NPR: Combining the nation’s digitized libraries in one place

From Laura Sydell at on August 19, 2013:

Buried in the archives of America’s public and academic libraries are historical treasures — old papers, photos and records — that flesh out a detailed picture of our past.

Many libraries are trying to make it easier to find that material by putting digital copies online. But with so many different websites and databases to turn to, it may still require a research degree in Web searching to find anything. This spring, a program launched that aims to put all that great stuff in one place: the .

The DPLA has already drawn scholars like Lincoln Mullen, a graduate student at Brandeis University who is researching the history of religious conversion in the United States. Mullen says the DPLA uncovered some hard-to-find documents at the College of Charleston in South Carolina — by a slave owner, William H.W. Barnwell, in which Barnwell discussed religious instruction to slaves and how the North misunderstood the South in these matters.

Mullen says it would have been really hard to find these documents by doing a general Internet search. “It’s hard to know, apart from … lots and lots of browsing, where those collections are available,” he says. “They’re all fragmented in so many different places.”

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Originally published: August 20, 2013. Last Updated: August 20, 2013.