Digital Libraries

Digital Library Collections at The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library's Digital Shomburg Images of African Americans from the 19th Century are composed of carefully selected images by "a photographer noted for her interest in African American folkloric traditions" to "complement and supplement" the Shomberg's full text electronic databases of writings by people of African descent.  Marilyn Nance's essay "Searching the Past for an Understanding of the Present" is worth reading and discussing in this context.
American Memory Collections at the Library of Congress
The American Memory Historical Collections, part of the Library's National Digital Library Program (NDLP), are multimedia collections of "unique Americana that will be of greatest value to students, researchers, and educators."  Selection is "based on cultural and educational value, expected demand, input from the NDLP Advisory Committee, and the ability of current technology to capture the content."   The following special collections are represented in the digital images used for these activities:
  1. The American Variety Stage:Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920 draws from various Library of Congress holdings to form a multimedia anthology of popular entertainment, especially vaudeville, and contains a special selection of materials documenting the life and career of Harry Houdini.
  2. The Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920: Photographs from the Fred Hultstrand and F.A. Pazandak Photograph Collections, from the Institute for Regional Studies at North Dakota State University, focuses on settling, farming, and the material culture of rural and small towns at the turn-of-the-century.
  3. The South Texas Border: Photographs from the Robert Runyon Photograph Collection represents the life's work of a commercial photographer and documents the Lower Rio Grande Valley during the early 1900s.
  4. Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs 1851-1991 provides wide views of cities, landscapes, and group portraits throughout the United States particularly at the beginning of the 20th century when the panoramic photo format was especially popular. 
  5. Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1980-1920 published photographs in the form of postcards, prints, and albums for sale to the American market.
California Heritage Collection at the University of California, Berkeley
The California Heritage Collection, part of the Online Archive of California (an online union database of finding aids to archival collections), selects images illustrating the "rich themes" of California's history and culture from the collections of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.  A list of collections can be browsed.  The particular collections used for these activities are:
  1. Photographs of Agricultural Laborers in California, ca. 1906-1911, taken as part of a 1908 U.S. Immigration Commission study conducted by a Stanford University professor to gather information on immigrant farm labor problems of the San Joaquin Valley. 
  2. San Francisco Chinese Community and Earthquake Damage, ca. 1906, photographs pre- and post-earthquake which were taken by a teacher or student at the Chinese Methodist Episcopal Mission, a girls' home in San Francisco's Chinatown.
Through our Parents' Eyes: Tucson's Diverse Community at the University of Arizona
Narrowly focused, personal collections like "The Descendants of Jos´┐Ż Ignacio Moraga: Commander of the Tucson Presidio," are part of Cuentos de Nuestros Padres: Tucson's Hispanic Community  which traces the history of Hispanic Americans in Tucson from various ethnic backgrounds "in a way that acknowledges our multi-cultural heritage."
The National Archives and Records Administration database
The mission of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), an independent Federal agency overseeing the management of all Federal records, is to make it easy for all citizens to access "the essential evidence that documents the rights of American citizens, the actions of Federal officials, and the national experience" regardless of the location (Washington, DC, the regional archives, and the Presidential libraries).   NARA houses photographs of Lewis Hine, an investigative reporter who documented child labor for the National Child Labor Committee.  In addition to a small portfolio and lesson, you can use NAIL to search for his work.

Teacher Resources

Using Primary Sources in Historical Inquiry

Advice for students on research strategies:

Other resources: