Collections by Country/Continent



Europeana is an Web portal that aims to link together more than 2,000 cultural institutions across Europe. Its “history” started as a political initiative in 2005, but by 2012 more than 25 million items were “collected” and all the metadata was released with a CC0 waiver. Initially the early launch of the site crashed due to traffic overload. When relaunched people complained because they expected high-quality content and not just pointers to catalogue references. Expectations were for a Google-like system providing fast, relevant, and high-quality content, and in many ways the early europeana site failed to deliver on the hype. However over time more and more content was introduced, digitisation programmes were started, archives were opened up to the public, rights were managed, an API was developed, open-source code was used to allow many other institutions to “buy-in”, and different types of revenue models were introduced. By 2010, 200 partners were brought together through 28 data aggregators, and 13 million objects were integrated through 21 different projects. Links between data sources were richer, controlled vocabularies were being used, and there was abundant content covering the 18th to 20th centuries.

Still europeana was “poor” when compared to Wikipedia or even a simple search on Google Image. The key trends at that time were for more user participation, more audio-visual material, a greater involvement with the schools system, and a greater focus on becoming a “trusted source”.

Today europeana has continued to grow by around 25% annually, and even more rapidly with both its mobile service “Culture on the Go” and its social media offerings (albeit from a very, very low starting point). Europeana is a kind of search-catalogue site and therefore whilst attracting around 2.0 to 2.5 million visits monthly, only about 500,000 of them are regular visitors (a return rate just over 20%). It is also true that most visitors only spend a limited time on europeana, often only one page view, but “click-throughs” to participating sites runs at a solid 100,000 to 200,000 monthly and the “virtual exhibitions” are proving successful. Short visits are usual for a “discovery” site and in particular when referral sites direct people to a specific “record” or object page and not the site homepage, but the virtual exhibitions are expected to change this in the future. Google Analytics, which does not track robots, registered nearly 4 million unique individual visitors to europeana in 2012 (up from 2.9 million in 2011), with nearly 22 million page views (up from 15 million in 2011).    

In addition there are quite a number of individual projects that sit under the europeana umbrella. Some projects have their own sites with a sample of the content, some have separate homes for virtual exhibitions, and others have simply sent their content to europeana. Some project sites are complete, up-to-date and a pleasure to visit, others leave much to be desired. 

EUscreen is about providing access to audio-visual archives, and in particular 40,000 items of programme content and information (found under the “explore” menu option). Examples range from the 10 minute inaugural address of Mary Robinson (the first woman president of Ireland), to a 54 minute documentary about Van Eyck (in Flemish). The continuation project EUscreenXL will add another 20,000 programmes, and provide europeana with 1 million metadata records pointing to assets held in Europe’s audio-visual archives.

The European Film Gateway to date provides access to 30 film archives with more than 660,000 items, including historic 51,000 film/videos. Everything from a “Day in the Home” of 1951, through “Harnessing the Hills” from 1949, to a Danish film about Bergen in Norway, dated 1916. There is also a related project EFG1914 providing access to 661 hours of film and more than 5,600 film-related documents about WW I.

Euro-Photo is collecting and making freely available 150,000 pictures from the archives of the major European news agencies. For example I searched on “Elton John” and it returned 63 “hits” with photographs, and a second search on “Luxembourg” produced more than 1,800 “hits” with photographs of the royal family, the French singer France Gall who won the Eurovision Song Contest for Luxembourg in the 1965 with the song “Poupée de cire, Poupée de son”, and the F1 Grand Prix of Luxembourg Nürburgring/Eifel.

Daguerreobase is a collective catalogue for daguerreotypes. So far they provide access and details about more than 1,000 examples, mostly anonymous portraits and family views dating back to 1839. 

Archives Portal Europe looks to provide access to archival material. To date “you can search across more than 58 million descriptive units linked to more than 125 million digital objects from 267 institutions”. A couple of examples are provided to demonstrate the type and quality of the content available, namely the Confederation of Warsaw dated 1573 and the Ådalen shootings in Sweden in 1931. This project was initiated as APEnet, and is now continuing with europeana as APEx, a network of excellence on archives.

BHL-Europe is about a biodiversity heritage library for europeana provided by 28 European natural history museums and botanical gardens. Results appear to include some examples of historic texts on birds, shells, and fish. Natural Europe is all about European natural history museums creating online educational pathways through their collections. Natural Europe has “cultural content” in the form of mineral, botany, zoology and rock collections, “educational pathways” for school groups and families, and “resources” on plants and animals. For example there is a “pathway” for urban trees to help children identify trees and their distinguishing characteristics. OpenUp! is a so-called “best-practice” network of natural history museums and botanical gardens. For example using “deciduous” from the previous example yielded 4 “hits” in their search function. The first was for the poisonous European Mistletoe that is a semi-parasite on both deciduous and coniferous trees. The second example was the California Funeral Bell or “death cap” that can be confused with a mushroom that grows on deciduous wood. The third example was the metallic green Blister Beetle that feeds of deciduous trees. The last example was also for the “death cap” mushroom.

