Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Many libraries, museums, and archives have digitized their historic documents and put them online in digital libraries. Here are some large collections (and links to other large collections) you may want to explore.
This map, Map of Battles on Bull Run at Manassas, was created by the Office of the Chief of Engineers in the US War Department. The scanned image comes from the US National Archives via Flickr Commons. The US National Archives has an extensive collection of scanned historical documents and photographs on Flickr.
Finding Digital Collections
The web is filled with interesting primary source collections. But how do you find them? You can ask your professor and librarian. You can also try Google. Try searches that combine the term "digital library" with a geographic location or theme. You can also visit the library websites of universities and see if they feature any digital collections.
Primary Sources on the Web
Do you know of a great, online digital library we should add to this list? Please contact Joan Petit.
The photo on the right, Two 7 Year Old Newsies, circa 1910, is from the US National Archives on Flickr.
American Memory Project from the Library of Congress
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.
Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
Digitized historic American newspapers pages from 1836-1922.
United States Historical Maps
Digitized maps from the Perry-Castañeda Library
Map Collection at the University of Texas-Austin.
The Avalon Project : Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy
The Avalon Project mounts digital documents relevant to the fields of Law, History, Economics, Politics, Diplomacy and Government.
Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance & Abolition: Online Resources
The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, a part of the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale, is dedicated to the investigation and dissemination of knowledge concerning all aspects of chattel slavery and its destruction.
Documenting the American South
From the University of North Carolina, a digital collection of texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture.
New York Public Library Digital Gallery
Over 700,000 images digitized from the The New York Public Library's vast collections, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs and more.
Offers public domain photographs and other photographs from national and international libraries, museums, archives, and cultural institutions.
LIFE Magazine Photo Archive
Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.
Presents images and information for advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines from 1911 to 1955. Focuses on these subject areas: radio, television, transportation, beauty & hygiene, and World War II.