Primary sources provide first-hand accounts of history — written by people who were in the room where it happened. These documents help students better understand historical people and events, and provide a connection between the past and present. We encourage you to dive into the collections below to find primary sources to augment your lessons and activities.

  • Special Collection of Documents on the Industrial Revolution: Search our curated Omeka collection of the most requested primary sources about industrialization in Lowell. The documents, maps, and images, sourced from the collections of Lowell National Historical Park and the University of Massachusetts Lowell Center for Lowell History, cover a wide range of historical topics, including the labor force (in particular, Lowell’s “mill girls”), factory working conditions, engineering and technology, Lowell’s changing cultural and physical landscape, environmental effects of industrialization, and more!

  • Atlas Tool - Historic Maps of Lowell: Explore historic maps of downtown Lowell (1896, 1906, 1907, 1924, 1936) and slide the screen to compare/contrast with a map of Lowell today. A great resource to see how the city changed over time. Prepared by the Leventhal Map and Education Center, Boston Public Library.

  • Lowell National Historical Park Museum Collection: Explore the Park’s diverse collection of natural and historical objects, including a collection of curated highlights featuring items focused on the textile industry, historic preservation, urban green space, and industrial architecture.

  • UMass Lowell Center for Lowell History: Look through the Center’s wide-ranging collections on the history of the Greater Lowell area and UMass Lowell, including oral histories, newspapers, and LibGuides (topical collections). Of particular interest is the collection titled “The Town & the City: Lowell Before the Civil War.”

  • The World of Barilla Taylor: One Mill Girl's Experience in Lowell: Use this interdisciplinary set of primary sources to give students insight into one mill girl’s experience in Lowell. Includes family letters, newspaper articles, mill and hospital records, receipts, advertisements, and lithographs.

  • Bringing History Home: Play this interactive game in which you pretend to be Eliza Paige, a farm girl who has just come to Lowell to work. Use information gathered from primary sources to make decisions that determine Eliza’s future.