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Searching for Digital Collections Online: Freely Available Websites
Many libraries and organizations are making digital materials available online.
To find these collections, use this search string in Google or another search engine, in addition to keywords relevant to your topic, for example:
digital collection library site:.edu slavery atlantic
You can also try the same search limiting to site:org rather than site:edu BUT:
EDU = educational institution
ORG = organization, which can mean almost ANY kind of noncorporate organization. If you aren't familiar with the organization, do some research on it! Who are they? What do they promote? Are they reliable?
In this era of "fake news," don't just trust the information you see on a website's "About Us" tab or page.
Google the organization and learn more about them
from other sources.
* * *
Questions to ask when you are assessing freely available online primary-source collections:
- Who is the author or creator of the page/site? Is there an institution involved? What is the name of the institution?
- What are the credentials of the author or institution (what qualifies the author or institution to present these sources objectively? Do they represent a university? A library? An individual?)
- Who sponsors the site? Is there information about funding?
Use Google and other sources to research the authors, organizations, or institutions responsible for the page and for its funding. Don't just trust the About page!
- What is the purpose of the site - To inform? To entertain?, To sell you something? To argue for a certain point of view?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Are the sources cited? Where did the author(s) get the information?
- Can the information on the page be verified with other sources?
- How current is the information? How recently has the website been updated?**
(**This question may be less important for historians looking for historical primary sources.
For more information about evaluating websites, see the Evaluating Information tab, above.
Digitized Primary-Source Book Collections
Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639 - 1800
Digitized from Charles Evans' renowned "American Bibliography" and Roger Bristol's supplement, this resource contains almost every book, pamphlet, and broadside published in America over a 160-year period. NOTE: Patrons must login with CampusID and password both on and off campus.
Early English Books Online (EEBO)
Contains titles written between 1473 and 1700 printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and British North America. Includes primary sources such as almanacs, pamphlets, musical scores, and prayer books.
Eighteenth Century Collections Online
This resource is compiled from Gale's The Eighteenth Century microfilm collection and the English Short Title Catalogue, providing an online library of 18th century titles printed in the United Kingdom.
Curious about the Text Creation Partnership and its projects? Learn more here!
Books Available Online
These online collections include digital versions of many out-of-copyright works including government documents, historical magazines and other periodicals, and books published before 1923. Coverage can be spotty, but these sites are worth searching... just in case.
HathiTrust makes accessible a vast collection of works from an international community of research libraries. The collection includes more than 16 million volumes, nearly 6 million of which are in the public domain. GSU users get access to the largest number of volumes and features by logging in with their institutional credentials, including the ability to download PDFs of public domain works, and works made available under Creative Commons licenses. NOTE: Click yellow LOG IN button, choose Georgia State University and log in with CampusID and password.
Full-text collection includes books in the public domain. Includes only snippets of books still under copyright unless otherwise specified by author or publisher. Also includes magazines and periodicals.
Digital library, includes texts as well as moving images, live music, audio.
Digital copies of books whose copyrights have expired.
Center for Research Libraries Digital Collections
Wide-ranging collection of digitized resources. Search the CRL's catalog, or browse the collection.
Looking for Resources on a Particular State?
Many state-based libraries and organizations are digitizing materials relating to the their state.
The Library of Congress has assembled this list of state digital libraries. Search by state, or check out the Multi-State options.
Digital Collections at GSU
These are GSU subscription resources requiring a GSU Campus ID and password for off-campus access.
For a full list of our subscription databases (including primary-source digital collections) see our Databases A-Z list.
For historical periodical databases, see the Historical Periodicals tab.
For historical newspaper databases, see the Historical Newspapers tab/guide.
American History in Video
A collection of video available for the study of American history, with 2,000 hours and more than 5,000 titles on completion. The collection allows students and researchers to analyze historical events, and their presentation over time, through commercial and governmental newsreels, archival footage, public affairs footage, and important documentaries.
Annals of American History
Provides a year-by-year documentary of American thought and action. Contains original documents of more than 1,500 authors who made and analyzed American history from 1493 to the present through their speeches, writings, memoirs, poems, and interviews.
Presents topically-focused digital collections of historical documents. GSU's records of the National Domestic Workers Union (NDWU) and selected portions of the United Garment Workers of America records have been digitized by Gale/Cengage Learning and made available to the Georgia State University community, both on and off-campus. Note: Image viewer requires Adobe Flash Player 10.0 or above.
Black Thought and Culture
Studies the historical development of black culture by covering the non-fiction published works of leading African Americans.
British History Online
ATLANTA CAMPUS ONLY. Contains primary and secondary sources ranging from the medieval period to the twentieth century. Content includes maps, journals, letters, diaries, covering medieval and modern history of the British Isles.
Burney Collection Newspapers, 17th - 18th Century
Gathered by Reverend Charles Burney, this collection is comprised of predominantly 17th and 18th century London Newspapers. Titles range from 1603 to the 1800s.
