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Latin American & Caribbean Studies Subject Guide — Finding Primary Sources

Information on finding and searching for books, journals and other resources for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Primary Sources

Image of a 19th century court case document from Puerto Rico describing a lawsuit between neighbors in the town of Arecibo.The Archives and Special Collections Department (ASC) housed several collections of rare books, journals and government records relevant to Spain, Latin American and the Hispanic Caribbean. The majority of the collections are only accessible through the archives but a selection from some of these collections have been digitized. Below is a list with these collections and where to find them. Visit the ASC site to learn how to get access to these materials.

Photo info: Image of a 19th century court case document from Puerto Rico describing a lawsuit between neighbors in the town of Arecibo.


The Puerto Rico Digital Collection Guide is a selection of 19th and 20th century books and magazines mainly from the Puerto Rican Collection (a.k.a the Géigel Collection) that have been digitized by the UConn Library.

Other collections available at ASC are:

Today, the web contains many archival and rare books materials that have been digitized and are available online. Below is a list of some of the best databases and sites to search for primary sources online.

Primary Sources Databases:

Online Archival Sites:

Newspapers are a type of primary source used in history. Many archives have newspapers collections, and some of them have even been digitized and may available online. Depending on the context, the time that the news was published and the type of account (chronicles, editorials, etc.) a newspapers account can be considered a primary or secondary sources. Check with your professor before using these resources.

As any primary sources used for historical research, be aware of the strengths (first witness accounts) and weakness (bias, forgetfulness, sensationalism) of this type of sources.

Historical Newspapers Databases:

The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity. Below is an example of the richness of this material for political sciences and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Below is a selection of the volumes available online that related to Latin America and the Caribbean. Visit their site to see the whole list.

Mesoamerican codices refers to pre-Colombian folding books made out of tree bark, deer hide. These books were used by different culture in Mesoamerica by Aztec, Mayan and other indigenous groups to record religious rituals, and historical events. There are also Post-Conquest codices created by (or in collaboration with) indigenous people that combine Pre-Hispanic iconography with European aesthetic and book making techniques. The Archives and Special Collections at the Dodd Research Center has facsimiles of these books available for research.

Few of these unique primary sources had survived today but the ones that survived have been digitized and made available freely online. Here is a selection of codices that you can use for your research:

Identifying Primary & Secondary Sources for Humanities and Social Sciences

Identifying Primary and Secondary Sources for Humanities

Test your ability to identify items as primary or secondary sources in this quick, interactive exercise!