Ambrosia is a new project focusing on Europe’s food and drink culture (the site still does not appear to be up and running). The expectation is that they will prepare and license 50,000-70,000 high-quality digital assets.   

The European Library has been described elsewhere, but its overall objective is to aggregate the content and services of Europe’s 48 national libraries. Within the context of europeana they delivered 1,200 film and video clips, 850,000 images and 4.3 million texts of different types, and included full-text indexing and extended search functionalities. I am not sure how the content is distributed across The European Library and the europeana libraries site, but it looks as if europeana ends up pointing back to The European Library (which is of course the true role of a search-catalogue site). During my visit to The European Library I could see the links to the historic newspaper prototype and the manuscripts virtual exhibition.

The Europeana Newspapers project plans to aggregate 18 million pages from historic newspapers and convert 10 million pages to full text. A prototype is hosted on The European Library.

Europeana Regia provides access to more than 1,000 rare manuscripts from the Middle Ages through to the Renaissance (8th C to 16th C). The Website provides 128 examples, and each example links to the full manuscript record. The project links to The European Library with its virtual exhibition of 34 manuscripts. There is also link to e-codices with its 1054 manuscripts from Swiss collections, and to the site Manuscripta Mediaevalia and its 75,000 documents.

The Eagle network is about ancient Greek and Latin epigraphy, and they plan to collect more than 1.5 million items about what most people call the Greco-Roman world. I’m not sure how far they have got, but my hopes are high.

Carare looked at 3D and virtual reality for archaeology and architecture heritage. On their site they list a number of 3D case studies, for example the castle of Bouvignes in Belgium. In addition they also point to 21 3D “documents” on the Pompeii Fortuna Visiva Website. Whilst promising much I find that these technologies fail to deliver the compelling experience that we are lead to expect.

European Collections 1914-1918 has the stamp of another The European Library effort. For the centenary of the 1914-1918 war more than 400,000 digitised items will be collected and made freely available, including trench journals, maps, propaganda material, medals, etc. More than 45,000 items have already been placed on europeana. In addition europeana itself is building Europeana 1914-1918 designed to collect unpublished letters, photographs and keepsakes. They also have digitise 90,000 items and add more that 7,000 stories. And the European Film Gateway has also a Website EFG1914 providing access to 661 hours of film and more than 5,600 film-related documents. Europeana 1914-1918 also has a search page which includes 60,000 items from New Zealand resources, 24,000 items from US sources, and nearly 110,000 items from Australian resources, all relating to WW I. To be complete on this topic I should also like to link to the International Encyclopedia of the First World War (they have an extensive list of WW I related Websites) and the CENDARI pages dedicated to WW I.  

thinkMOTION was a project to build a library of digital mechanisms and gears for europeana. Today it includes more than 35,000 documents and 45,000 images, nearly 6,000 biographies, a multilingual thesaurus, more than 3,000 mechanism descriptions and nearly 3,000 animations. For example you can find information about things such as the “Westfallen” supply steamboat. You can get through to a text in Spanish describing the “SS Westfalen” as a supply steamboat for supplying “interocánica” seaplanes operating between Germany and South America. In fact this ship, built in 1905, included the possibility to bring the seaplane onboard for refueling and servicing, and a compressed air catapult for launching it into the air. Many of the items catalogued are for more basic machines such as rotating couples, safety bindings, or slide-cranks.

Musical Instrument Museums Online (MEMO) provides a single access point to collections of musical instruments, including audio and video files. This includes nearly 60,000 instruments, with more than 50,000 images and more than 1,300 audio recordings. You can look up everything from lutes, through the darabukka drum, to Stradivari. For example 9 Stradivari are lists, ranging from a violoncello and viola of 1690 through to a violin from 1716, and including a guitare from ca. 1711. As with many of these types of project the main access point is actually europeana, and not the project database. 

Judaica Europeana brought together documents highlighting Jewish presence and heritage in Europe. They uploaded more than 3.7 million items to europeana, but the project site is still home to a number of virtual exhibitions, on topics such as the Rothschild Collection, Jewish Britain, and Jewish avant-garde artists from Romania. 

The Social History Portal, a product of the HOPE project, brings together more than 900,000 objects representing social history and the history of the labour movement from late 18th C through to the 21st C. There is a very cool timeline and map that provide a good way to navigate through the collection. For example the Bibliothéque de Documentation Internationale Contemporaine has provided an interesting photograph by Élie Kagan of the protests in Paris on the 13 May 1968, which acts as a link to their main collection for that period.

Europeana 1989 is all about collecting stories, pictures, film, etc. relating to the event of 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe. So far they have nearly 10,000 different contributions, but the ones I checked out were all quite “simple” and all pointed to a Website called Historypin, a place to keep memories and old stories.

EuropeanaTravel pulled together 4,000 maps, 16,000 images, and 20,000 texts on the themes of travel and tourism. The resultant virtual exhibition is now hosted on The European Library as Travelling Through History. For example the university and regional library of Tyrol contributed 251 postcards from the late 19th C to the early 20th C about city life in the region, such as one of the 3510 m Ortler and another of the Hotel Egger in Kufstein

EuropeanaPhotography has brought together vintage photographs from 1839 through to WW II (1939). They claim to have already loaded 170,000 images into europeana, and they plan to load around 500,000 images through to 2015. On their Website they mentioned 8,000 photographs from the collection of the Italian Geographical Society, and antique photographs of Naples from the Alinari archive in Firenze. The project also has its own showcase with the DigitalMeetsCulture Website.