Digital Sanborn Maps, 1867 - 1970
Provides maps charting the growth and development of American towns and cities. The maps are large-scale plans of cities and town to estimate the risk for urban structures, listing street blocks, building information, and property boundaries.
An interactive collection of primary source documents for the study of "Empire" and its theories, practices, and consequences, covering the last five centuries. Features essays, maps, and an interactive chronology.
Gerritsen Collection of Aletta H. Jacobs
A cross-cultural resource for the study of women's history, its coverage spanning 1543 - 1945 from continental Europe, the US, the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand. Consists of two segments: The Periodical Series and the Monograph Language Series (comprised of monographs and pamphlets tracing suffragism, women's issues, and the history of organized movements).
Offers four major library collections: the Law Journal Library, the Federal Register Library, the Treaties and Agreements Library, and the U.S. Supreme Court Library. Note: Access is provided by the Georgia State University College of Law Library.
History Vault: Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century
Consists of primary source materials from ProQuest's University Publications of America (UPA) Collection. Black Freedom Struggle I consists of 37 collections of records from federal government agencies, and Black Freedom Struggle II consists of 36 personal papers and organizational records collections.
Provides U.S. public opinion poll data through a full-text retrieval system organized at the question level. Note: GSU users can access the download data sets, many of which are available in SPSS format.
iPoll is now Roper iPoll. You must create a new account in order to access the new Roper iPoll.
Making of Modern Law
A comprehensive full text collection of Anglo-American legal treatises, providing digital images of thousands of legal treatises on US and British law published between 1800 and 1926. It includes casebooks, local practice manuals, form books, works for lay readers, pamphlets, letters, and speeches. Note: Access is provided by the Georgia State University College of Law Library.
Rock and Roll, Counterculture, Peace and Protest: Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950 - 1975
Focusing on substantial collections of original archival material, Popular Culture explores the dynamic period of social, political and cultural change between 1950 and 1975. This resource offers thousands of color images of manuscript and rare printed material as well as photographs, ephemera and memorabilia from this exciting period in our recent history.
Note: If accessing from off-campus, you must enter "Georgia State University" under "Find your institution" to be brought to our login page.
Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice
A portal for slavery studies offering primary source documents and secondary sources (an interactive map, scholarly essays, tutorials, a visual sources gallery, chronology, and bibliography) allowing for exploration and comparison of material related to slavery, abolition, and social justice.
U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832 - 1978
A fully searchable online collection of records and briefs, including transcripts, applications for review, motions, petitions, supplements, and other official papers of cases. Note: Access is provided by the Georgia State University College of Law Library.
Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600 - 2000
A resource for US and US women's history, specifically organized around the history of women in social movements in the US from 1600 - 2000. Contains document projects, archives of full-text documents, teaching tools, and book/film/website reviews.
Selected Web collections: US History
Umbra Search: African American History (NEW!)
New online portal of African-American history sources, including more than 400,000 digitized materials from over 1,000 libraries and archives across the US.
Digital Public Library of America
Searchable portal for digital US-history primary sources from a wide range of US institutions.
Library of Congress Digital Collections
Starting page for digital collections at the Library of Congress' website.
gateway to digitized primary (and secondary) source collections related to US history
Digital Library of Georgia
gateway to Georgia's history and culture found in digitized books, manuscripts, photographs, government documents, newspapers, maps, audio, video, and other resources.
Documenting the American South
University of North Carolina digital publishing initiative that provides access to texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture, primarily from UNC's large collection.
Chronicling America: Historical American Papers
from the Library of Congress (selected papers covering 1789-1943)
New-York Historical Society: Manuscript Collections Relating to Slavery
Digital collection of diaries, account books, letter books, ships’ logs, indentures, bills of sale, personal papers, and records of institutions, relating to slavery and abolition.
US and Canadian history
Selected Web Collections: World History
Africa South of the Sahara
Selected internet resources on Africa. Searchable by country and region.
Contemporary and historical sources for Latin America.
World Digital Library
Searchable by continent, nation, and region.
Global Terrorism Database
Information on terrorist events around the world from 1970 through 2007. Includes systematic data on domestic as well as transnational and international terrorist incidents.
Public Records Office (London): Online Catalogue
Documents from central government, courts of law and other UK national bodies, including records on family history, medieval tax, criminal trials, UFO sightings, the history of many countries and many other subjects.
Old Bailey Online
Searchable records for London's central criminal court. Coverage from 1674-1913.
The Acts and Monuments Online (TAMO)
Unabridged texts of the four editions of this massive work published in John Foxe’s lifetime (1563, 1570, 1576, 1583).
European History Primary Sources
From the European University Institute.
Sources for European History; selected transcriptions, facsimiles and translations
German History in Documents and Images (GHDI)
Primary source materials documenting Germany's political, social, and cultural history from 1500 to the present. Includes original German texts, accompanied by new English translations, and a wide range of visual imagery.
French Revolution Digital Archive
Collaboration between the Stanford University Libraries and the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). Digital version of the key research sources of the French Revolution.
Digital resources from Europe's museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections.