Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Religion 303: Sexuality and Religion in Modern America: Primary Sources

Selecting Your Primary Source Material

Selecting your primary source text(s) is one of the most important decisions you will make as you undertake this project.  You will want to spend significant time exploring which documents are available that are related to your topic or interest. Try to give yourself sufficient time to explore multiple options. You will want to choose primary sources that invite numerous questions related to the theme of the course and that are rich and complex enough to allow for extended analysis and interpretation. 

A few words about access:

  • Materials published before January 1, 1923, are in the public domain and are the most likely to have been digitized.  Search the Digital Public Library of America to explore these digitized collections.  
  • A great deal of material available in archives in libraries across the country remains undigitized, meaning you'd need to travel in person to the location to use a collection.
  • Primary source materials published from 1923 forward most likely are still protected by copyright.  Access to these materials, if digitized, will be through subscriptions paid for by libraries.  Newspaper databases and the Archives of Gender and Sexuality are two examples.

Legislation & Court Cases

LexisNexis Academic will help you identify and locate the texts of relevant laws and court decisions.

Statistics & Datasets

Using Secondary Sources as Primary Sources

In some cases, you may wish to interpret as primary sources texts that originally were created as scholarly secondary sources.  For example, if you are investigating the eugenics movement in the United States in the early twentieth century, you could look at articles on the topic that were published in academic journals in the 1910s and 1920s.

Primary Source Anthologies

The following titles in Primo Search offer collections of primary sources that may be relevant to your project.

U.S. Newspapers & Magazines

Online Collections

This is only a sampling of the collections out there, just to get you started!