Europeana Sound plans to bring the number of audio items on europeana to over 1 million. EuropeanaConnect also will add 200,000 audio tracks to the assets already available on europeana. It is not clear where they are in the project cycle, but I also found some europeana sound tracks on soundcloud which claims to be the “largest community of artists, bands, podcasters and creators of music and audio”, e.g. this page hosts tracks from Scarlatti, Holst and Rameau. I’m note sure what relationship these tracks have with any of the europeana music-related projects.

European Fashion is aggregating more than 700,000 fashion-related digital objects, including dresses and accessories, as well as posters, drawings, and fashion catalogues. A smaple search on Giorgio Armani produced 849 items in “fashion collections”, 439 items in “women’s costumes”, 287 items in “men’s costumes” and 127 items under “haute couture”. 

ECLAP is a European e-library for performing arts heritage. It is an online archive for all the performing arts in Europe, and equally it provides tools to help performing arts institutions. It appears to host more than 600 contributions, but its sustainability is still in question. I personally found the site difficult to understand and navigate, but I’m sure it contains some precious assets for those willing to search through the collection.

The Digitising Contemporary Art project has digitised a collection of nearly 27,000 artworks with their contextual documents. So far you can access more than 25,000 “records” with works by people such as Antoni Tàpies, Marcus Doyle, and Mark Stetson.

SquinchPix presents itself as an archive of European Imagery, and claims to host nearly 22,000 images and more than 300,000 tags. In the blog there is much talk about collecting geo-tagged pictures of Ostia (see the Website Phosphor-Ostia). In the “new image sets” mention is made of images being contributed/collected from Hagia Triada in Crete, Athens, Florence, Tomar in Portugal, Rome, Carcassone, and Château Azay-Le-Rideau in France. As an example, clicking through found 176 images for this last Château and 106 images for the façade of Santa Maria Novella in Florence.

Archives Portal Europe is a one-stop Web service to European archives (based upon an old EU-funded project called APEx) . They claim to provide search functions across nearly 60 million “descriptive units” held in nearly 900 institutions.

Global-World Digital Libraries

The World Digital Library wants to make available, free of charge, primary material from around the world. It logs nearly 10,000 items provided by quite a long list of national, academic and specialist libraries. There is a very simple “subject” index covering place, time, topic, type of item, and institution.

Google’s Art Project allows you both to discover art works for a long list of major museums. You can sign in and create your own museum from the different art works in the different museums.

The British Library collected in their Voice Map recording of peoples voices from all around the world.

The Newseum has a special agreement with more than 800 newspapers worldwide allowing it to displays front pages each day on a map. The front pages are in their original, unedited form, and the work is supposed to also be part of a test of a watermarking system to prevent illegal downloads of the newspaper front pages.

Ancient Ports - Ports Antiques list more than 3,000 ancient ports, including anchorages, beaches, ports, etc. that provided shelter for ships.

There is an interesting “List of heritage registers” available on Wikipedia. These are inventories of cultural properties, which can be natural or man-made, tangible and intangible, and movable and immovable. From Albania to Zimbabwe. collects VR panoramas from the best 360 VR photographers. This can range from a panorama of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, to one of Mount Everest, to one of the Hong Kong protests in 2012.

The Built Works Registry is all about giving global ID’s to architecture and built environments. There is also a blog associated with this project.

The Athenaeum aims to be a repository of primary source material (images, maps, texts, etc.) of (presently) artworks. My impression is major artists are missing, but the range of contributing museums is impressive, e.g. the collection is of “less-known” 19th C and 20th C artists. You can search by artist, museum, art movement, etc. As an example I looked at the Italian Futurist Giacomo Balla (1871-1958) with 52 artworks, most from private collectors. The remaining 8 artworks were contributed by 7 major museums. A useful addition to what might be called “classical” museum image collections.

WikiArt has a vocation to be a online repository of fine art. You can search by artist, movement, school, style, period, etc. A simple search on Titian (1488-1576) produced 255 images of his work. 

World Images contains more than 100,000 images classified according to things like pre-history or science, as well as “projects” such as 19th C Paris.

Cities and Buildings Database is of buildings and cities throughout the world. As far as I can see there are about 12,000 images of searchable by country, city, date of construction, etc.

Digital Imaging Project claims to be home to 24,000 images of sculpture and architecture. Sites added in 2015 included Durham Cathedral and Rotterdam.

Early Modern Architecture covers Europe and its colonies, e.g. 1400-1800. The resources page provides access to topics such as image databases, which then points to sites such as the Palladio Museum and the Sir John Soane’s Museum


There is an interesting collection entitled The Asia Collections which looks to be thin on content but tries to cover a wide range of topics from mandalas through to the Caitya. In addition it does point to quite a selection of resources, everything from the Duxiu database with its 2.15 million full-text books in pdf format, the Chinese Ancient Texts Database (a membership database in Chinese), or the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan.

