Primary Sources

Primary sources take the reader to major historic moments as they are happening. This reading set has newspaper articles contemporaneous to an event. Teachers might find them useful as a starting point for a class project, a launch point for a class discussion, or an enhancement for a study unit.

Primary Source: Comanche, the Army Horse and Hero

On June 25, 1876, the U.S. Army 7th Calvary under the command of Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer engaged in battle with Native Americans, including the Lakota, the Dakota, and the Arapaho tribes.  The army troops were vastly outnumbered. All the soldiers with Custer when the battle began, totaling five…

Primary Source: Spanish Flu Pandemic

The Oregonian is a daily newspaper in Portland, Oregon. It has been published daily since 1861. This is a newspaper article from The Oregonian published October 12, 1918. The flu epidemic is believed to have begun in late 1917 or early 1918. The U.S. had entered World War I on…

Votes for Women Ratified Reading Passage Image

Primary Source: Votes for Women Ratified

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” This is the full text of the 19th Amendment to the…

Primary Source: The 1900 Galveston Hurricane

The 1900 Great Galveston Hurricane made landfall on September 8, 1900. At that time, Galveston was the third largest city in Texas with an estimated population of 40,000 people. It was an important city on the Gulf of Mexico. By the time the storm passed, the hurricane and the resulting…

Primary Source: The Wright Brothers Fly

Brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright are credited with building and flying the first powered airplane. The first flights took place December 17, 1903 in North Carolina. Below is an article about the historic moment from  The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 7, 1904. —————————                                                                   FLYING MACHINE                                                                  HAS COME AT LAST…

Primary Source: Gold in California!

On January 24, 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill near present-day El Dorado County, California. At that time, California was a new territory of the United States and sparsely populated. It took a while for the news to reach the established parts of the U.S. The first publication of…

Primary Source: The Titanic Is Sinking

RMS Titanic was an ocean liner built in 1912. One of the largest liners of the time, it had many modern design elements and luxury features. The Titanic began its maiden voyage, or first trip, on April 10, 1912 carrying over 2,300 passengers and crew. The ship was to travel…

Primary Source: First Modern Olympic Games

This newspaper article from the Boston Daily Advertiser, March 24, 1896 tells of the first modern Olympic Games which were held in Athens, Greece on April 6, 1896. ——————————-                                                              THE OLYMPIC GAMES The departure of eight American athletes for the Olympic games is a notable event in American Athletics.…