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Human Rights Resources: Primary Sources

Human Rights Archives

American Indian Histories and Cultures. Primary and secondary documents such as artwork, speeches, petitions, diaries, journals, correspondence,  photographs, maps, rare books and newspapers, ranging from the 16th to the 20th century.

Archives of Sexuality and Gender: LGBTQ History and Culture since 1940.Includes newsletters, organizational papers, government documents, manuscripts, pamphlets, personal correspondence and more related to LGBTQ communities around the world.

Avalon Project. Digital historical documents relevant to the fields of law, economics, politics, diplomacy and government. 

Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research. From Columbia University.  Archives of organizations and of individuals who have played significant roles in human rights advocacy, education and research. See especially their web archive.

Center for Research Libraries.  Their Global Resources Human Rights Archives and Documentation Program (HRADP) supports the gathering, preservation and accessibility of archives and documentation regarding violations of human rights and legal proceedings in all world regions.

Civil Rights Digital Library.   Includes a digital video archive of historical news films of the Civil Rights Movement, a civil rights portal providing a virtual library by connecting related digital collections, as well as stories, articles, and lesson plans.

Civil Rights and the Black Freedom Struggle. NAACP Papers and federal government records, organizational records, and personal papers regarding the Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century.

Human Rights Documentation Initiative. Committed to the long-term preservation of fragile and vulnerable records of human rights struggles worldwide, the promotion and secure usage of human rights archival materials, and the advancement of human rights research and advocacy around the world.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education InstitutePapers of Martin Luther King, from Stanford University.

Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies. Archival resources for research into the Rwandan Genocide and Ukrainian Famine.

USC Shoah Foundation. Repository of over 54,000 primary source video testimonies of the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, the Guatemalan Genocide, the Nanjing Massacre, the Cambodian Genocide, the South Sudan Civil War, and more.

Television News of the Civil Rights Era. “An archive containing film footage from the nightly news from two local television stations in Virginia. Included are clips of Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, the governors of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

University of Minnesota Human Rights Library. Contains collection of many of the most important international human rights treaties and other instruments. These documents can be accessed by subject matter, instrument list, or by using one of the search mechanism.

Archives of the United States Government

Confidential U.S. State Department Central Files, 1960-1969, Africa and the Middle East. Contains the U.S. State Department Central Files for Africa and the Middle East, including diplomatic cables. 

Digital National Security Archive (DNSA). Indexes declassified documents spanning fifty years of US national security policy. Also includes a chronology, glossary of names, events, special terms, and a bibliography for each collection developed around a specific event, controversy, or policy decision.

Early American Imprints, Series II (1801-1819). Indexes books, pamphlets, broadsides, state papers and other print genres published from 1801-1819. Covers all aspects of American life including taxation, public health, slavery, military law, Native Americans, Christianity, and much more.

FBI Confidential Files and Radical Politics in the U.S., 1945-1972. Contains the records of the FBI and the Subversive Activities Control Board investigating “subversive” activities.

Federal Surveillance of African Americans, 1920-1984. FBI files on surveillance conducted on Black Americans, civil rights organizations, and other institutions.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports.  Information from foreign media sources, including political speeches, television and radio broadcasts, newspapers, periodicals, and more, translated into English.

ProQuest Congressional. One stop shopping for U.S. congressional publications back to 1789.

US Declassified Documents Online. Declassified via the Freedom of Information Act and regular declassification requests. Nearly every major foreign and domestic event of these years is covered.

Historical Newspapers and Periodicals

19th Century British Newspapers. Contains regional and national papers in England as well as papers from Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Content comes from penny papers read by the working class and papers advocating political or social movements such as Reform, Chartism and Home Rule.

19th Century U.S. Newspapers. Images of both full pages and clipped articles for hundreds of 19th century U.S. newspapers. For each issue, the newspaper is captured from cover-to-cover, providing access to every article, advertisement and illustration.

African Newspapers from the World Newspaper Archive. Digitized historical collection of Sub-Saharan Africa newspapers. Includes over many full-text searchable historical newspapers published in Sub-Saharan Africa prior to 1923. Most titles are in English, with some coverage in African and other European languages.

Historical Newspapers Online. Indexes newspapers covering all aspects of British life and world affairs in the 19th and 20th centuries. Contains four major historical resources: Palmer's Index to the Times which covers The Times (London, 1790-1905); The Official Index to the Times (1906-1980); The Historical Index to the New York Times (1863- 1922); and Palmer's Full Text Online (1785-1870).

Historical Newspapers (ProQuest).  Includes Chicago Defender (1910-1975). Chicago Tribune (1849-1988). Los Angeles Times (1881-1988). San Francisco Chronicle (1865-1922). New York Times (1851-1994) with Index (1851-1993). Wall Street Journal (1889-1994). Washington Post(1877-1995).

Irish Times (1859-2011) and Weekly Irish Times (1876-1958). Full-text of key Irish newspaper from 1859-2011. The historical Irish Times provides comprehensive news reporting as well as sports, business, arts, lifestyle coverage, and more. Each issue contains in-depth analysis and lively debate of current events.

Times Digital Archive.  Online access, fully searchable full text of over 200 years (1785 to 1985, with 1986 to 2003 added later this year) of The London Times, the "world's newspaper of record." [Note: "Sunday Times" is a distinct newspaper with no editorial connection to The Times London, and is not included in this database.]

Archives of Foreign Governments

Apartheid South Africa, 1948-1980. Makes available British government files from various Foreign Offices spanning the period 1948 to 1980. Includes letters, diplomatic dispatches, reports, trial papers, activist biographies and first-hand accounts.

Confidential Print: Africa, 1834-1966. Documents in this resource cover the whole of the modern period of European colonization of the continent. This collection originated out of a need to preserve the most important papers generated by the Foreign and Colonial Offices.

Confidential Print: Latin America, 1833-1969. Covers the South and Central America, plus the non-British islands of the Caribbean, from just after the final Spanish withdrawal from mainland America in the 1820s to the Cold War in the 1960s. Covering revolutions, territorial changes and political movements, foreign financial interests, and much more. 

Confidential Print: Middle East. Digitized collection issued by the UK Foreign and Colonial Offices. This series covers the Middle East, c. 1839 to 1969, for countries of the Arabian peninsula, the Levant, Iraq, Turkey and former Ottoman lands in Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, Egypt and Sudan.

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers. Access to thousands of 18th, 19th and 20th Century Parliamentary Papers. Includes all the "sessional papers" of the British Parliament: bills, reports of committees, papers presented by Royal Commissions and government departments, treaties and international agreements, command papers, and statistics.