Featured Primary Sources

Military History

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, and text to place the document in historical context. Additionally, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

Abraham Lincoln, General Orders No. 141, September 25, 1862 (GLC06099)

A proclamation on the suspension of habeas corpus, 1862

Creator: Abraham Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississippi [map of North America], by Guil

Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississipi, 1718

Creator: Guillaume De l’Isle Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels:
 Brett G. Coughlin to Kit, December 26, 1990 (Andrew Carroll/The Legacy Project)

Christmas in Kuwait, 1990

Creator: Brett G. Coughlin Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels:
Theodore Roosevelt to William H. Hunt, September 26, 1901 (Gilder Lehrman Collec

Confirming governors for territories of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, 1901

Creator: Theodore Roosevelt Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
William E. Mitchell to Lester D. Gardner, July 26, 1924 (Gilder Lehrman Collecti

Creating the Air Force, 1924

Creator: William E. Mitchell Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Paul Jones Semmes to Emily J. Semmes, July 9, 1863 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Death of a soldier, 1863: Paul Semmes

Creator: Paul Jones Semmes Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Mark Rickert to Merle Kilgore, September 14, 2003. ( Andrew Carroll / The Legacy

Discovering a mass grave in Iraq, 2003

Creator: Mark Rickert Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
George Washington to Henry Knox, February 3, 1787. (Gilder Lehrman Collectio

George Washington discusses Shays’ Rebellion and the upcoming Constitutional Convention, 1787

Creator: George Washington Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Henry Knox to Lucy Knox, July 8, 1776. (GLC02437.00363)

Henry Knox on the British invasion of New York, 1776

Creator: Henry Knox Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Henry Knox, Order of march to Trenton, December 26, 1776 (Gilder Lehrman Collect

Henry Knox’s Order of March to Trenton, 1776

Creator: Henry Knox Curriculum Subjects: Geography, Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Declaration of War against the United States and Britain [in Japanese], December

Japan declares war, 1941

Creator: Hirohito, Emperor of Japan Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Thomas Jefferson to James Maury Esq., June 16, 1815. (Gilder Lehrman Collect

Jefferson on British aggression, 1815

Creator: Thomas Jefferson Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Paul Revere, “The Bloody Massacre in King-Street, March 5, 1770.” Boston, 1770.

Paul Revere’s engraving of the Boston Massacre, 1770

Creator: Paul Revere Curriculum Subjects: Art, World History Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Irving Kaplan, Preliminary statement of the Association of Manhattan District Sc

Physicists predict a nuclear arms race, 1945

Creator: Association of Manhattan District Scientists Curriculum Subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, World History Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861.

President Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, 1861

Creator: Abraham Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
The Inaugural address of President Abraham Lincoln delivered at the National Cap

President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, 1865

Creator: Abraham Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
King George III, Proclamation of 1763, 1763. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Proclamation of 1763, 1763

Creator: George III, King of Great Britain Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Map of Yorktown, Virginia, October 1781 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Surrender of the British General Cornwallis to the Americans, October 19, 1781

Creator: Lord Cornwallis Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
"Bloody Butchery by the British Troops,” broadside by Ezekiel Russell, 1775. (Th

The Battles of Lexington and Concord, 1775

Creator: Ezekiel Russell Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Emancipation Proclamation [California printing, Cheesman copy], January 1, 1863

The Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863

Creator: Abraham Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863 (Gilder Lehrman Collectio

The Gettysburg Address, 1863

Creator: Abraham Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics, Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
A Memorial of the State of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in New England to Q

The Province of Massachusetts Bay requests aid from Queen Anne, 1708

Creator: Thomas Oliver Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Expeditionis Hispanorum in Angliam, 1588, by Robert Adams (London, 1590). (LOC)

The Spanish Armada, 1588

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels:
True copy of articles, whereupon . . . the New Netherlands were surren

The surrender of New Netherland, 1664

Creator: Richard Nicholls Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Theodore Roosevelt to Oscar King Davis, June 23, 1915. (Gilder Lehrman Collectio

Theodore Roosevelt on the sinking of the Lusitania, 1915

Creator: Theodore Roosevelt Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Victory Order of the Day,” May 8, 1945. (GLC05622.04)

Victory Order of the Day, 1945

Creator: Dwight D. Eisenhower Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels:
William T. Sherman to David Douty Colton, September 26, 1878 (Gilder Lehrman Col

William T. Sherman on the western railroads, 1878

Creator: William Tecumseh Sherman Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
 Braxton Bragg to Henry J. Hunt, April 21, 1861. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

“Almost brothers” divided by the Civil War, 1861

Creator: Braxton Bragg and Henry Hunt Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“Men of Color, to Arms! to Arms!” broadside, ca. 1863 (Private Collection)

“Men of Color, To Arms! To Arms,” 1863

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: