Skip to Main Content

History 151 - World History I (Matsumoto): Suggested Primary Sources

YouTube Video - Primary & Secondary Sources

Courtesy of The Hartness Library - Community College of Vermont and Vermont Technical College.

What's the difference?

A PRIMARY SOURCE is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event. Some types of primary sources include:

  • ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS: (excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, oral histories, manuscripts, letters, interviews, original news film footage, autobiographies, official record, newspaper ads/stories
  • CREATIVE WORKS: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art, photographs
  • RELICS OR ARTIFACTS: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings

Examples of primary sources include:

  • Diary of Anne Frank - Experiences of a Jewish family during WWII
  • The Constitution of Canada - Canadian History
  • A journal article reporting NEW research or findings
  • Weavings and pottery - Native American history
  • Plato's Republic - Women in Ancient Greece

A SECONDARY SOURCE interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them. Some types of secondary sources include:

  • PUBLICATIONS: Textbooks, magazine articles, histories/biographies, criticisms, commentaries, encyclopedias

Examples of secondary sources include:

  • A journal/magazine article which interprets or reviews previous findings (analysis/criticism)
  • A history textbook
  • A book about the effects of WWI
  • A film documentary
  • An exhibit or diagram depicting an interpretation of a historical event, person, articfact, etc.

Information courtesy of Princeton University Libraries -

Recommended Websites

Instructor's Suggested Primary Sources - Face-to-Face Class Only

Laws regarding marriage, the raising of children, and family life in general

  • Mesopotamia
    • Hammurabi’s Code: Laws on Society and Family Life (Sources-Textbook)
  • Islamic Societies
    • Guidance: Alms, Marriage, and Testimony (Sources-Textbook)


Gender differences in law and custom

  • China
    • Lessons for Women (Sources-Textbook)
    • Widows Loyal Unto Death (Sources-Textbook)
    • Sixth Century Biographies of Buddhist Nuns (McKay- Textbook)
    • Primary Sources with DBQs(website with links to primary sources)     



  • Ancient China
    • Chinese Culture: The Homosexual Tradition in China (website with links to primary sources)


Religious tolerance

  • Islamic Societies 600-1400
    • Qur’an: Muslim Devotion to God (Sources-Textbook)
    • Book of Travels(Sources-Textbook)
    • On Shi’ite Succession (Sources-Textbook)
    • Guidance: Alms, Marriage, and Testimony (Sources-Textbook)
  • China 221 BCE-800 CE
    • A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms (Sources-Textbook)
    • Buddha Preaching (image) (Sources-Textbook)
    • Lives of the Eminent Monks (Sources-Textbook)
    • Edict on the Suppression of Buddhism (Sources-Textbook)
    • Primary Sources with DBQs(website with links to primary sources)
  • Rome 750 BCE- 400 CE
    • Apologia (Sources-Textbook)
    • Letters to and from the Emperor Trajan on Christians (Sources-Textbook)
    • City of God: A Denunciation of Paganism (Sources-Textbook)
  • Mongols
    • Book of Travels (Sources-Textbook)
    • The Mongols in World History” (website with links to primary sources)                                                                                         

 The relationship between religion & state

  • Islamic societies
    • The Constitution of Medina (Sources-Textbook)
  • Ancient Egypt
    • Hymn to the Nile (Sources-Textbook)


Legal codes and criminal persecution

  • Babylon
    • Hammurabi’s Code: Laws on Society and Family Life (Sources-Textbook)
  • Rome 750-400 CE
  • Islamic societies
    • The Constitution of Medina (Sources-Textbook)
    • Guidance: Alms, Marriage, and Testimony (Sources-Textbook)


Epidemic disease – and societal responses


 Economic and Social Inequality

  • India
    • The Laws of Manu (Sources-Textbook)
  • Medieval Europe
    • Domesday Book (Sources-Textbook)
    • Magna Carta: The Great Charter of Liberties (Sources-Textbook)


Colonization policies and impact on colonized communities

  • Ancient Greece
    • Histories: On Sparta (Sources-Textbook)
    • Pericles’s Funeral Speech (McKay- Textbook)
    • Unknown Author on the Athenian Constitution (McKay- Textbook)
  • Aztecs
    • Book of the Gods and Rites(Sources-Textbook)
  • The Mongols
    • The Secret History of the Mongols (Sources-Textbook)
    • Khubilai Khan Hunting (image) (Sources-Textbook)
    • Epitaph for the Honorable Menggu (Sources-Textbook)
    • Travels: Description of the World (Sources-Textbook)
    • The Mongols in World History (website with links to primary sources)                                                                                        
  • Rome
  • Incas
    • Chronicles: On the Inca (Sources-Textbook) 


The Environment – environmental decline and collapse of civilization

Honolulu Community College Library
874 Dillingham Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96817
Email: Web:
We only accept suggested resources from members of the HonCC community.