20 Amazing Digital Archives You Can Use for Research

COD gives online students access to an amazing amount of digital resources, but if you’re looking for something more, the Internet will not disappoint. There are dozens of amazing digital archives out there that you can browse, download from, and share, many from highly respected institutions with access to some of the rarest, best, and most extensive collections anywhere in the world.

Here are a few you can’t miss if you’re looking to find awe-inspiring historical photos, documents, books, and maps to flesh out your research or just want to spend an afternoon browsing through cool historical stuff.

New York Public Library Digital Collections

Prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, and videos make up the more than 673,875 items that are currently digitized through the New York Public Library. You can search for specific terms, or browse through everything from old menus to set and costume design sketches.

The Living New Deal

Studying the 1930s? Make sure to check out this amazing collection of books, articles, films, photos, videos, and other documents all related to the New Deal, allowing you to gain a better understanding of how it worked and affected Americans, often through firsthand accounts.

UCLA Library Digital Collections

The UCLA Library has an incredible and eclectic collection of digitized resources in their online archive. Page through medieval Armenian manuscripts, explore early American popular music, learn more about the life of author Aldous Huxley, or dive into one of the nearly 100 other collections showcased there.

Duke University Libraries Digital Collections

Among the most popular of Duke’s digital resources are collections of early American advertising and popular sheet music, but there are thousands of other photographs, ads, texts, and more that can be accessed through this expansive and unique digital archive.

Harvard Library Digital Collections

Harvard has the largest privately held library collection in the U.S., and while you may not be able to access it as a student would, the elite college has made some of its materials available in a digital format. Among the standouts of this collection are a medieval Book of Hours, nearly 1,000 early scientific drawings of American fauna, Chinese rubbings, the Emily Dickinson Archive and a huge assortment of maps.

British Museum

Home to some of the most well-known art and artifacts in the world, it should come as no surprise that the British Museum would have an equally amazing online collection of resources to offer as well. Search the collection to find images and information about more than 3,500,000 items in the museum’s collection—a great way to do research for any course in art history or history.

The British Library Digital Collections

Books, periodicals, newspapers, maps, paintings, sheet music, stamps, and audio and video recordings make up some of this digital archive, one of the largest in the world. Explore it on your own, or use one their digital scholarship or collection guides to help you better understand how to search and what you’re seeing.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is home to more than 29 million volumes, countless archives, and a wide range of other media. Some of their amazing collection can be accessed online through their digital archives, including historical photos, copies of speeches, sheet music, and other material available nowhere else.

Digital Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library isn’t a collection in itself, but a portal through which researchers like yourself can find the best resources available at dozens of libraries and museums around the country. It’s a great place to start if you want to look through several archives at once to see what’s out there.

Columbia University Digital Collections

The Human Rights Web Archive and The Digital Scriptorium are just two of the incredible online resources you can find through Columbia’s prestigious library. There are 24 collections in all, as well as a ever-changing assortment of online exhibitions.

Oxford Digital Library

If you’re interested in classical antiquity or medieval studies, you’ll definitely want to check out the digital collections offered by Oxford. You’ll find everything from an Athenian pottery database to a priceless collection of illuminated manuscripts dating as far back as the 11th century.

Princeton Digital Initiatives

Princeton offers a wide range of digital research options, including the Digital Library, the Blue Mountain Project, Papers of Princeton, and thousands of digitized historical periodicals. Highlights include Block Prints of the 1911 Revolution in China, a collection of memorabilia from George Frederic Handel, and numerous Mesoamerican manuscripts.

Smithsonian Digital Library

You don’t have to visit the Smithsonian to get a good look at the amazing historical artifacts it holds. Instead, search through tens of thousands of digitized books, photos, drawings, ephemera, and online exhibitions.

Digital Collections @ Stanford

Stanford’s online resources are incredibly diverse, making them uniquely poised to serve a wide range of student research interests. There’s a whole database just on copyright renewal records, an online bookshelf loaded with dime novels, and a special collection of feminist art.

Tate Gallery

Need an image? You’ll likely be able to find it through the Tate Gallery–nearly every work the museum holds has a digitized version in their archive. Search by artist or work, or browse by subject matter, including highlights of the Tate collection and works from WWI.

Internet Archive

This non-profit online library collects millions of free books, movies, software, music and more. Even better, it is home to archived versions of millions of websites, allowing you to explore the more recent past in the digital realm.

UW-Madison Digital Collections

This library has a pretty impressive digital archive, including photos, documents, and information on topics like African studies, art books, anthropology, Classics, gender and women’s studies, ecology and natural resources, and much more. It’s easy to navigate and will even help you find other material that may be related to items you’ve searched for.

McGill University Digital Exhibitions and Collections

Access more than 70 digital projects covering a wide array of subjects including, art, architecture, history and literature, engineering, medicine, maps, music, and urban design through this Canadian university’s great online collection.

Texas A&M University Library Digital

With a huge (hundreds of thousands) collection of digitized photographs and unique assets like a bibliography of Science Fiction and Fantasy, this school’s archive is a can’t miss for history buffs.

David Rumsey Map Collection

This collection is a map lover’s dream, with more than 66,000 maps and related images archived there. Many are rare or usual and can be a great tool for studying history, art, and even science.

Whatever you decide to use, make sure you’re citing it right for MLA, Chicago, or APA style!