Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Online Research Resources for NHD Students

National History Day in Wisconsin

Online Research Resources | National History Day in Wisconsin | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historians search a variety of sources to help them understand the past, including primary and secondary sources. Both are important for a good History Day project. There are many places to look for them. The web has an ever increasing amount of primary sources.

Below are links to some of the resources past National History Day students have found useful.

Research Activities

This presentation and worksheets provide possible research sources to investigate.

Research Websites


  • BadgerLink: DPI website featuring search capabilities for library catalogs and online databases, including the world's largest newspaper database. Free for Wisconsin students, unlike other database services. Especially useful portions of Badgerlink include:

    • NewspaperArchive: search millions of newspaper articles from 1700's to present
    • EBSCO: Search topics in multiple journals and publications in numerous databases
  • Google Books: The full text of millions of books from libraries all over the world, and every word is searchable. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a partner in this project, meaning many resources are now available digitally.
  • University of Wisconsin Library Catalog: Online library catalog for all University of Wisconsin-Madison libraries. Find resources for use online (including databases, journal articles, etc.) and print sources for use in Madison, or through interlibrary loan.

It's Worth a Look!

  • Librarians Internet Index: 14 main topic areas divide this site, which lists creditable websites to use for research. Each topic area is subdivided into more specific topics, allowing you to find good research websites related to thousands of topics.

Wisconsin-Related Websites

  • The Encyclopedia of Milwaukee: Entries on Milwaukee history, includes images and other primary sources.
  • The Library Catalog: Search engine for Wisconsin Historical Society Archives. Find collections held at the Madison headquarters or at Area Research Centers (ARCs) throughout the state. Materials can be loaned within these locations.
  • La Crosse History Unbound: Full text, digitized primary and secondary material relating to the La Crosse area.
  • National Archives at Chicago: The National Archives at Chicago has more than 85,000 cubic feet of historical records dating from 1800 to the 1990s, including textual records and non-textural records such as maps and photographs from Federal courts and some 85 Federal agencies in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
  • Wisconsin County Histories: Search for information based on a specific county in Wisconsin.
  • Wisconsin Digital Collections: Primary and Secondary sources on a variety of Wisconsin topics. Information on specific cities and individuals available, and is fully searchable.
  • Recollection Wisconsin: Online research sources about Wisconsin history owned by libraries, archives, and museums all across the state.
  • Wisconsin Historical Society: Explore Our Collections: Main research page indexing available research databases, catalogs and finding aids, and other resources affiliated with the Wisconsin Historical Society and its holdings.

United States History

  • American Journeys: Contains more than 18,000 pages from North American exploration. Documents from missionaries, explorers, and Native Americans included among the variety of rare sources.
  • American Memory Project: Library of Congress: Millions of documents from historic events, people, and ideas that shaped America. Over 100 thematic collections organize the over 9 million items in this digital collection.
  • The American Presidency: This website brings together more than 86,000 documents in a searchable database format. Documents range from inaugural addresses to public papers.
  • The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History & Diplomacy: Divided by time period, this site run by Yale Law Schools brings together important documents in law making. Ancient documents to 21st century can be found from a variety of places around the world that influenced law.
  • Cornell University Library Windows on the Past: Group of digital collections from Cornell's collections. Topics are varied, including diverse collections from Latin America & New York State records, to collections on historic agriculture & math books.
  • Diplomacy in Action: U.S. Dept of State: Over 350 volumes relating to American foreign policy. Can be searched by presidential term or topic, beginning with the Truman administration in 1952 through the end of the Nixon-Ford administrations in 1976.
  • Documenting the American South: Digital resources on topics in 12 categories ranging from slave narratives to the South in various wars. Primary documents found along with brief descriptions of the topic.
  • The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition: An online collection of documents relating to the Atlantic slave system including articles, cartoons, letters, and speeches.
  • Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Thousands of digital sources indexed by time period. Sources vary from Colonial America, the French Revolution, to Socialism to Decolonization. Suggests extensive lists of online sources for research depending on topic.
  • Library of Congress- Prints & Photographs: Over 1 million digital images from the collection of the Library of Congress.
  • The National Archives: Homepage to our Nation's Archives. Based on your topic, begin research here for primary documents or images related to your interest.
  • The National Security Archive: Access to declassified national security documents through digitized collections. Topics from U.S. Intelligence to nuclear history can be researched here.
  • Primary Documents from the Library of Congress: Primary sources organized into three time periods: The American Revolution (1763-1815), National Expansion & Reform (1815-1860), Civil War & Reconstruction (1860-1877). 20th century documents are soon to be added.
  • Society for American Baseball Research: Connects baseball research websites that document the history of the sport. Research page shows specific events in baseball, oral histories, baseball in Asia, among many important topics relating to the sport.
  • Supreme Court Landmarks: This podcast series features landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases that have shaped history and continue to affect American life. In each episode we briefly discuss a different landmark case with a law professor. We explain the case's background, the key arguments, the decision and why the case is still important today.

European History

  • EuroDocs: Digitized documents divided by country. Connects user to important primary and secondary documents based on event or time period within a given country's list.
  • The European Library: Searches the content of European National Libraries. User can select digitized collection to view materials available online from these sources.
  • Europeana: Links user to over 4 million images, texts, and videos on European topics from archives, collections, and museums throughout the continent. Items are constantly added with the digitizing of collections.
  • The Labyrinth: Resources for Medieval Studies: Sponsored by Georgetown University, this website brings together various sources on medieval topics. Divided into time period (such as Byzantine) or by topic (such as astronomy). 

Ancient History

  • Ancient & Classic Cultures: Collection of links to websites about ancient cultures around the world. Includes sites about Africa, Asia Minor, Aztecs, Celts, China, Egyptians, Greeks, Hebrews, Incas, India, Inuit, Muslims, Mongolia, Persia, Romans, Viking, and wonders of the ancient world.
  • Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Collection of links to historic collections from a variety of ancient sources. Edited by a historian, topics discussed include Greece, Rome, and Mesopotamia among others.
  • Perseus Digital Library: Contains information on the history, culture and literature of Greece and Rome. Primary sources and reference works such as encyclopedias.

History of Science

  • History of Science & Technology: University of Wisconsin digital collections of science & technology related primary and secondary sources. Also includes writings about scientific discoveries & research at the University of Wisconsin.
  • Images from the History of Medicine: Over 70,000 images relating to medicine and health.
  • Internet History of Science: Divided by culture or time period, this website brings together important primary documents in the history of science. Resources date from ancient times to moral issues in modern science.
  • Internet Resources for History of Science & Technology: Guide to databases, e-journals, & e-books on science and technology topics. Provides starting points for research in these topic areas by connecting the user to other sites or databases with relevant information.
  • NASA History Division: Alphabetical or topical index allows the user to research various NASA topics. Biographies, milestones, photos and videos are also included. 

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