The Huntington has a photographic Archive of Buddhist and Asian Art with quite a few online exhibitions covering China, India, Japan and Tibet. Interestingly they also had a good “educational resource” section with art history, maps, and a part on lost or stolen art in Tibet and Afghanistan.

Asian Historical Architecture is a photographic survey of Asian architectural heritage, including 25,000 images of nearly 1,000 different sites.


The Culture Grid is a online service for UK collections supported by the Arts Council in England. They claim to house more than 3 million items from 100’s of collections. I found the search option very hit-and-miss. For example, a search on the Austrian symbolist painter “Klimt” yielded only 3 “hits” and all three with “hanging links” from The Bowes Museum in County Durham. On the other hand a search for the German porcelain manufacturer “Meissen” turned up 241 “hits” and many links through to the collection in The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Culture Grid is also the home for the UK Public Library Dataset with contact information for over 4,000 UK public libraries, and the UK’s public libraries People’s Networksearch & discover”. They also house a search engine for “Understanding British Portraits” that searches across portrait collections in the UK. For example a search for the English 18th C portrait painter “Reynolds” yielded 11 “hits” with pointers to the holdings in The Barber Institute, The Bowes Museum, The Royal Academy of Arts, The Royal Institute, the Cullum Collection, The Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, The Royal Collection, and The National Portrait Gallery. The Timeline is a beta at the moment and covers Seaside, Olympics, Camera, “Queen Victoria”, Women and Fashion, and Musical Instruments. For example, “Queen Victoria” placed 382 items from 4 collections across a timeline spanning the period 1870-2000. The Culture Grid also has Exploring 20th Century London which does a good job in pulling-together 19 different London museums, libraries and archives into a timeline-themes-places topic space.

History to Herstory is a UK-based site about women in history (1100 to the present). More than 80,000 documents form an archive of diaries, letters, journals, minutes and other written material plus photographs and artworks that tell the story of women’s lives as led in the home, the workplace, the political arena and even the mental asylum.

The Early Music Online project has digitised more than 300 books of the world’s earliest printed music from holdings at the British Library. Some of the books date back as far as the 1500’s and due to their fragile nature would not be freely available to researchers, but thanks to this digitization project musicians from around the world can now source the original music free of charge.

The British Cartoon Archive holds the artwork for more than 150,000 British editorial, socio-political, and pocket cartoons.

The British Library virtual exhibition London: A Life in Google Maps” charts the evolution of the city by looking at maps of it through the ages. Themes include Roman to Stuart, 18th C,  the East End, and Victorian London. You can also see the maps a layers over Google Earth.

The Old Bailey Proceedings Online makes available a fully searchable, digitised collection of all surviving editions of the Old Bailey Proceedings from 1674 to 1913, and of the Newgate Prison Accounts between 1676 and 1772. It allows access to over 197,000 trials and biographical details of approximately 2,500 men and women executed at Tyburn.

Locating London’s Past provides an intuitive GIS interface enabling researchers to map and visualize textual and artifactual data relating to 17th C and 18th C London against the 1746 map of London by John Rocque and the first accurate modern OS map.

The Wellcome Library has place around 1,000 Arabic medicine manuscripts freely available online.

The BBC is co-sponsor of Your Paintings, a website which aims to show the entire UK national collection of oil paintings, the stories behind the paintings, and where to see them for real. It is made up of more than 200,000 paintings from thousands of museums and other public institutions around the country.

The UK National New Media Collection is in the National Media Museum which houses more than 3.5 million items concerned with photography, cinematography, television and new media. The photographic collection includes 3 million photographs for the Daily Herald newspaper and over 250,000 images from the Royal Photographic Society. The cinematographic and television collection include equipment, televisions, projectors, optical toys, lantern slides, studio equipment, etc. The new media collection includes home computers and Internet, as well as the national videogame archive

The First World War Poetry Digital Archive includes around 7,000 items of text, images, audio, etc. of poets such as Wilfred Owen and Robert Graves.

The Cairo Genizah collection is a series of 4,000 fragments, equivalent to around 25,000 pages, featuring Bible, early Rabbinic literature, numerous liturgical fragments, and legal documents and letters.

A Vision of Britain through Time brings together historical surveys of Britain to create a record of how the country and its localities have changed (1801 to 2001). It tries to fusion places, historical maps, census reports, travel writing, and statistical data into one information and learning resource.

The Folger Shakespeare Library had launched the Folger Digital Texts with Shakespeare’s play available for free. The Library itself because it provides a excellent resource to discover and learn all about Shakespeare’s life and works.

A new interactive map of London shows where German bombs landed over the course of eight months during World War II gives new meaning to the word Blitz.

