Politics 360: Lincoln's Statesmanship (Professor Lucas Morel)

Winter 2023

What Are Primary Sources?

One definition: 

Primary sources are materials in a variety of formats, created at the time under study, that serve as original evidence documenting a time period, event, people, idea, or work.  Primary sources can be printed materials (such as books and ephemera), manuscript/archival materials (such as diaries or ledgers), audio/visual materials (such as recordings or films), artifacts (such as clothes or personal belongings), or born-digital materials (such as emails or digital photographs).     [From the Association of College and Research Libraries]

Abraham Lincoln Papers

The W&L library collections offer some access to several published collections (of Abraham Lincoln's papers (correspondence, etc.).  Note:  The linked search to Primo also will dredge up some irrelevant materials.

A number of institutions are developing online repositories of Lincoln papers, although no one source appears to have "everything."

19th Century Books and Similar Materials

The HathiTrust Digital Library contains the contents of millions of books scanned in several major digitization projects, including many not in W&L collections.   Thousands of items in the database were published in the 19th century.

You can search Hathi to find materials written by Abraham Lincoln's colleagues and other political figures, perhaps with an emphasis on what these people wrote about him.

Start with Hathi's Advanced Full-text Search. An example: To find materials written by William Seward that mention Lincoln, fill out the search form like this, using the drop-down options to label sections:


This search should generate a list of over 50 books, pamphlets, and speeches by Seward that you can page-through.  Important note: You can read only items labeled as "Full View."

19th Century Newspapers

The W&L library subscribes to several database which provide access to 19th-century newspaper articles:  Historical Newspaper Coverage

Of these databases, Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers might be the most productive for this course's research, although others, such as the New York Times, also could be useful.

For example, this search for newspaper articles written by Lincoln yields over 700 articles: