Featured Primary Sources

Religion

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.

San Diego, California, c1904. Detroit Publishing, Library of Congress

A report from Spanish California, 1776

Creator: Fernando de Rivera y Moncada Curriculum Subjects: Foreign Languages, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
The Christian History, June 30, 1744, published by Thomas Prince (GLC08819p137)

A revival of religious fervor, 1744

Creator: Thomas Prince Curriculum Subjects: Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels:
[Abstinence pledge card], September 23, 1842 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Abstinence pledge card, 1842

Creator: Mathew Theobald Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
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+
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:
Samuel Russell to his mother and sisters, June 10, 1862 (Gilder Lehrman Collecti

On the emigrant trail, 1862

Creator: Samuel Russell Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels:
Stephen Austin’s contract to bring settlers to Texas, June 4, 1825 (Gilder L

Stephen Austin’s contract to bring settlers to Texas, 1825

Creator: Stephen Austin Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“Thanksgiving-Day,” by Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly, December 5, 1863. (Gilder L

Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1863

Creator: Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Nast Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics 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+
Samuel Wood, Injured Humanity; Being A Representation of What the Unhappy Childr

The horrors of slavery, 1805

Creator: Samuel Wood Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Daniel Horsmanden, A Journal of the Proceedings . . . 1744. (GLC04502.01)

The New York Conspiracy of 1741

Creator: Daniel Horsmanden Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Expeditionis Hispanorum in Angliam, 1588, by Robert Adams (London, 1590). (LOC)

The Spanish Armada, 1588

Creator: Robert Adams Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels:
Joseph Rumshinsky, “Mamenu” or “The Triangle Victims,” 1911. (GLC06225)

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, 1911

Creator: Joseph Rumshinsky Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Foreign Languages, Literature, Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels:
Christian Discipline: Certain Good and Wholesome Orders for the Well-Governing o

William Penn on the “Well-Governing of My Family,” 1751

Creator: William Penn Curriculum Subjects: Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+