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HIST 260-1: Colonial Latin American History: Primary Sources for Colonial Latin America

History of Latin America in the Colonial Period 1492-1821, Prof. Van Oosterhout

Starting with Primary Sources

Primary sources provide first-hand accounts of events during specific time periods, and demonstrate how participants and observers perceived their lives around them. Primary sources for history include:

  • Diaries, journals, speeches, interviews, letters, memos, manuscripts, and other papers in which individuals describe events in which they were participants or observers;
  • Government or organizational records which document conditions in society (including minutes and reports of an organization or agency, records of births, deaths, marriages; permits and licenses issued; census data; etc.);
  • Books, newspapers, magazines, or journal articles written from a particular time period that provide evidence of opinions or ideas from a time or event; 
  • Photographs, paintings, and other kinds of artifacts (physical objects, buildings, furniture, tools, appliances, household items, clothing, toys) that show events or societal trends from the time.

Searching for Primary Sources in NUSearch

Subject headings link together books on the same topics or themes. For colonial Latin America, relevant subject headings include:

Colonists -- Latin America -- Social life and customs -- Sources
Indigenous peoples -- Latin America -- Social life and customs -- Sources
Latin America --History -- To 1830 -- Sources
Latin America -- Social conditions -- Sources
Latin America -- Politics and government -- To 1830 -- Sources
Spain -- Colonies -- America -- History -- Sources

The easiest way to find subject headings relevant to your topic is to find one source you like, and then check out its subject headings.

Primary Sources Collected in Books

Spanish Colonial Art

Historical Newspapers

Other Collections of Primary Sources available Online