Primary Sources for World History

primary_sources.PNGPrimary Sources for World History

The image to the right is a 17th century Chinese illustration of a crank-operated rotary winnowing fan machine, separating husks from the grain published in 1637.

external image Winnowing_machine.jpg
Female_Rose.pngPrimary Sources by Region from Women in World History.

Internet History Sourcebooks Project from Fordham University.

World History Matters from George Mason University.

World History Primary Source Reader from Bentonville High School

History of the Peloponnesian War
431 B.C.E.
Thucydides' account of the Peloponnesian War, in which Athens and Sparta fought for control of Ancient Greece.

See also Grade 7.30
The Republic
360 B.C.E.
Plato wrote this Socratic dialogue to address issues of political philosophy and ethics, and framed his ideas around the concept of a utopia.

See also Grade 7.34
350 B.C.E.
Aristotle's vision for the role politics can play in creating a virtuous community.

See also Grade 7.34
The Areopagitica
John MIlton's appeal to prevent government censoring of writers written during the English Civil War presented a powerful defense of a right of free speech.

See also World History II.2
Second Treatise of Civil Government
John Locke's vision of government based on natural rights and contract theory where the people have sovereignty.

See also World History I.34 or US Government 2.3
The Spirit of the Laws
Charles de Montesquieu explains his theory of separation of powers and checks and balances.

See also World History I.34 or US Government 2.3
Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality
Jean-Jacques Rousseau argues that inequality in men is unnatural and has developed along with modern society.

See also World History I.34 or US Government 2.3
On Election to Parliament Speech
Edmund Burke's speech argues against unrestrained royal power and for political parties in maintaining opposition to potential abuses by rulers.

See also World History II.3
The Wealth of Nations
Adam Smith's classic statement about free market capitalism and the concept of an "invisible hand" regulating the marketplace.

See also World History II.5
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen
Inspired by the Enlightenment, the National Assembly of France wrote this as a first step to a French Constitution.

See also World History II.3
The Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen
Olympe' de Gouges writes about the failure of the French Revolution that had been based on gender equality, but resulted in no change in conditions and status of women.

See also World History II.3

See also Olympe de Gouges Historical Biography page
Louis XVI Justification of the Flight to Varennes
Louis XVI (Capet) fled Paris during the French Revolution to in Varennes where he and his court were captured. This document was used to show the French that Louis XVI should not be leading the country.

See also World History II.3
Rights of Man

Go here for an excerpt of Rights of Man
Thomas Paine reply to Edmund Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution in France" asserts that men are born, and always continue, free and equal in respect to their rights.

See World History II.3
Vindication of the Rights of Women
Mary Wollstonecraft's early feminist statement, argues that women deserve an education because of the essential roles they play in raising children and being companions to their husbands.

See also United States History I.30 or United States History I.33
The Iron Law of Wages
Banker and early economist David Ricardo claims that wages tend toward the minimum wage necessary to support a worker.

See also Economics 2.9
The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns
Benjamin Constant's philosophy that the Liberty of the Ancients was a republican liberty, which meant citizens could directly participate. Liberty of the Moderns meant that liberty was through civil liberties, which the government could not interfere.
Jewish Disabilities Speech
Thomas Macaulay gave this speech to the House of Commons in which he outlines the various civil prejudices that the Jewish population face and encourages emancipation of the Jewish people.

See also World History II.39
Correspondence on the Actual Value of Opium Delivered to China
Presented to Both Houses of Parliament by the Command of Her Majesty in 1843, this report is a case in which opium transactions are investigated. The case is trying to determine whether or not opium contracts were breached.

See also World History II.13
An Account of the Opening of the Indian Mutiny
Elisa Greathed's account of Indian soldiers beginning mutiny against the leaders of the East India's Company. The tipping point for the soldiers was when they were forced to bite off paper cartilages for their guns which were greased with pork and beef animal fat against Islam and Hindu beliefs.

See also World History II.12
On Liberty
John Stuart Mill argues that people should be free to engage in whatever behavior they wish as long as it does not harm others.
Concentration Camps during the South African / Boer War, 1899-1902
During the South African/Boer War, the British established refugee camps for civilians who were forced out of their homes, however, as the war went on, the refugee camps turned into concentration camps as revealed in these selections from debates in Parliament.

**See also World History II.15**
Dulce et Decorum Est
Wilfred Owen's poem describing a gas attack during World War I. The title is translated to "It is sweet and honorable to die for their fatherland".

See also World History II.18
Treaty of Versailles
The treaty that ended WWI. This treaty is largely regarded as one of the causes of WWII. The treaty forced Germany to accept all responsibility for the war, disarm, and other aspects that left Germany unhappy.

See also World History II.18
September 1, 1939
W.H. Auden wrote this poem at the start of World War II. The poem starts with the failures and frustrations of the past and ends with hope for the future.

See also World History II.24
England, Your England Essay
George Orwell wrote this during the London Blitz, as Nazi planes dropped bombs on the city, seeking to document England and its culture in the event that it is destroyed in the war.

See also World History II.24
The Iron Curtain Speech
Winston Churchill gave this speech in Fulton, Missouri to describe the divisions of territory between the Western powers and the Soviet Union.

See also World History II.25
International Declaration of Human Rights
Written after World War II by the United Nations, the Declaration lists rights that all humans are entitled to under international law.

See also World History II.29
Two Concepts of Liberty Lecture
Isaiah Berlin wrote that there are two types of liberty: positive and negative. Positive liberty is the ability to have control over one's own life. Negative liberty is the absence of barriers.
Statement at the Rivonia Trial
Nelson Mandela's impassioned statement of his political beliefs at the trial where he was sentenced to life imprisonment where he articulated "an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

See also World History II.44
Peace, Progress, and Human Rights Speech
Andrei Sakharov's speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975 for his work for human rights in opposition to the leaders of the Soviet Union.

See also World History II.41
The Power of the Powerless Essay
Vaclav Havel's essay about how life in Communist societies creates the conditions for revolt by dissidents and includes strategies for those who are united by a common cause.

See also World History II.41
The Fifth Modernization Essay
Wei Jingsheng urges China to adopt democracy as a way to modernize its society; he was convicted of political counterrevolutionary by the government and imprisoned from 1978 to 1993.

See also World History II.34
Nobel Peace Price Lecture
Lech Walesa's speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 for his work as for the right of workers to organize in Poland.

See also World History II.40
Human Rights in China Speech
Fang Lizhi was a Chinese astrophysicist and political activist who wrote about bringing democracy to China before and after the Tiananmen Square demonstrations of 1989.

See also World History II.33 or World History II.34
In Good Faith Essay
Salman Rushdie's essay in which he affirms his respect for Islam as a religion despite a death sentence issued for him for Iranian clerics.

See also World History II.47
Latin America: The Democratic Option Speech
Mario Vargas Llosa's speech as a Presidential candidate in Peru in 1990 calling for privatization, a market economy, free trade, and most importantly, the dissemination of private property.
Arab Human Development Report for the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development
Reports written by the United Nations on the conditions and freedoms of people in Arab countries.

See also World History II.47