Gateway to Electronic Databases of Primary Sources

This selection represents some of the more comprehensive databases for European history that provide a good starting point for your research or teaching needs. Resources for regions outside of Europe are also provided to support broader studies. For electronic databases of primary sources for specific countries, click on the country:   


Use the key below to determine the types of materials represented in each database.

P = primary sources
S = secondary sources 
FT = full text available (for some or all)
I = images
AV = audio-visual media (oral histories, music, etc.)

Digital Library of the Catholic Reformation – P FT – Texts written by Catholic authors in the 16th and 17th centuries that include papal documents, synodal decrees, catechisms, confessors’ manuals, biblical commentaries, theological treatises, liturgical works, inquisitorial manuals, preaching guides, saints’ lives, and devotional literature.

Digital Library of Classical Protestant TextsP FT – Collection of theological writings, biblical commentaries, confessional documents, and polemical treatises written by more than 300 Protestant authors from the Reformation and post-Reformation eras.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) – P FT – Collection of books, pamphlets, essays, broadsides, and ephemera printed in the United Kingdom during the eighteenth century. Also includes thousands of works from the Americas. Text collection is supplemented with an image gallery, chronologies, overviews of historical periods and topics, and other teaching materials.

EuroDocs  P FT – Extensive database that provides links to primary sources (and a few secondary) documenting the political, economic, cultural, and social history of Western Europe. The site can be searched by country or by the categories “Prehistoric and Ancient Europe,” “Medieval and Renaissance Europe,” and “Europe as a Supranational Region.”

European History Primary Sources – P FT I AV– Searchable index of repositories of major national libraries and smaller digitization projects in Europe for digitized historical source material. Primary sources include archival documents, manuscripts, incurables, books, images, videos, maps, music, interviews, sheet music, and much more. [This is a good starting point. EHPS aims to collect and provide access to the most important collections of digitized primary sources for European history that are scattered across the web.]

Europeana – P FT – Digitized collections from European museums, libraries, archives and galleries. The collections focus on European culture and include information about books, poems, newspapers, films, authors, actors, architects, dancers, conductors, photographers, buildings, monuments, etc.

First World War: Personal Experiences and Propaganda and Recruitment – P S FT I AV – Original documents related to the First World War, including diaries, letters, personal narratives, trench journals, scrapbooks, objects, visual resources, and maps. Supplemented by essays, chronologies, short topical guides, external links, glossaries, and other resources useful to starting research. Read more

Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO) – P FT I – Asia and the West: Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange; British Politics and Society; British Theatre, Music, and Literature, High and Popular Culture, and European literature 1790-1840: the Corvey Collection; Europe and Africa: Commerce, Christianity, Civilization, and Conquest; Photography: The World through the Lens; Science, Technology, and Medicine; and Women: Transnational Networks.
Online tutorials for using the collection (provided by the vendor)


Oral History Online – P FT AV – An expanding collection of full-text oral histories (in English) accompanied by an index to free oral history information on the Web. Read more

Silent Film Online – P S AV – Database that contains over 500 silent features, serials, and shorts spanning from the 1890s to the 1930s from Germany, Britain, the Soviet Union, and France and related documentary films from this era. Read more

Slavery & Anti-Slavery: A Transnational ArchiveP S FT I – 3 million pages of materials drawn from books, serials, manuscript collections, supreme court records and briefs, and reference articles related to the transatlantic slave trade and global efforts to abolish slavery from the 16th to 19th centuries. Supplemented with bibliographies, and external links to other primary sources, images, and research and teaching resources.

Wilson Center Digital ArchiveP FT – Digitized collections of declassified documents from governments throughout the world that support  research on international relations and foreign policy. The collections can be search by location, topic/region/event, or theme.

World History in Video – S AV – Collection of critically acclaimed documentaries that will eventually include more than 1,750 titles (935 titles available as of 5/2013). Videos document Africa, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceana and cover events such as the Protestant Reformation, French Revolution, Boer War, Russian Revolution, World Wars, Holocaust, Cold War, European Union, and much more. Database is searchable by subject, historical era, years, historical events, people, and places.

List of all of Hesburgh Libraries’ databases