The British Museum has placed in their digital archive more than 15,000 colourful Persian manuscripts. This is in fact just one example of what can be found in their collection of digitised manuscripts, which includes the Harley Golden Gospels, Beowulf, the Silos Apocalypse, Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebook, the Petit Livre d’Amour and the Golf Book. In addition they also have a specific Website dedicated to illuminated manuscripts, which includes a virtual exhibition on Royal Manuscripts (there are some other past virtual exhibitions also available here). And don’t forget that the British Library also has a separate blog on digitised medieval manuscripts. More generally the digitised manuscript collection includes 600 Greek manuscripts, 150 medieval and modern scientific manuscripts, 400 so-called Royal manuscripts, 120 contributions on botany in India between 1780 and 1860, music manuscripts, 11,000 works from Persia, as well as manuscripts from Thailand and Malaysia.

The UK National Archives provides access to 1,000 years of historical records, and it has more recently built specific collections (from Air Force to migration). The have a newsletter, a blog, podcasts and videos, and an archive of 50,000 images available for download (including 1,000 maps and plans). There is also a separate section on accessions to the archives, which can cover literally everything from the 2012 Olympics to legal history.

There is also the Archives Hub which provides a kind of one-stop-shop to the UK’s historical archives. I tested it using the keyword “Aylesbury” which turned up 297 hits, the first one being on the Aylesbury Sewage Scheme 1921 and the abolishing of cesspools. Of course there were other documents on such things as the arrival of the Habitat store in 1984 or the photographs of the local woman’s guild from 1910.

The UK Office of National Statistics produces statistics on the economy, population and society. This can be total public service productivity estimates, or healthcare productivity estimates, or consumer prices index, or something simple like total population. One really interesting addition is the 2011 Census, with all the information on religions, dependent children, etc. Another important site is the Census Support for the UK Data Service, which provides the social science community with high-quality access to census data, and including other surveys, international macro-data, business micro-data, and historical census data from 1971.

vads (the visual arts data service) is an online resource for visual arts, collecting more than 100,000 images. The collections cover topics such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Romanesque sculpture, and the Design Council Archive. The resources area touches on topics such as calligraphy, ceramic decoration, and new jewellery.

The British Library is a vast resource of catalogues for researchers and collections for visitors (such as the digitised manuscripts or the Web archive). Here I just want to also mention their collection of podcasts which might otherwise go un-noticed.

And talking of podcasts, the University of Oxford also has a collection of podcasts that are well worth looking at.

Here I have just put a few markers to the UK National Portrait Gallery, the UK National Trust Collections, and the image collection of The Courtauld.


A Digital Literary Atlas of Ireland, 1922-1949 provides literary, historical and cartographic information on 14 Irish writers, from Molly Keane to Samuel Beckett.

The Corpus of Electronic Texts (CELT), formerly known as Curia, looks at Irish literary and historical culture (in Irish, Latin, Old Norse, Anglo-Norman French, and English). It now claims to provide access to 1348 contemporary and historical documents.


The Vatican online catalogues from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana gives you access to both the general catalogue and specific collections form manuscripts, printed books, graphic materials and art objects, incunabula, and coins and medals. A quick check on the coin collection yielded zero records for “gold” and “silver”, only 1 record for “god”, but 13 records for “Silvio”. Naturally enough “Argento” yielded 4,760 records, so whilst the front-end is in English and Italian, the underlying catalogue is only in Italian and there is no automatic term mapping between English and Italian. The actual record itself is very complete, and offers an extended record and good quality front and back photos of the coin. Records for other types of material, e.g. manuscripts, etc., are also complete but lack any visual material. 

The European History Primary Sources (EHPS) is based in the European University Institute in Florence. It is essentially a searchable index of scholarly digital repositories about the history of Europe. It lists history-oriented portals in different European countries, and provides access to different repositories by country, language, period (medieval to 21st C), subject (e.g. from architecture, through military, to economic), and type (encyclopaedia to cartoons). For example it lists 72 sources in France, 123 sources in French, 106 medieval sources, 47 military sources, and 33 pamphlet sources. As an example there is one French source of military history, the Online Froissart, concerning the chronicles of Jean Froissart (running from around 1326 to 1400) and which, oddly enough, is based at the University of Sheffield.     


The US Library of Congress now houses 158 million items, including 36 million cataloged books and more than 69 million manuscripts. The collection also houses 5.5 million maps, and there are also 13.7 million photographs, 6.7 million items of sheet music, and 1.7 million moving images on a multitude of different formats. Each year the library adds another 2.65 million physical items, sees 1.6 million visitors, and replies to more than 1 million reference requests. Their Website recorded 84 million visits and 519 million page-views. There are a number of collections on the Website, including:

The American Memory project contains the historical collections for the National Digital Library at the Library of Congress. It contains “multimedia collections of digitized documents, photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures, and text from the Library’s Americana collections. There are currently over 40 collections in American Memory.”

The University of Chicago digital library is in many ways a typical example of what can been done by those institutions that retrospectively digitise their existing library collections. They have put online the following collections:

American Environmental Photographs (1891-1936) - for me quite a boring set of 4,500 glass lantern slides, glass negatives, and prints 

The University of Chicago Photographic Archive - another boring set of 60,000 photographs of groups, buildings, events etc. The only part that looks interesting (to me) is the collection of the Browse Yerkes observatory, including photographs of the instruments and equipment, and in particular the photographs of the Nobel prize winners Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Albert Einstein, Albert Abraham Michelson, and the astronomers Edwin Hubble and Fred Hoyle.  

