Other Resources

What kind of resources in digital history are available for student research? Many museums, archives, libraries, and universities are currently organizing and undergoing digitization projects and making their collections–in part or in whole–available for public use. Below are some of my favorites.

Jewish History

The Center for Jewish History, New York

The Center for Jewish History in New York is the home of five independent Jewish historical and research institutes: the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, the Leo Baeck Institute, the Yeshiva University Museum, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Combined, these institutes have digitized an enormous amount of documents, images, and sound recordings which you can search in a combined catalog known as the Center for Jewish History Digital Collections or browse by institution or resource type.


Russian History

Project for the Study of Dissidence and Samizdat

“Samizdat” is the Russian term invented in the 1950s to describe the self-published uncensored texts distributed through unofficial networks in the Soviet Union and other communist countries. These works of literature, poetry, musical commentary, history, political criticism, and resistance by national minorities became the currency of dissidence in the Cold War Soviet Union. In 2011 Ann Komaromi at the University of Toronto launched the Database and Electronic Archive of Soviet Samizdat Periodicals to “prompt former dissidents to share information and materials” and to inspire further research on samizdat publications and dissidence in the Soviet Union. This online database and archive is a model for the potential of digital history to change teaching and scholarship. Komaromi and the University of Toronto Libraries cooperated with several other institutions and libraries, including the famed Moscow Memorial Society, to make hundreds of samizdat available fully digitized and cataloged in an easily searchable database, along with an extensive bibliography and helpful introduction to the samizdat genre. In 2015, thanks to several grants and new partners, Komaromi and the University of Toronto Libraries launched the Project for the Study of Dissidence and Samizdat. The new phase of the project brought in more scholars and more samizdat to create a new digital archive, illustrated timelines, and interviews with activists, authors and editors of samizdat journals.

History of Russia in Photographs

The History of Russia in Photographs (Istoriia Rossii v Fotografiiakh) is the simple name for a massive undertaking in digital archiving by the Moscow Multimedia Art Museum, the Russian and Moscow ministries of culture, and the Russian search engine Yandex. The site to date includes 70,799 photographs from 118 museums, archives, and personal collections spanning from 1860-1999. You can view photographs by theme, location (using an interactive map), date (using an interactive timeline), or browse dozens of digital exhibitions on topics such as “St. Petersburg Swedes,” “The circus,” “Soviet Romance,” and many others. The project is participatory and constantly expanding as both institutions and individual users can upload photographs from their collections. Photographs are titled and many have descriptions, making the site easy to search. The entire site is in Russian, geared as it is for Russian users, but non-Russian speakers could easily navigate it with Chrome and/or minimal use of Google Translate (non-Russian speakers can also use the search tool simply by translating a word on Google Translate and pasting it into the search bar).


European History

The Bauhaus at the Harvard Art Museums

Because the founder of the Weimar German Bauhaus School, Walter Gropius, served as Professor and Chair of Harvard’s Department of Art and Architecture between 1937 and 1952, Harvard’s Busch-Reisinger Museum includes one of the world’s largest collections of original Bauhaus art and designed products (more than 30,000 items), largely donated by those associated with the movement and its pedagogy, as well as a significant body of Gropius’s papers and other archival material. The Harvard Art Museums have compiled a representative sample from their collections into an online exhibit called simply the Bauhaus, which includes digitized art and records organized around 12 themes, such as “Furniture,” “Weaving,” “Typography,” and “The Bauhaus in America,” each with short introductions and hundreds, or in some cases thousands, of examples. Users can also search the digitized collection by keyword or filter, or browse by artist, work type, etc. The site also includes a helpful chronology and a list of Bauhaus archival materials at Harvard. While the digital exhibit is only a sample of Harvard’s collection (and a visit to the site is still no substitute for a visit to the museum itself) it is an invaluable tool for teaching and research.


Legal History

The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy

The Yale Law School and its Lillian Goldman Library has compiled a bank of documents in legal and diplomatic history stretching from Aristotle’s Athenian Constitution (in translation of course) to the report of the 9/11 Commission. Researchers can browse documents chronological and topical sections. The selections are a bit thin before the 18th century, but the collection is a good resource for American treaties and documents relating to American and international diplomacy. The Avalon Project also manages Project DIANA, an online human rights archive of selected cases in human rights law, and a Nuremberg Trials Collection with selected documents from the Military Tribunal for Germany.

Medieval English Legal History: An Index of English Year Book Reports

The Year Books are English law books dating from 1268 to 1535 and our key source on the development of English common law. Boston University Professor of Law David Seipp has been creating detailed records with the cases paraphrased in a searchable open-access online index (thus far nearly 7,000 of the 22,000 cases). You can search according to numerous criteria and simply click on the “Seipp Number” for the full record, including language notes, commentary, and sometimes an image taken from the original page. The cases circulated in manuscript form before printing and the database is based on the Vulgate (standard/common) edition printed between 1678 and 1670, which can be accessed in microfilm at Harvard University or Oxford’s Bodleian Library. The site also includes lists of manuscripts, old printed editions, abridgements, and a bibliography of books and articles that discuss the Year Books.

Nuremberg Trials Project

The Harvard Law School Library has created a digital collection to make publicly available some of its million + pages on the Nuremberg Trial. The project has cataloged materials relating to three of the thirteen trials and provided digitized documents and a partial trial transcript for the first trial, the Medical Case. It also provides access to 219 photographs taken during the trial. All in all the project digitized only a small fraction of Harvard’s Nuremberg collection before running out of funds (and it is not easy to use) but it is very useful as a fully searchable online archive. Hint: use the sitemap!