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Primary Sources for K-12 Educators

This guide is for K-12 educators seeking digital primary sources to use in their classrooms.
There are a number of places to search for digital primary sources. While search Google is one way to find sources there are many places to search that specifically focus on primary source collections and topics. This is a guide to a number of quality libraries, archives, museums, galleries, and exhibits that can provide you or your students with free digital primary sources to use in teacher, learning, and research.

  • Library and Archives Canada - Library and Archives Canada (LAC) combines the holdings, services and staff of both the former National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada. LAC preserves the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations.


  • Early Canadiana Online -is a full-text collection of published documentary material, including monographs, government documents, and specialized or mass-market periodicals from the 16th to 20th centuries. Law, literature, religion, education, women’s history and aboriginal history are particular areas of strength. This resource combines content from the CIHM microfilm series with full-colour scans of rare, primary-source titles.


  • Canadiana Discovery Portal - Provides images and texts from over 30 different library, museum, and archive collections across Canada. Most of the resources are online, but some may just provide information about the print resource.


  • SFU Digitized Collections - The Simon Fraser University Library digitized collections include over 130 collections, with more than 1.3 million digitized newspapers, photographs, documents, sound recordings, and other objects.  


  • City of Vancouver Archives - The City of Vancouver Archives is responsible for acquiring, organizing, and preserving Vancouver's historical records and making them available to the widest possible audience. Their holdings include: City of Vancouver government records (public records)


  • Points to the Past - Provides permanent access to all of the Gale Digital Collections products – nearly 200 million pages of digitized historical content.


  • Musée McCord Museum - The McCord Museum conserves objects, images, and manuscripts reflecting the social history and material culture of Montreal, Quebec and Canada. The website contains more than 135,000 digitized images of artifacts accessible using the online


  • NYPL Digital Gallery - Provides access to over 300,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the New York Public Library collections such as illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, and printed ephemera.


  • Internet Archive: Text Archive - Provides access to over 10,000,000 fully accessible public domain eBooks and texts, including many historical primary sources from various libraries and from Project Gutenberg.

  • Royal BC Museum - The Royal BC Museum Corporation is one of Canada’s greatest cultural treasures. The museum was founded in 1886; the Archives, in 1894. In 2003, these two organizations joined to become British Columbia’s combined provincial museum and archives, collecting artifacts, documents and specimens of British Columbia’s natural and human history, safeguarding them for the future and sharing them with the world.


  • Museum of Anthropology Online Exhibits - The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada is renowned for its displays of world arts and cultures, in particular works by First Nation band governments of the Pacific Northwest.


  • Glenbow Museum  - The Glenbow Museum in Calgary contains an extensive collection of art, artifacts, archival materials, and published works which document the history and culture of Western Canada. Some of these materials have been digitally scanned.


  • Our Ontario - Partnership of cultural and heritage organizations in Ontario which provides access to over 1.8 million digital resources


  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) - The MET online collections contains a number of digital works of art from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt, paintings and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, and an extensive collection of American and modern art. 


  • Getty Museum Collection - 87,000+ high resolution, reproduction-quality digital images of artworks from the J. Paul Getty Museum collections available for download with embedded metadata. Includes: Foto Arte Minore collection of 72,000 Max Hutzel photographs of art and architecture in Italy and nearly 5000 images of 15th-18th century tapestries. The Getty Search Gateway offers a search of all Getty repositories including collections databases, library catalogs, collection inventories, and archival finding aids.


  • The Walters Art Museum - Thousands of high-quality digital images of artworks from around the world and across the centuries available for download.



  • Victoria and Albert Museum - Search for over half a million works and images from the V&A collections. The database covers a wide range of objects, including ceramics, fashion, furniture, glass, metalwork, paintings, photographs, prints, sculpture, and textiles.