One of the most exciting aspects of pursuing Humanities research in the digital age is the prodigious and ever-growing quantity of source material available for free online. This includes books, periodicals, broadsheets and ephemera printed before 1923, collections of medieval manuscripts and archival manuscript sources. Single leaves from these online sources can be used as illustrations in publications and presentations. Material that within living memory was once difficult to locate and required on-site visits to study, or long waits for interlibrary loans to procure, is now available in seconds with a few clicks of the mouse. The scope of this material is so vast that a single post cannot do it justice, so this will be the first of several blog posts on the subject. Below are some of the prime sources for locating and accessing such content.
Google books-many things you are looking for or will find useful will come up in a search of google books. You can customize these searches by limiting them (using the “Search tools” tab) to e-books (these will be complete), books with previews (these will not provide a complete view, but will often show tables of contents and indices, which can be used for requesting chapters to order electronically from Interlibrary Loan), and year or range of years of publication. You can also limit your search to magazines.
Hathitrust is a partnership of academic & research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world. UConn is a member of Hathitrust, so our users can download items that are available “full view”, and you can limit your search to these items
Internet Archive–a vast repository of print books and journals useful to scholars, from early printed books to indispensable classics such as Pastor’s History of the Popes. Its usefulness can be illustrated by a recent experience: after reading a new biography of the poet Marianne Moore, I wanted to read one of her early poems. Since Moore often revised or omitted early poems in later anthologies, I was fortunate to find the poem on Internet Archive, which had scanned the very rare first collection of her poems, published in London in 1921.
Europeana–millions of books, newspapers, letters, diaries and archival papers from a range of Europe’s leading galleries, libraries, archives and museums
Zentrales Verzeichnis Digitalisierter Drucke-For medieval manuscripts and books or journals printed in German or published in other languages in places where German was spoken, this is a marvelous resource. (Subsequent posts will include portals for digital content in other European languages)
National Libraries often offer digitized runs of historic newspapers and periodicals, sometimes in unexpected places. For example, the Austrian State Library has historic German–language periodicals from regions of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy that are now separate countries, such as Bohemia and Moravia (Current Czech Republic). Links to National Libraries in Europe can be found at
National libraries outside of Europe can be found with a google search.
Bear in mind that the portals and points of access that exist at this writing will very likely be transformed, replaced or augmented over time. The process of locating full-text online resources is dynamic and ever-changing. That is part of the challenge, and part of the fun.
More information about free full-text available online can be found at
If you would like assistance in finding source material online, do not hesitate to contact Michael Young, Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org