A pamphlet collection and database on the 1933-1934 World Fair held in Chicago.

The First American West is a site with 15,000 pages of original material documenting the Ohio River Valley between 1750-1820, including the relationship between the first Europeans to enter the trans-Appalachian West and the native Indians. 

The Goodspeed Manuscript Collection covers 68 New Testament manuscripts and 114 papyri fragments dating from the 5th to the 19th C.

Rutgers University Libraries has an excellent “indexes and databases” page covering everything from Abstracts in Anthropology to Your Journals@Ovid (many are subscription-based). 

The papers of Philip M. Klutznick, a Jewish community leader in Chicago.

The Rose & Chess site covers two medieval manuscripts Le Roman de la Rose and Le Jeu des échecs moralisé, both produced ca. 1365 in France by the so-called “Master of Saint Voult”. These are two illuminated manuscripts, one a courtly romance, and the other a treatise on medieval society using the game of chess as a framework.

In addition to these specialised source the University of Chicago also has a large-scale digitised archive, providing search functions across the papers of a range of people ranging from a governor of New York, an early civil engineer, a philologist, and a Spanish author. However dded to this collection you can also find a manuscript collection of American recipes, a collection on Chicago crime between 1909-1927, an array of material about Abraham Lincoln, and a collection on the history of science between 1642-1961.

Tufts University has an ongoing digital library project, which includes a number of local topics, a searchable collection of US election returns for 1785-1825, and the Perseus Digital Library Project. This digital library, under development since 1985, covers a variety of resources including the history, literature and culture of the Greco-Roman world. In addition the Perseus site at Tufts also hosts additional resources on early modern English, the American Civil War, Italian poetry in Latin, documents in Old Norse, and customized reading support for Arabic language.

The American Museum of Natural History has built a special sub-site for Darwin providing access to a searchable catalogue of Darwin’s manuscripts.

The Lincoln Digital Archives is scanning the entire contents of the past president’s administration, including 14 million federal records covering the US Civil War (1861-1865).

Engines of Our Ingenuity are the recordings and transcripts of a US-based public radio program started in 1988 that talks about how our culture is formed by human creativity. Not the most user-friendly of sites, but it looks to be a very rich collection, e.g. there are nearly 3,000 transcripts on topics ranging from the Jacquard loom, through crossing the Atlantic under steam, to “Taking Champagne to the Masses”. There is a search function, so you can look up things like Kurt Gödel (episode 1899), Schrödinger’s Cat (episode 347), the Bohr-Einstein debates (episode 2627) and adult stem cells (episode 2108).

The Oyez project provides access US Supreme Court audio recordings from Oct. 1955 (before 1968 the audio collection is selective). To date they have 7,000 hours of recordings.

The California Digital Library is a combined resources for the University of California. For example Calisphere is a free public gateway to primary sources offering more than 200,000 digitised items (usually with an educational objective). Calisphere provides access to classroom local history material for the period 1780-1970’s, it provides access to Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive, and to more than 500 university Websites (e.g. Museum of Paleontology, the Cuniform Initiative, Oceanographic expeditions, and the DeCou collection of 10,000 hand-tinted glass lantern slides).

The Visible Human Project from US National Library of Medicine produced “a complete, anatomically detailed, three-dimensional representations of the male and female human body made up of more than 18,000 digitised sections”. The project consists of two parts, image sources and animations, and applications for viewing the image collection. For example the GigaPan Time Machine shows a zoomable scan through the a male and female body. There is also a guided tour, and the Voxel-Man site has a 3D navigator for the inner organs. The viewing applications include a real-time slice navigator, a radiologic anatomy atlas viewer, a Voxel browser, as well as educational applications. At a more general level there has been much work over the last 10 years on the Living Human Project and Virtual Physiological Human, and this second site links to numerous EU-funded projects.

Yale has a Visual Resources section starts by pointing to major collections such as the US National Gallery of Art “Images”, the UK National Portrait Gallery, the UK National Trust Collections, the flickr gallery of the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the bildindex of the Marburg Bildarchiv, the German Digitaler Portrait Index, the image collection of The Courtauld, the banque d’images des monument of the French Centre des Monuments Nationaux, and Gallica providing access to the collection of the Bibliothéque nationale de France. The Yale Visual Resources Collection itself has more than 370,000 images, but I think that it is access limited. However you can access the Yale University Digital Collections with their 600,000 images. This provides access across the different university collections, e.g. the digitised collections of their Medical Library, images from the Manuscripts and Archives collection, 6,500 fire insurance maps, etc. The university also has its own Art Gallery database for its collection of 170,000 images (e.g. Western Motel by Hopper), and there is a separate center for British Art (see highlights).

