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Virtual Digital Collections

From libraries and museums to historical societies, it seems that everyone is digitized their collection for sharing on the Internet. Others are focusing on ways to preserve those materials that are already in a digital form.

The best digital archives do more than provide a collection of links to different resources on a topic; rather, a true archive houses all the materials on one Web server, helping ensure that materials referenced are well organized and available. (Mark Hofter, Online Digital Archives, Learning and Leading with Technology, 32(2), 2004)

Digital Collections

When viewing a digital reproduction, transcriptions, or other elements of a digital collection, ask questions about the original and the method of reproduction. Many website contain an About page that contains this information. Some examples include:

Primary Source Collections

American Memory from the Library of Congress quality
Collection of resources from American history.

Archives Canada
Virtual exhibits from Canada.

British Museum: Compass Collection quality
Features over 5000 objects from many periods. Be sure to check out the Children's Compass!

Library and Archives Canada
Resources and collections from Canada.

Library of Congress Exhibitions
Dozens of topics.

National Archives of UK
National archives of the United Kingdom.

National Library of Scotland Digital Libraryquality
Great resource with materials in many topics.

NARA: US National Archives
Best collection of US documents. Go to the Exhibit Hall for collections. Be sure to check the HHPRC projects.

Online Archive of California
The resources affiliated with Berkeley connects to over 120,000 images; 50,000 pages of documents, letters, and oral histories; and 8,000 guides to collections. Virtual collections include:

World History Sources
This guide provides online primary source archives.

Digital Libraries and Collections

America Votes from Duke University
An online exhibit of U.S. presidential campaign memorabilia including presidential elections in letters, sheet music, leaflets, buttons, bumper stickers, and even t-shirts.

American Centuries from Memorial Hall museum Online
Explore New England through historical artifacts and documents.

American Journeys: Eyewitness Accounts of Early American Exploration and Settlement
More than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration from 1000 to 1800s from the Wisconsin Historical Society. Be sure to check out the Images.

Explore artifacts, stamps, pictures, and more.

Avalon Project at Yale Law School
Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy.

BBC - History - Family History
Great resource on family history and digital storytelling. Interesting sections include Bloodlines and Photos.

Cornell University

Connecticut History Online
Photographs, drawings, and prints about Connecticut history.

Digital History from University of Houston
Many primary sources including documents, references, exhibits, multimedia, and timelines.

Documents from the Women's Liberation Movement from Duke University
An on-line collection featuring transcribed texts and scanned images of over 40 articles, pamphlets, flyers, and booklets published from 1969 to 1974 which reflect the diversity of theory and activities characterizing the early years of the U.S. Women's Liberation Movement.

Documenting the American South from UNC University Library
Primary sources for southern history, literature and culture.

Einstein Archives Online
Manuscripts, diaries, and databases.

Florida Memory Project from the Florida State Archives
Thousands of photographs and resources.

Free Library of Philadelphia Digital Library
Digital Collections include: United States Centennial Exhibition, Central Library's 75th Anniversary, and Historical Images of Philadelphia.

Heritage Images Online from Auckland City New Zealand
Explore photographs from New Zealand.

Heinz History Center
Pennsylvania's largest history museum.

Home Economics Archive from Cornell University
Explore a core electronic collection of books and journals in Home Economics and related disciplines between 1850 and 1950.

Indiana's Storyteller from Indian Historical Society
Wonderful online digital collection containing 17,000 digital images.

Indiana University Digital Library Program
Many collections including Commons, Hoagy Carmichael, Nuer Field Notes, Swinburne Project, Victorian Women Writers, Wright American Piction, and others.

Kentuckiana Digital Library
Explore archives, electronic texts, timeline, and oral histories.

Manuscripts of the American Civil War from Notre Dame
Letters, diaries, and records.

National Security Archive from George Washington University
Explore primary sources documents on national security topics such as Cuban Missile Crisis (i.e., documents, audio clips, photographs, chronology, analysis).

National Women's History Museum
Includes virtual exhibits on many topics.

Newseum - The Interactive Museum of News
Designed to help the public understand the news media.

New York Public Library Picture Collection
Includes 30,000 images mostly pre 1923. Also, go to the NYPL Digital Gallery.

New York Public Library Digital Library Collections
Includes many collections.

Ohio Memory: An Online Scrapbook of Ohio History
Explore 26,000 primary sources from 330 archives.

Our Roots from Canadian Digital Local Histories Site
Information on local histories from Canada.

Picture Australia
Images from Australia.

Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library from Duke University
Many online collections.

September 11 Digital Archive
Archive includes photographs, moving images, audio, and documents.

Library and Archival Exhibitions on the web.

Trials of Hope: Overland Diaries and Letters, 1846-1869 from BYU
The collection contains original writings of 49 voyagers on the Mormon, California, Oregon, and Montana trails who wrote while traveling on the trail.

UNESCO/IFLA Directory of Digitized Collections
A directory to many digital collections.

United States Holocaust Museum
Great animated stories with primary documents.

University of California, Berkeley
Holdings include many digital collections from Bancroft Library and Berkeley Digital Library SunSITE:

University of Virginia
Holdings include digital collections:

Virginia Center for Digital History
This resource includes many digital collections.

Wisconsin Historical Society
Many resources including Online Collections and Visual Materials.

University of Michigan Making of American
Digital library of primary sources in American social history form antebellum period through reconstruction.

University of Minnesota Electronic Text Research Center
Projects on Women's Travel Writing (1830-1930) and Early Modern French Women Writers.

University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections
Primary sources materials including photographs, document, and audio/video resources.

Yale University Manuscripts & Archives
The Manuscripts and Archives Digital Images Database (MADID) are great.

Personal Papers Collections

Helen Hunt Jackson
Letters, diaries, photographs, and other materials by novelist and Indian rights activist.

The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers from GWU
Examine the papers of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Digital Preservation

MINERVA from the Library of Congress
Stands for Mapping the INternet Electronic Resources Virtual Archive. It's purpose is to preserve the world’s cultural and intellectual output that is presently created in digital formats and does not exist in any physical form. The program collects and preserves these primary source materials.

Wayback Machine
A useful tool if you are tracing the development of websites.

Online Primary Source Collections

Authentic History Center
Primary sources from American popular culture including a diversity section, oral history project, and urban collection.

Digital Photography Collections

Photography Collection - Western History
Explore photographs of the west; check Children in the Photo Collection

US Fish and Wildlife Service Digital Library System - Images
Examine images from this agency.

Living History

Pioneer Living History Village
1800s village in Arizona.

Newspaper Collections

The Stars and Stripes
Newspaper from February 8, 1918 to June 13, 1919.

Text Collections

19th Century Schoolbooks
Explore full-text collections of many schoolbooks.

The Classic Text: Traditions and Interpretations
Galleries including Bible, Homer, Artistophanes, Vigil, Ovid, Saint Augustine, Dante, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Cooper, Hawthorne, Stowe, Joyce, and more.

Links to Collections

Digital Librarian: Electronic Texts and Primary Sources
Links to many resources.

Internet Sourcebooks from Fordham

Links to military resources.

World Art Treasures
Many works of art.

Learn More

Hofer, Mark (October 2004). Online Digital Archives. Learning and Leading with Technology, (32)2, 6-11.

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