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Many libraries, archives, and museums have digitized primary source materials and put them in digital collections. Online directories help identify the location of primary sources and digital repositories which offer digitized resources. In addition to using specialized directories, such as those highlighted below, try a general Web search when seeking primary sources.
Find Primary Sources: Using Online Collections
The openly available collections below help researchers efficiently locate materials among millions of digitized materials and resources in archives and special collections. Many materials are free online. Some contain books only; others have videos, images, and more.
A collection of freely available, academically-oriented, digital resources including ebooks, online journals, audio files, images, movies, and reference texts
Collection ranges from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry recordings, to original music contributed by users. Includes non-English audio options.
Find full-text ebooks and periodicals from major libraries and other contributors as well as books with only partial views or basic bibliographic information supplied. Though well-reasoned complaints abound regarding digitization, metadata consistency, dates, classifications, and more, for the persistent researcher, this collection is stunningly useful. Limit search to "Full View only" in the "Advanced Search" mode (link supplied above.)
Library of Congress Digital Collections
Find maps, photos, digital music scores, presidential papers, and so much more in this amalgamation of historic documents, images and media related to U.S. History.
Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)
The Digital Public Library of America brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums. Search primary sources from all over the country through DPLA.
Access millions of digital objects: film,photos, paintings, sound recordings, maps, manuscripts, books,newspapers and archival papers. Selected from already digitized resources available in Europe's museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections.
Conceived as a collaboration of the thirteen universities of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and the University of California system to establish a repository for these universities to archive and share digitized collections, including books, journals, and more. This impressive collection, with all legally eligible texts open to the public, contains millions of titles. HathiTrust public domain content is discoverable through the Auraria Library's home page search box.
Online Public Access (OPA)
Simultaneously search multiple online resources from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, NARA.
A directory of open access academic repositories offering a wide range of text, media, and audio materials in digital format including oral history collections.
Pacific Rim Digital Library Alliance
Twenty-eight academic libraries surrounding the Pacific have joined together to improve access to scholarly resources. Search here to find links to full-text resources from these libraries digital repositories. Contents include theses, images, historic documents, and more.
World Digital Library (WDL)
The WDL makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from all countries and cultures. From the Library of Congress.
Primary resources may reside in any number of different special collections or archives worldwide. ArchiveGrid is a discovery service that provides information about the holdings of those special collections, helping to unearth historical documents, personal papers, family histories and more owned by libraries, museums, and historical societies around the globe.
Colorado Archives and Museum Collections
Below are Colorado primary source collections. Some offer materials online. Many more items can be discovered by visiting in person or talking to a staff member.
Special Collections & Digital Initiatives at Auraria Library
Located on the 2nd floor of the Auraria Library, Special Collections offers many resources of interest, including materials related to the Auraria campus, including campus buildings. The archivist can help!
Rocky Mountain Online Archive
Information about archival collections in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. The online finding aids give detailed descriptions of historical primary source materials located at the different repositories.
Denver Public Library's (DPL) Genealogy, African American, and Western History
DPL is home to a a premier collection of print and digital materials on western and Colorado history as well as knowledgeable and helpful librarians.
Colorado State Library
The State Publications Library provides Colorado residents with access to information produced by the state government as well as answering questions related to state information. Publications created by state agencies cover a wide variety of topics.
History Colorado: Stephen H. Hart Library
Search the Hart Library's catalog to discover the rich holdings of the library associated with Colorado's historical society, History Colorado.
Colorado State Archive
This is the state's repository of Colorado legal and historical records. Includes audiotapes of Colorado House and Senate debates, floor proceedings, House / Senate Committee Hearings, House / Senate standing and interim committee meetings.
Mountain West Digital Library
A search portal for digital collections about the Mountain West region supplying free access to hundreds of thousands of resources from universities, colleges, public libraries, museums, historical societies, government agencies, counties, and municipalities in Utah, Nevada, and other parts of the U.S. West.
National Archives: Rocky Mountain Region.
This collection is part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Federal agency that, by law, preserves and provides access to permanently valuable, noncurrent Federal records with historical, legal, or fiscal value.
Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library
This is a branch of the Denver Public Library system. In addition to useful research materials, an array of exhibits and lectures are regularly offered.
Denver Art Museum Library Catalog
The Denver Art Museum Library is a specialized research resource for museum staff, volunteers, and visiting scholars. Non-staff may use materials in the library. Open to the public by appointment at 720-913-0100.