The David Rumsey Map Collection (he is owner of Cartography Associates and Luna Imaging) contains about 150,000 maps, with more than 66,000 maps online. I understand that the collection has been donated to Stanford University. Just as an example, when I visited I saw a composite map of the Regno di Napoli, made by Giovanni Antonio Rizzi Zannoni (1736-1814), and dated 1808. The site allows you to “browse all” and the software used for the presentation allows the visitor to zoom in and see the selected map in extreme detail. In addition there is also the site called Visual Collections which uses the same software to present images (cartography, fine arts, architecture, and photography), however there are some dead-links. The claim is that this site allows the visitor to explore more than 300,000 images from more than 50 collections. There appears to a strong link with LUNAcommons, a “new” source of educational content from digital collections. However everything appears to point to something called the Museums & the Online Archive of California, which brings together selected works from 8 Californian museums (film archives, museum of anthropology, graphic arts, photography, etc.). There is a separate site for the Online Archive of California, with its 200 contributing institutions. What I have done below is to unfold the collection links:

The AMICA Library links through to a collection of 77,000 images held on LUNAcommons (this link appears to be the same as for the Museums & the Online Archive of California)

Faber Gravestone Collection is a small collection of 9,000 images of 7,500 gravestones

The CITY 2000 collection is a collection of more than 14,000 images of Chicago taken by 200 photographers during 366 days. This is just one of 217 CARLI Collections

Athanasius Kircher is a collection writings of Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680), who was a 17th C German scholar and polymath who write on a vast array of topics, including Egyptology, China, volcanoes and fossils, microorganisms, etc. There is also a Mapping The Republic of Letters which looks at the network of correspondence of people such as D’Alembert, Voltaire, Galileo, Franklin, Locke and Kircher.

Rylands Collection is a collection of more than 11,000 images of rare books and manuscripts in the University of Manchester library. There is also a special collections blog. Rylands Papyri is a separate image archive in the same university, as is the Rylands Genizah collection of manuscript fragments from the Ben Ezra synagogue in Old Cairo.

Charting the Nation is a collection of more than 3,600 maps and books on the geography of Scotland from 1550 to beyond 1740. It is part of a project of the same name in the University of Edinburgh. They are also home to the Walter Scott Digital Archive, and its image collection.

John Carter Brown Library has nearly 9,000 images from their collections, covering what looks to be the history of America and the Americas (e.g. Peru, Brazil, etc.). The library also has a whole series of online exhibitions on topics such as Pamphlet Wars and the Spanish American Revolutions.

Political Americana is a Cornell University collection of more than 2,000 images of political campaign memorabilia. Claire Holt Papers is another Cornell collection, this time with nearly 1,800 images of Indonesian Art. The Rare and Manuscript Collections of Cornell is just one of a whole catalogue of digital collections ranging from 13,000 architectural photographs, 3,000 images of South Asian architecture, 3,000 titles in their witchcraft collection, a Cuneiform Library, and the Johnson Museum of Art with its collection of 35,000 images.

The Catena Historic Gardens & Landscapes Archive provides access to more than 1,000 maps and images.

Japanese Historical Maps is a Berkeley collection with more than 1,900 images of maps and books.

Samek Art Gallery has a collection of nearly 3,000 images.

Maps of Africa at Stanford University has a collection of more than 600 maps. Stanford also has quite a digital collection, including a photography collection, a media archive on artificial intelligence, a text archive on Medieval and Modern Thought, 1,000’s of maps in the Geological Survey Collection, and 16,000 images in the Historical Photograph Collection.

Centro Asturiano de Tampa Membership Records is mentioned in LUNACommons, but it now no longer uses the image software. However in hunting for this site I came across the University of South Florida libraries digital collection. The ones that caught my eye were the 3,600 images of the Saskia collection of Western art, the Spanish Civil War History project, and the Florida Map Collection

The American Antiquarian Society has a “digital” part listing projects, collections and projects. Examples are The European Political Print Collection and the American Vernacular Music Manuscripts project.

The Digital Public Library of America has a sizable collection of exhibitions, including the Great Depression and Maps in American Culture. The site has search functions based upon maps and a timeline. It is difficult to understand the size of this collection, but it could exceed 5 million items, a search on “White Sands” produced 483 “hits” including a travelogue, photographs, texts, etc.   

The US Library of Congress has their American Memory project and their Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. They say that the American Memory project produced 23 digital collections and 100 thematic collections, but the list looks much more extensive (possible more than 260 collections). The Prints and Photograph collections include everything from cartoon prints (825 items) to pre-1915 Japanese fine prints (2,600 items). And there are more than 13,000 items in the World Digital Library.

The New York Public Library Digital Collections has more than 650,000 digitised items. A search on “Empire State Building” produced 316 “hits”, most photographs during its construction.

The Smithsonian has a database of more than 9.5 million records, including more than 1.4 million online media files. A quick search produced nearly 550,000 paintings, 120,000 sculptures, 80,000 drawings, etc. “Caravaggio” produced 147 “hits” including 18 images. “White Sands” produced nearly 3,800 “hits” including 400 images (but that included hits on White and Sand). The Archives of American Art is (now also) a Smithsonian Institution for the collection and preservation of the history of visual arts in America.

The Archival Collections of the Art Institute Chicago provides access to collections on historical architecture as well as digital libraries of artists’ and architects’ papers.

