More and more historical collections are getting digitized and made accessible through just a few clicks for people all over the world. Which is cool as fuck! We thought we’d list a few digital libraries and collections right here to get you started on your journey. These include digitized manuscripts and books, historical pictures, and video archives. Happy clicking!
American Experience: a video archive of episodes of the PBS history series, focused – as the title suggests – on American History.
British Library manuscripts: digitized manuscripts and documents of the incredibly thematically broad collection of the British Library, containing subcategories such as Greek manuscripts, Royal illuminated manuscripts, Hebrew manuscripts, US Civil War materials and Medieval manuscripts.
British Library photos: the Flickr page of the British Library! Scanned images and illustrations of the library collection, grouped in little albums according to the theme. This one is very fun to browse when bored.
British Library Newspapers: a collection of British and overseas newspapers dating back to the 1600s.
de Grummond Children’s Books Digital Collection: a selection of books from the holdings of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection in McCain Library & Archives. The majority of works featured in this collection date between 1731 – 1920 and have cute illustrations.
Digital Collections: On the more mundane and probably less useful side of history, this page has links to strange and wonderful things people have chosen to collect, from messages in the matrices of vinyl records to fake parking tickets to 1990s rave flyers.
Fanzine Faves: an online cover gallery of American punk fanzines, along with basic background information, run by Ryan Richardson.
Getty: a search tool that combines digital collections from the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, and the Getty Research Institute.
Library Of Congress: the digital collection of the largest library in the world, with a focus on American History, but you’ll find all kinds of things here.
Medieval Women’s Latin Letters: a collection of letters to and from women in the Middle Ages, from the 4th to the 13th century. You’ll get the original Latin text and an English translation. Started out as the one-woman endeavor of Professor Joan Ferrante of Columbia University and has since then grown into a cooperative project.
National Archives Catalog: catalog of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of the United States. Keeps US government records dating back to 1775!
Rijksmuseum: high quality images of the Rijksmuseum’s entire collection, mostly art.
Royal Belgian Library: the digital collection of the treasury of the Royal Belgian Library in Brussels. Very impressive, but keep in mind that a lot of material is in French or Dutch.
Smithsonian: the digital library of The Smithsonian Institution, containing books, articles, images and digitized documents.
Vatican Library: a digitization of 80,000 medieval en humanistic manuscripts from the collection of the Vatican Library.
World Digital Library: a project of the U.S. Library of Congress and UNESCO that makes a ton of international and multilingual historical content available from institutions worldwide.