primary sources

  • The Game Is Changing for Historians of Black America

    by William Sturkey

    "Active racism, exclusion, and environmental injustice have systematically destroyed or buried whole sections of Black history. Many of those who gripe about “erasing history” of Confederate monuments and other symbols in the South have no idea how much history has already been erased." Digital newspaper databases and genealogical tools are a key tool for reconstructing the record of Black history.

  • The Strange Case of Booker T. Washington’s Birthday

    by Bill Black

    A history teacher's saga of the verification of a seemingly simple fact shows that sources may not always be reliable, and that our knowledge of many facts is the product of historians' labor. 

  • Working with Histories that Haunt Us

    by Marius Kothor

    The author responds to a recent essay on the traumatic aspects of archival research. As a political exile from Togo, her identity and experience converged with subject matter she couldn't study at a remove. 

  • Please Stop Calling Things Archives: An Archivist's Plea

    by B.M. Watson

    "As many historians currently use the word “archives,” they seem to imply that an archive is the natural state in which primary sources arrange themselves after being discarded or left by their creators."

  • Democracy, History and the Presidential Records Act

    by James Grossman and Richard Immerman

    It's time to update the Presidential Records Act to clarify the kinds of materials that must be preserved and create real penalties for destroying them.