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In the pre-Internet days, if you wanted to see a historical collection (if it was freely available to the public — including the ones which are radioactive), then you had to travel to where the collection was located, and view it in person. But now that we are in the Brave New World of the Internet, everything is now slowly being digitized, so that anyone with a decent Internet collection can view them. Seeing these collections up close and personal enables you to take a peek inside that person’s life and mind, and see their thoughts and reasoning. It can be a fascinating process.

Today on Cool Websites & Apps, we are going to take a look at 5 online sources where you can view digitized historical collections 7 Historical Websites That Let Us Go Back & Take Another Peek At History 7 Historical Websites That Let Us Go Back & Take Another Peek At History Read More . 3 sites dedicated to one collection each, and the remaining two are august institutions who are going all out to get their collections on display online.

Darwin Manuscripts

We start with Charles Darwin, whose book, “On The Origin Of Species“, established an evolutionary theory called “natural selection”, and that all species of life descended over time from common ancestors. He is also famous for his five year voyage around the world on HMS Beagle, including a visit to the Galapagos Islands, fame which led him to be buried in Westminster Abbey, close to Isaac Newton.

This site shows his scientific manuscripts, including manuscripts for his “On The Origin Of Species” book.

Digital Einstein Papers

Virtually everyone on the planet has heard of Albert Einstein, probably the most famous scientist in history. He developed the “General Theory of Relativity“, received a Nobel Prize for physics, produced hundreds of scientific papers, and was widely considered the greatest genius ever, so much so that when he died in 1955, his brain was taken and dissected for examination.

This site hosts over 30,000 documents relating to Einstein’s life, from his birth certificate to letters sent to colleagues. My one and only complaint about this site is that it does not show the original documents — rather transcribed pages instead (plus it is currently only up to 1923, which shows it is still a work in progress). Still, it is nonetheless fascinating.

The Francis Crick Papers

Francis Crick, along with his colleague James Watson, made what was arguably the greatest scientific discovery of the 20th century — the double helix. You may know it as DNA, the one thing which is tripping up criminals everywhere, as they leave their saliva, hair, and skin lying around. The genetic code is leading us to understand the human body better, and to scientific advances such as genetic engineering, and the mapping of the human genome.

The design of the website is not exactly great, but the manuscripts are first class, in high definition format.

The British Library

Established in 1973, the British Library holds over 170 million items, and is the largest library in the world, if you rank libraries by number of items catalogued. And now some of those collections are starting to come online, so you can enjoy them from the comfort of your own home. You can turn the pages of old books, and view online exhibitions, such as maps of London, or original prints of Victorian Britain.

Library of Congress

Last but not least, we come to the Library of Congress, which is another famous world library based in the United States 10 Things You Can Do For Fun & Learning On The Library Of Congress Online 10 Things You Can Do For Fun & Learning On The Library Of Congress Online The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. 33 million books (838 miles of shelves) is quite a lot of reading. Just to boggle your mind with statistics, 10,000 new items are... Read More . It houses every aspect of American culture (including archiving Twitter tweets The US Library Of Congress Undertakes Massive Project To Archive All Tweets [Updates] The US Library Of Congress Undertakes Massive Project To Archive All Tweets [Updates] There’s a story in each 140 character tweet we send out. Collect 400 million of them each day, and you have the story of a country. The Library of Congress certainly thinks so as it... Read More ), as well as books, newspapers, audio recordings, video recordings, photographs, and a whole lot more.

These are only 5 digital historical sources, but there are many more out there in the world. Which ones are your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.

  1. Saikat
    December 23, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    I stumble across and his hardcore history series. Engrossing podcasts.

    • Mark O'Neill
      December 24, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      Yes, I have been listening to Dan Carlin too. But isn't his hardcore history series finished now?

  2. A41202813GMAIL
    December 17, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    ARCHIVE.ORG Have Invaluable Free Downloads.

    Unfortunately They Do Not Test All The Software That Is Available On Their Site.

    I Downloaded Some WOLFENSTEIN Game Versions ( Most Were Really Good ) But 1 Of Them Was Some Software Unrelated To The File Name Title, That Installed Of Lot Of Crap On My PC.


    • A41202813GMAIL
      December 17, 2014 at 12:10 pm


      *A Lot Of...

    • Mark O'Neill
      December 24, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      That's interesting because I heard somewhere that the site checks stuff they put on. Maybe in the vast volume of stuff they post, one or two slip through the net inadvertently.

      I guess it is bound to happen (although I am not excusing it - I'm sure getting it off your PC was a pain in the neck).

  3. batchelorboy55
    December 16, 2014 at 7:17 am

    Also checkout the National Library of Australia's Trove

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