American Memory Project

"American Memory is a multimedia web site of digitized historical documents, photographs, sound recordings, moving pictures, books, pamphlets, maps, and other resources from the Library of Congress’s vast holdings. A historic initiative in its own right, American Memory currently makes available more than 100 collections and more than 9 million individual items to users in the U.S. and throughout the world." This is the most extensive collection I have seen, with millions of items in a variety of formats. Users can browse by topic or search the site, as well as view collection highlights. This homepage is a portal which will lead the user into different collections.

American Revolution Digital Learning Project

This digital archive, developed by the New York Historical Society, provides an in-depth insight into American life during the Revolutionary era. In addition to valuable texts and learning materials, the archive hosts hundreds of images. These images can be found through the object browser, which presents the users with all of the images available, as well as the keyword index, where images can be found through context within a topic. Student exhibitions are also an excellent source for images within a specific topic. The Historical Society welcomes classroom and academic use of its text and images.


Developed by the University of California, Calisphere contains over 15,000 digitized primary sources pertaining to the history and culture of California. The site is designed for classroom use, with the digitized items being organized into "sets that support the California Content Standards in History-Social Sciences, English-Language Arts, and Visual Arts for use in K-12 classroom." These sets include collections organized by historical collections, cultures, and themes such as the Japanese-American internment experience during World War II. The site also includes browsing capabilities, zoom features, and high quality images.

Cornell University Collection of Political Americana

From the Susan H. Douglas Collection of Political Americana at Cornell University, this collection includes about 5,500 items of "ballots, bric-a-brac (larger three-dimensional objects), broadsides, buttons, cartoons, maps and charts, pamphlets, paper miscellaneous, parade items, posters, prints, ribbons, sheet music, songbooks, textiles, trinkets, and wearing apparel." This collection is hosted on the Luna platform, and offers users convenient features such as having a personalized workspace and creating presentations. Digital reproductions may be copied and used for educational purposes.

Encyclopedia Smithsonian: History and Culture

The Smithsonian's Encyclopedia of History and Culture is a portal to a number of collections dealing with American history and culture, from the Hall of Presidents to Kermit the Frog. Not all of the collections have images available for download, however. Some contain only articles and various resources such as timelines and other textual resources. However, the site is worth browsing through and the materials are free to use for educational purposes, as long as the Smithsonian is cited.

Flickr Groups

With thousands of Flickr groups already in existence, and many more on the way, it is hard not to find a specific group to match your image needs. These collections are maintained by Flickr users with a common interest, and so the quality of the images will vary between groups and users. Many artists choose to protect their images under a Creative Commons License, which allows the user access to images as long as the artist is credited. The following Flickr groups might be helpful for the purposes of this section:
White House Photo Stream

Images of American Political History

Owned and organized by Bill Ball, this site contains 540 items illustrating the political history of the United States. Examples include scans of old documents, maps and graphs of election patterns, and portraits of political figures. The site is organized chronologically, with no search ability, and contains images of good quality. Users are able to view images as a sideshow directly from the website. The caveat comes from Bill Ball, who states "Please feel free to download these for personal use. DO NOT attempt to contact me about copyrights. These images are in the public domain as far as I can ascertain but I am not a copyright clearance center. I am sure your book/movie/museum exhibit is a great project but I will NOT respond to your e-mail asking about copyright."

Labadie Collection

"The Joseph A. Labadie Collection is the oldest research collection of radical history in the United States, documenting a wide variety of international social protest movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is named for anarchist and labor organizer Joseph Antoine Labadie (1850-1933)." The collection can be browsed by the subjects on the left side, such as pamphlets and political buttons. In addition, a search feature is available. The images are very high quality.

National Archives Online Exhibits

The National Archives, as the epitome of American history, offers users an extensive aray of collections that cover all aspects of this subject. Featured exhibits, such as Documented Rights and the Deadly Virus, are avaialble on the front page of the online exhibits, while other collections can be viewed by clicking on the 'more online exhibits' at the upper left. All images are freely available to the public, and are very high quality.

Photographs of International Exhibitions

From the National Gallery of Art, "The Photographic Archives maintains a large collection of photographs, albums, and postcard booklets from various international expositions. Spectacular architecture, displays of technological innovations, both scientific and mechanical, and exhibitions of fine art are documented by these historic images. The Photographic Archives collection includes views of the fairs listed below, with sample images for Philadelphia 1876, Paris 1889, Paris 1900, and Glasgow 1901." Clicking on the 'view booklet' option will allow users to view images from these exhibitions. Images are available for educational use.

The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Trade in the Americas: A Visual Record

"The approximately 1,235 images in this collection have been selected from a wide range of sources, most of them dating from the period of slavery. This collection is envisioned as a tool and a resource that can be used by teachers, researchers, students, and the general public - in brief, anyone interested in the experiences of Africans who were enslaved and transported to the Americas and the lives of their descendants in the slave societies of the New World." This unique collection offers very high quality images, organized by subject categories. The site is also searchable. "If a user chooses to download images from this website, the authors would appreciate an acknowledgement that gives the image title and reference number, the title of the website, and the names of the sponsoring organizations. For example, "Slave Coffle, Western Sudan, 1879-81; Image Reference Buel-01, as shown on, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library."

The Valley of the Shadow

A view of life during the Civil War, the Valley of the Shadow details life from Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Included are thousands of letters, diaries, newspapers, church records, speeches, census data, and some images. The site is oranized by date and subject, and the images are good quality. Images are available for educational use.