum of Anthropology and by national donors. The collections represented here have been chosen and curated by tribal consultants working in cooperation with University and Museum staff.

University of Idaho Digital Collections

The Digital Collections website displays electronic versions of selected items from our Special Collections.  Some sets that may be of interest to Sacred Journey students are:

Nez Perce Tribe Lifelong Learning Online Module (Nez Perce Tribe 2001).

Coeur d'Alene Tribe Lifelong Learning Online Module (Coeur d'Alene Tribe 2002).

Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Lifelong Learning Online Module (Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs 2003).

"Sqigwts," a collaborative project between the Schitsu'umsh (Coeur d'Alene Tribe) and University of Idaho, 2015.  This "proof in concept" project was funded by the USGS, under the purview of the Northwest Climate Science Center.  Among the five "deliverables," the project demonstrates that there is value in Indigenous knowledge and practice, in consort with scientific knowledge, in addressing issues of climate change.  We developed an innovative means to access and disseminate what the Schitsu'umsh call hnkhwelkhwlnet, "our ways of life in the world," though the creation of an interactive 3-D Landscape (using virtual world technology), embedded with the structure and dynamics of Indigenous storytelling. We hope that this presentation of the orality-based Indigenous avoids some of the undermining of meaning that accompanies a literacy-based format.

The Nez Perce Collection

Idaho Cities and Towns


Databases for Primary Sources owned by UI Library


Newspapers are considered primary sources if they contain first-hand accounts and were published at the time an event took place. Newspaper stories that occur after an event and/or contain second-hand accounts are considered primary sources.

  • Pacific Northwest Historical Newspapers Archive
    Historical newspapers from Washington, Oregon and Idaho chronicle the explosive growth of the Pacific Northwest during the 19th and 20th centuries.

  • University of Idaho Argonaut
    The library has the Argonaut on microfilm from 1898 to the present. Full-text is available online from 2000 to the present. Indexing is available for selected years.

  • The New York Times
    The New York Times website has an index that will let researchers search for articles back to the 1851. Some articles are available full-text online. The University of Idaho also has the New York Times on Microfilm.

  • Other Idaho Newspapers
    The library has microfilm reels for many other Idaho newspapers dating back more than 100 years. They are located on the second floor of the library. Indexing is not available for most newspapers, so it helps to know the date of an event when searching for information. Scrolling through issues on or around that date can lead to locating a useful article.