I am not sure if A Digital Archive of Architecture is maintained now, but it is still there providing access to images of important buildings from pre-history (Stonehenge) through the 16th C (Fontainebleau), to the 20th C (Pompidou Center). 

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Digital Collections includes such things as Decorative Arts, The Art of Books, SouthEast Asian Images & Texts, Historical Research in Europe, New Communication Technologies, The East Asian Collection, and History of Science

The Huntington Mayard L. Parker collection is of modern photography, with around 58,000 images from the post-war era (access is here).

The US National Park Service has a National Register of Historic Places and Heritage Documentation Programs.

The Yale University Library has general image resources, including topics such as advertising, architecture, maps, medieval studies, Renaissance and Baroque Europe, Science, and Modern Art.   


The Bibliothéque Nationale de France, along with the Stanford University Libraries, has created the French Revolution Digital Archive. It includes the archives parlementaires for the years 1787 to 1794, and a ca. 14,000 visual items (e.g. prints, illustrations, medals,...) from the period. You can search according to timeline, people, artist, etc., and one example would be the 218 “estampe” of the illustrator and engraver Jean-Michel Moreau who, despite being a sympathiser of the French Revolution, was best known for his recording of fashionable dress during the Ancien Régime.

Regnum Francorum Online is a mapping software with overlay for French territories, places, and historical monuments. The focus looks to be about the nearly 6,000 early medieval monuments found in France today. It looks like it integrate the Base Merimée which is the French national inventory of architecture and culture heritage. A blog called Early Medieval Mapping is also mentioned, but it looks not to have updated since April 2012 (still it might point to some good resources).


CVCE (Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l’Europe) is based in Luxembourg and is a collection of more than 20,000 documents concerning European studies, and more specifically European integration. The core of the resources available are found under “Publications” and you will need to use the left-hand menu to navigated, but topics covered include corpora on the integration of Austria, Spain, France, and Portugal, as well as post-war Europe, the Rome Treaties, and the Schuman Plan. There is particularly interesting collection of oral histories from people who witnessed events that shaped European integration.

Dramata Festiva, is on the théâtre des Jésuites au Collège de Luxembourg (the present National Library of Luxembourg). It was last updated in 2007.

Here is the banque d’images des monument of the French Centre des Monuments Nationaux, with Gallica providing access to the collection of the Bibliothéque nationale de France.

The Netherlands

It would appear that the Rijksmuseum has posted 125,000 masterpieces on its Website. This ranges from Javanese court official costumes, dolls houses, flower pyramids, and the paintings of dutch masters such as Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael, Jan Havicksz Steen, Rembrandt, and Vermeer.


The Cairo Genizah collection is a series of 4,000 fragments, equivalent to around 25,000 pages, featuring Bible, early Rabbinic literature, numerous liturgical fragments, and legal documents and letters.


The interactive Website “Closer to Van Kyck: Rediscovering the Ghent Altarpiece” presents 1,000’s of high-resolution images and a final report on its restoration. Macrophotography, infrared macrophotography and reflectography and X-radiography are included along with extreme close-ups. I came across this reference on a Website Art and the Bible which has quite a collection of famous paintings inspired by Biblical events.


Trove, from the National Library of Australia, claims to provide access (essentially a discovery tool) to more than 380 million Australian and online resources (digitised newspapers, journals, books, pictures, music, video, maps, letters, archives, lists, etc.). 

For example, there is an Australian Newspaper Digitisation Program, which is an archive of Australian newspapers published prior to 1995 (12 million pages from over 650 newspapers).


The Simon Fraser University Library Editorial Cartoons Collection contains over 9300 original drawings published in Canadian newspapers between 1952 and the present.

Library and Archives Canada (known under the name Collections Canada) is a bi-lingual site of the Canadian libraries and archives. In addition to services for the professional, “acquisitions”, and providing access to databases, etc. there are a variety of “collections”. I decided to look at “Art” where most of the content appears to be “archived”, e.g. “older” sites and pages keep but not maintained and updated. One of the few active sites was on Rare Book Illustrations, before 1800. A site containing 550 images of engravings. Another area was Maps, Charts and Architectural Plans. What was apparent was that the content was clearly available, but was most destined for the expert not the casual browser.


Biografias y Vidas is a Spanish language Website with 1,000’s of biographies of historical and contemporary people. I looked up Paco de Lucia (was up-to-date just after his death in March 2014) and Francisco de Goya y Lucientes. Both contributions were perfect.

Dialnet provides access to Spanish-language revistas, documentos, and tesis. More than 9,000 journals, 4.5 million documents and more than 42,000 theses. The journals include topics such as basic science, health sciences, economics, humanities, art and philosophy. The entire list of accessible journals is here. I just checked one journal “Analisis Financiero” which provided access to issues between 1981 and 2014. The full texts were available for Spanish-language contributions on “net actives”, “ratings” on shares issued in Spain between 1993 and 2011, and systemic risk in hedge funds.

This is a link to the flickr gallery of the Biblioteca Nacional de España.

Here we have the Casselman Archive of Islamic and Mudejar Architecture in Spain.


This is the bildindex of the Marburg Bildarchiv, and the German Digitaler Portrait Index.