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HIS 217: Digital History

January 2010
These resources are intended to demonstrate a variety of useful tools for historians looking for reusable resources or simply interested in what other historians have done to create digital projects. The slides presented in class can be found online.

Table of Contents:

Digital Projects of Note

Some of these are free on the Web, some are by subscription and limited to the Gustavus community.

  • American Memory
    A database containing full text documents, spoken word and sound recordings, still and moving images, maps, and sheet music as a digital record of American history and creativity. From the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions.
  • Early English Books Online
    Early English Books Online (EEBO) contains digital facsimile page images of nearly 100,000 books in English printed between 1473 and 1700 - virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America, plus works in English printed elsewhere. Texts range from the first book printed in English by William Caxton through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare and the tumult of the English Civil War. Included are works by Malory, Bacon, More, Erasmus, Boyle, Newton, Galileo; musical exercises by Henry Purcell; novels by Aphra Behn; prayer books, pamphlets, and proclamations; almanacs, calendars, and many other primary sources. GUSTAVUS ACCESS ONLY.
  • Google Books
    Google is in the midst of an ambitious project to digitize books from publishers and in libraries. Those that were published before 1923 are in full text; those still potentially under copyright can be searched, but not viewed in full. It offers an interesting way to locate very specific words, phrases, and citations, particularly in older books. Using the advanced search you can limit a search to books that are full text or published within a range of years.
  • Hathi Trust Digital Library
    This site from a coalition of libraries includes searchable content of books scanned from libraries for Google Book Search as well as unique digital materials from contributing libraries.
  • Internet Archive
    A non-profit vast compilation of books, films, and other materials in the public domain or without all rights reserved freely available for use. Included is the "Wayback Machine," a searchable archive of webpages from the past.
  • Minneapolis Tribune Historical (1867-1922)
    New for 2009-2010 Search issues of the Minneapolis Tribune from 1867-1922. Access is provided to state residents through libraries by the Electronic Library of Minnesota (ELM).
  • New York Times Historical (1851-4 years ago)
    The full text of the New York Times from 1851 to 2005 - covering the entire publishing history of the newspaper back to the first issue. The newspaper text is fully indexed and searchable and the database also contains full-page images, including graphics. GUSTAVUS ACCESS ONLY.
    1851-4 years ago
  • Open Content Alliance
    A project to digitize books and other materials for open access through the Internet Archive.
More Projects
  • Aberdeen Bestiary
    A bestiary manuscript created in England around A.D. 1200. It's easy to search by an animal and find high-quality images from this illuminated manuscript.
  • Historical Maps
    From the University of Texas Perry-Castaneda library Map Collection, maps organized by region.
  • In the First Person
    Indexes over 3,000 collections of personal narratives from around the world, sometimes linking to free full texts available on the Internet. Search by subject, historical event, locations, or words used in the text.
  • Memory Hole
    "Rescuing knowledge, freeing information" is the motto of this site that posts material obtained through Freedom of Information Requests or pulled off government websites.
  • National Security Archive
    From George Washington University, this is the Website of a project that has collected the world's largest non-governmental archive of declassified documents, many of them covering controversial issues and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Though many documents are not accessible through the Web site, there are large collections of papers called briefing books on a variety of foreign affairs topics. This site is a rich set of primary source documents on key international issues.
  • Valley of the Shadow
    An outstanding collection of primary sources from two communities in Virginia and Pennsylvania, from 1859 through the Reconstruction. A fascinating use of the Internet for historical research.
And Just Because . . .

Lest you think digital archives are all serious historical endeavors, you might want to consider Awkward Family Photos and Awful Library Books.

Sources for Copyright Friendly Images

Often you may want to use images for a blog post or on a Web page. Most of the images on the Internet are copyrighted, but these are either in the public domain or are licensed with a Creative Commons license - "some rights reserved" but not all.

  • Art Images for College Teaching
    Images of ancient, medieval, and Renaissance European art and architecture, all photographed on location by the author for non-commercial, educational use. Some post-Renaissance and "non-Western" works are also included, but copyright restrictions prevent the inclusion of most 20th and 21st century works.
  • CDRI: Digital Resources for the Study of Religion
    From the American Theological Library Association and Association of Theological Schools, the Cooperative Digital Resource Initiative (CDRI) provides access to a large set of high-quality digital resources for the study of religion. This impressive digital image collection features items as diverse as woodcuts, coins, maps, postcards, sermons, and other ephemera. Search for keywords, or browse the collections thematically.
  • Flickr: Creative Commons
    User-uploaded images in Flickr that are available under a Creative Commons license for general use.
  • Flickr: The Commons
    This section of the popular photo-sharing site is populated with images from libraries and museums that have no known copyright restrictions. It's a great resource for historical images.
  • Life Photo Archive Hosted by Google
    This archive includes millions of photos from the Life Magazine archives, including many that were never published in the magazine. Though it is not clearly stated on the site, a Google official in an interview indicated that it was permissible to reuse thumbnail photos. Photos with better resolution may be purchased through the site.
  • WorldImages
    California State University IMAGE Project
    WorldImages contains over 50,000 images, is global in coverage and includes all areas of visual imagery. Its images may be freely used for non-profit educational purposes. Use a variety of search techniques, or browse some 500 portfolios organized into subject groupings. (Description from home page.)

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