History Research Guide
The collections of unique materials in archives and other repositories can be critical to historical research. Some of this material is now being digitized to allow users access to materials without traveling to visit the repository. Keep in mind that these digital collections usually include only a small part of a collection's entire holdings. Repositories usually select materials for digitization that are likely to be of wide interest to historians and the general public.
If you know the name of the institution that collects material in your subject area, search for them online to see what they can offer. Listed below are just a few well-established examples of digital collections that have proven highly useful for historical research.
The Library of Congress is seeking to digitize many of it's unique American
history holdings, and making them available through this website. Included are
printed materials, manuscripts, sheet music, maps, photos and prints, motion
pictures, and sound recordings.
DigitalNC: North Carolina's Digital Heritage
Statewide digitization and digital publishing program housed in the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Documenting the American South
Digitized collections from the Univesity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Includes
the following collections:
- First-Person Narratives of the American South
- Library of Southern Literature
- North American Slave Narratives
- The Southern Homefront, 1861-1865
- The Church in the Southern Black Community
- The North Carolina Experience, Beginnings to 1940
- North Carolinians and the Great War
Slavery: A Composite Autobiography
A collection of the life histories of former slaves in the United
States compiled through nearly 4,000 interviews with ex-slaves.
Contains the collection of over 2,000 interviews conducted in
seventeen states between 1936 and 1938 under the Federal Writers'
Project of the Work Progress Administration, as published in 1972
in The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography edited by George
Duke University Rare
Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library
Duke Library has digitized a number of collections of original
materials, proving access to fascinating collections of rare materials.
Included are Ad*Access
(An image database of over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S.
and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955, and
covering five categories - Beauty and Hygiene, Radio, Television,
Transportation, and World War II) and Medicine
and Madison Avenue (images of health advertisements and supplemetary
History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web
This site serves as a gateway to web resources and offers unique
teaching materials, first-person primary documents, and guides
to analyzing historical evidence.
New York Public Library Digital Gallery
NYPL Digital Gallery provides access to over 550,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the collections of The New York Public Library, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more.
American Women's Letters and Diaries
Letters and diaries depicting the personal experiences of hundreds of women.
Contains materials from Colonial times to 1950. Allows browsing by place, by
year, and by event.
Making of America
(University of Michigan)
Making of America (Cornell
Digital library of primary sources in American social history
from the antebellum period through reconstruction. Univesity of
Michigan and Cornell Univeristy have both contributed to this
The Martha Ballard Case Study:
A Midwife's Tale
Based on a case of a tragic assassination of character in an 18th
century New England town, this interactive site seeks to teach
students how historians must piece fragmentray evidence together
to reconstruct past events. It has them browse diaries, newspapers,
and town records to decide for themselves what happened and with
what justification. (description from www.merlot.org,
a website evaluation tool).
The Valley of the Shadow
Digital archive of primary sources that document the lives of people in Augusta
County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, during the era of the American
Civil War. Here you may explore thousands of original documents that allow you
to see what life was like during the Civil War for the men and women of Augusta
Thomas Jefferson Digital Archive
This collection of Jefferson materials complement the collection
of offical papers at the Library of Congress. It includes letters,
architectural drawings, and other materials collected at the University
The Perseus Digital Library
Large collection of electronic text and visual materials focusing
on ancient Greece and Rome. Includes classical texts, secondary
materials, maps, and archeological information.
Modern History Sourcebook
The Labyrinth: Resources for Medieval
Gateway to information form medieval studies on the web.
Collection of electronic texts from Martin Luther, as well as
other early Lutheran writings. Texts in the original language
and in translation are available.
World History Sources
Reviews primary resource websites, focusing on those that are appropriate for classroom use.
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