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This guide focuses on resources for researching United States history from the colonial period to the present.
"The Internet Archive is working to prevent the Internet - a new medium with major historical significance - and other "born-digital" materials from disappearing into the past. Collaborating with institutions including the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian, we are working to preserve a record for generations to come."
"Many documents at the National Archives illustrate how individuals and groups asserted their rights as Americans. Use this site to explore the topics of slavery, racism, citizenship, women’s independence, immigration, and more."
This list contains over 250 libraries and archives that focus mainly on localized, regional, and U.S. history, but it also includes larger collections, eText and eBook repositories, and a short list of directories to help you continue your research efforts.
The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.
The struggle for racial equality in the 1950s and 1960s is among the most far-reaching social movements in the nation's history, and it represents a crucial step in the evolution of American democracy. The Civil Rights Digital Library promotes an enhanced understanding of the Movement by helping users discover primary sources and other educational materials from libraries, archives, museums, public broadcasters, and others on a national scale. The CRDL features a collection of unedited news film from the WSB (Atlanta) and WALB (Albany, Ga.) television archives held by the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia Libraries. The CRDL provides educator resources and contextual materials, including Freedom on Film, relating instructive stories and discussion questions from the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia, and the New Georgia Encyclopedia, delivering engaging online articles and multimedia.
The Library of Congress American Memory project, Primary Sources by State, State Resource Guides, and other digital initiatives provide free access through the Internet to the treasures of the Library’s collections that document America’s history, culture, and creativity. Across the country, the archives, cultural institutions, museums, and libraries of many states are collaborating to create similar projects. They provide unprecedented access to materials that document local and regional growth and development as well as a look at the cultures and traditions that have made individual states and communities unique. The following is a compilation of state and regional digital projects and collaborations identified thus far. For each project, the primary institution or institutions overseeing the project are noted. The list will expand as new projects become available.
The vision of a national digital library has been circulating among librarians, scholars, educators, and private industry representatives since the early 1990s. Efforts led by a range of organizations, including the Library of Congress, HathiTrust, and the Internet Archive, have successfully built resources that provide books, images, historic records, and audiovisual materials to anyone with Internet access. Many universities, public libraries, and other public-spirited organizations have digitized materials, but these digital collections often exist in silos. The DPLA brings these different viewpoints, experiences, and collections together in a single platform and portal, providing open and coherent access to our society’s digitized cultural heritage.
This database provides access to digital collections of primary sources (photos, letters, diaries, artifacts, etc.) that document the history of women in the United States. These diverse collections range from Ancestral Pueblo pottery to interviews with women engineers from the 1970s.
Documenting the American South (DocSouth) is a digital publishing initiative that provides Internet access to texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture. Currently DocSouth includes sixteen thematic collections of books, diaries, posters, artifacts, letters, oral history interviews, and songs. The University Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sponsors Documenting the American South, and the texts and materials come primarily from its southern holdings. The UNC University Library is committed to the long-term availability of these collections and their online records. An editorial board guides development of this digital library.
The Early Americas Digital Archive (EADA) is a collection of electronic texts and links to texts originally written in or about the Americas from 1492 to approximately 1820. Open to the public for research and teaching purposes, EADA is published and supported by the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) under the general editorship of Professor Ralph Bauer, at the University of Maryland at College Park. Intended as a long-term and inter-disciplinary project in progress committed to exploring the intersections between traditional humanities research and digital technologies, it invites scholars from all disciplines to submit their editions of early American texts for publication on this site.
Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930, is a web-based collection of historical materials from Harvard's libraries, archives, and museums that documents voluntary immigration to the United States from the signing of the Constitution to the onset of the Great Depression. Concentrating heavily on the 19th century, Immigration to the US includes over 400,000 pages from more than 2,200 books, pamphlets, and serials, over 9,600 pages from manuscript and archival collections, and more than 7,800 photographs. By incorporating diaries, biographies, and other writings capturing diverse experiences, the collected material provides a window into the lives of ordinary immigrants.
In addition to thousands of items that are now accessible to any Internet user, the collection includes contextual information on voluntary immigration and quantitative data. The site offers additional links to related digital resources on immigration to the US.
American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity. These materials, from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America, serving the public as a resource for education and lifelong learning.
The Online Books Page is a website that facilitates access to books that are freely readable over the Internet. It also aims to encourage the development of such online books, for the benefit and edification of all. Major parts of the site include:
An index of over two million online books freely readable on the Internet Pointers to significant directories and archives of online texts Special exhibits of particularly interesting classes of online books Information on how readers can help support the growth of online books
Rotunda’s American Founding Era Collection is your gateway into one of the great conversations in history. These newly prepared digital editions of the papers of many of the major figures of the early republic are presented in a fully searchable and interoperable online environment.
Though it is a relatively recent field of study, women's history is inscribed across all of the Harvard Library holdings gathered since 1638. By examining those holdings afresh and querying them in a new and feminist light, the curators of Women Working have aggregated thousands of items that illuminate women's history. The result is a unique, virtual collection, comprising over 650,000 individual pages from more than 3,100 books and trade catalogs, 900 archives and manuscript items, and 1,400 photographs.
Women Working, 1800–1930 is a digital exploration of women's impact on the economic life of the United States between 1800 and the Great Depression. Working conditions, workplace regulations, home life, costs of living, commerce, recreation, health and hygiene, and social issues are among the issues documented in this online research collection from Harvard University.