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Primary Source Timeline
See our Primary Source Timeline to browse a selection of primary source databases organized by coverage dates and locations.
Primary sources are generally defined as material produced at the time of an event, or by a person being studied. Examples of primary sources are:
- personal and professional correspondence
- professional papers
- diaries and memoirs
- political documents
- photographs and other images
- works of art and literature
- interviews and oral histories
- newspapers and magazine articles when written at the time of an event
Whenever possible, primary sources should be consulted. The thoughts of those who lived through an era or an event provide you with first-hand perspective and allow you to question and challenge the assumptions made in secondary sources. Examining primary sources can also help you develop a thesis.
Primary sources can be difficult to find. Most databases do not have an option that allows for direct searching on primary sources. They are often interspersed in books or disorganized in large collections of materials.
Detailed information about how to locate primary sources can be found on our Finding Primary Sources page.
The databases below are also collections of primary source material useful for East Asian Studies.
Primary Sources in Chinese Studies
Historical Chinese Newspapers
A collection of 22 English-language newspapers published in China between 1832 and 1953. Part of the Historical Newspapers database. Purchase made possible through a bequest of Eleanor Cogan (Honorary Doctor of Liberal Arts, 2003), library volunteer and longtime friend of the college. Coverage: contains primary sources. Full text.
Chinese Civil War & US-China Relations: Records Of US State Dept Office Chinese Affairs (Archives Unbound)
The U.S. State Department’s Office of Chinese Affairs, charged with operational control of American policy toward China, amassed information on virtually all aspects of life there immediately before, during, and after the revolution. Declassified by the State Department, the Records of the Office of Chinese Affairs provide insight into domestic issues in Communist and Nationalist China, U.S. containment policy as it was extended to Asia, and Sino-American relations during the post-war period. Coverage: 1945-1955, contains primary sources.
General George C. Marshall's Mission to China: 1945-1947 (Archives Unbound)
Includes War Department records; Records of the Marshall Mission relating to Political Affairs; Records of the Marshall Mission relating to Military Affairs; Records of the Division of Chinese Affairs; Records of John Carter Vincent; and Marshall's report. Coverage: contains primary sources.
Primary Sources in Japanese Studies
Japan at War and Peace, 1930-1949: U.S. State Department Records on the Internal Affairs of Japan (Archives Unbound)
Documentation of a variety of topics relating to Japanese internal affairs between the World Wars, including: politics, the rise of Bolshevism and radicalism, militarism, Sino-Japanese war, trade and tariffs, social control, labor development and unrest, emigration, war, military, armament, economics, industry, trade, and the afects of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. Coverage: 1930-1949, contains primary sources. Full-Text.
Japan Times Digital Archive
An archive of every issue of The Japan Times published from 1897 to 2020. The Japan Times is a daily newspaper reported in English on various aspects of Japanese society. Coverage: 1897-2020 (new content added annually), contains primary sources. Full-text.