Featured Primary Sources

American Indians

Nothing can enrich and enliven our understanding of the nation’s past, or dispel apathy about it, more powerfully than primary sources. The primary sources below open up a variety of viewpoints and have been chosen by master teachers specifically for use in the classroom. Affiliate School members can print a packet that includes an image of the document, photograph, or other resource, a transcript where applicable, text to place the document in historical context, and document-based questions. Additionally, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

Bartolomé de las Casas, Aqui se contiene una disputa .... Vallad, Spain: Casa de

Bartolomé de Las Casas debates the subjugation of the Indians, 1550

Creator: Bartolomé de Las Casas Curriculum Subjects: Art Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
The Landing of Henrick Hudson, based on a paint1857. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Landing of Henrick Hudson, 1609

Creator: Martin, Johnson & Co Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Recens Edita totius Novi Belgii [New Netherland - New York], 1730. (Gilder Lehrm

Map of the New World, with European settlements and American Indian tribes, 1730

Creator: Matthew Seutter Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
The Algonquian village of Secotan in present-day North Carolina, an engraving ba

Secotan, an Algonquian village, ca. 1585

Creator: John White Curriculum Subjects: Art Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Primary Sources from Other Sub-Eras

Andrew Jackson, “To the Cherokee Tribe of Indians East of the Mississippi [circu

Andrew Jackson to the Cherokee Tribe, 1835

Creator: Andrew Jackson Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Christopher Columbus’ letter to Ferdinand and Isabella, 1493. Gilder Lehrman Col

Columbus reports on his first voyage, 1493

Creator: Christopher Columbus Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
De Soto's Discovery of the Mississippi, 1858

De Soto’s discovery of the Mississippi, 1541

Creator: Johnson, Fry & Co. Curriculum Subjects: Art, Geography, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
John Winthrop. Oil on canvas, c. 1800.

John Winthrop describes life in Boston, 1634

Creator: John Winthrop Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Landing of Christopher Columbus, 1856

Landing of Columbus, 1492

Creator: Martin, Johnson & Co. Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Sir Francis Drake’s attack on St. Augustine, 1586

Creator: Baptista Boazio Curriculum Subjects: Economics, World History Grade Levels:
Francisco García de Loaysa to to Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, June 21, 1540.

Spain authorizes Coronado’s conquest in the Southwest, 1540

Creator: Francisco García de Loaysa Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
The Brotherton Indians’ agreement to oppose white settlement, January 6, 1780.

The Brotherton Indians of New Jersey, 1780

Creator: Bartholomew Calvin et al. Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Demarcation bull, granting Spain possession of the New World, May 4, 1493.

The Doctrine of Discovery, 1493

Creator: Pope Alexander VI Curriculum Subjects: Geography, Religion and Philosophy, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+