As a college librarian, I often hear stressed-out students searching for primary sources say, "I'll take anything." Don't settle for just anything. There is a treasury of primary source material available electronically. Peruse my selection of 200-plus primary source sites by conducting a keyword search, exploring the tag cloud at left, or browsing by historical era. You can also visit my Delicious and Diigo sites to review my bookmarks. Here's hoping you find what you're looking for.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy April 15th (or maybe not)

I'd like to wish everyone a happy Tax Day. Did you know the Internal Revenue Service’s online forms and instructions database has 1,132 files? It might take you as long to find the appropriate paperwork as it does to prepare your return. Things weren’t so complicated back in the day. The United States Congress passed the 16th amendment in July of 1909. It wasn’t until February of 1913 that it was ratified by the necessary three-quarters majority of states needed to amend the Constitution. In the first year of the levy, less than one percent of the population paid income tax, due to generous exemptions and deductions. Those who paid the tax did so at the rate of just one percent of their net income. You can find that information and more at Our Documents, a digital library compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration. That site provides visitors with digital access to 100 milestone documents in United States history. Those instruments span the centuries, beginning with the Lee Resolution of 1776 (a proposal introduced to the Second Continental Congress calling for independence for the colonies) to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (legislation outlawing the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states following the Civil War). In addition to providing electronic access to those materials, Our Documents also provides background information to help students place those documents in historical context. The site also provides resources for educators and librarians. The image at right shows the original 1040 form, distributed in 1913. It comes from the National Archives and Records Administration. Oh, and if you’re reading this and realize that you’ve forgotten to file your tax return, you might want to check out Form 4868, , the Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Income Tax Return.

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