International Digital Collections from Library of Congress – http://international.loc.gov/intldl/find/digital_collections.html
Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:
- What does Ottoman calligraphy look like?
- What was it like to live in Puerto Rico around 1900?
- Where can I find motion pictures of the Spanish American War?
- What did the Russian Empire look like in the times of the last Czars?
This site is a gateway to searchable collections pertaining to culture and history from the Library of Congress that seem to be organized by organizational unit. Some of the notable collections that might help frame story backgrounds include (Descriptions from web site):
Selections from the Naxi Manuscript Collection — This collection features documents that detail the unique cosmology of the Naxi people of the Yunnan Province in southern China. The Naxi shamanistic priests use a distinctive pictographic writing system that is similar to the ancient Egyptian and Mayan writing systems and is the only living pictographic language in the world. This online presentation features 185 manuscripts, a 39½-foot funerary scroll and an annotated catalog of the entire collection.
Selections of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy — This collection presents 373 Arabic calligraphy sheets, ranging from the 9th to the 19th centuries, including examples of calligraphic art – illuminated panels, albums, and poems. In addition to individual calligraphy sheets, the presentation has essays on Ottoman and Persian calligraphic styles, an in-depth look at Qur’anic calligraphic fragments, and an essay discussing some of the Library’s notable Arabic script calligraphy sheets and illuminations.
American Colonization Society Collection Maps of Liberia, 1830-1870 (Liberia) — this collection of Liberia maps includes twenty examples from the American Colonization Society (ACS), organized in 1817 to resettle free black Americans in West Africa. These maps show early settlements in Liberia, indigenous political subdivisions, and some of the building lots that were assigned to settlers. This on-line presentation also includes other nineteenth-century maps of Liberia.
Puerto Rico at the Dawn of the Modern Age: Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century Perspectives (Puerto Rico) — this collection portrays the early history of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico through first-person accounts, political writings, and histories. Among the topics it highlights are the land and its resources, relations with Spain, the competition among political parties, reform efforts, and recollections by veterans of the Spanish-American War. The materials in the collection were published between 1831 and 1929 and consist of 39 political pamphlets, 18 monographs, and 1 journal.
The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures (Spain, Cuba, and the Philippines) — Motion pictures of the Spanish-American War and the subsequent Philippine Revolution produced between 1898 and 1901 are featured in this presentation. The complete collection will include 68 motion pictures and a selection of sound recordings related to the war. The Spanish-American War was the first U.S. war in which the motion picture camera played a role. These films were made by the Edison Manufacturing Company and the American Mutoscope & Biograph Company and consist of actualities filmed in the U.S., Cuba, and the Philippines, showing troops, ships, notable figures, and parades, as well as reenactments of battles and other war-time events.
Posters: Spanish Civil War Posters (Spain) — 124 posters. 1936-1939. Posters sponsored by Republican and anti-Republican groups, trade unions, Catalonian nationalists, and international factions, on themes relating to the causes, conduct, and consequences of the civil war. For potential copyright related reasons, only the thumbnail sized images may display offsite; larger copies are viewable from the research center computers in The Library of Congress.
Prokudin-Gorskii Collection (Russia) — about 1,900 glass plate negatives by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii using three-part color separation technique, with about 100 modern digital color renderings and approximately 2,400 prints mounted in fourteen albums. 1909-1915. Photographic survey of the Russian Empire, showing people, religious architecture, historic sites, industry and agriculture, public works construction, water and railway transportation routes, villages and cities.
Most of these collections can be browsed by topic or title in addition to being searchable by keyword. In addition most of collections also feature useful supplemental materials including essays about either the collection itself or the relevant country or time period. If you’re considering reproducing this material in your book or on your website, be sure to check the “Rights and Reproductions” page of each collection. These will give you guidance but not absolute protection. Even for collections with no known rights restrictions, the Library of Congress will usually stamp “Rights Assessment is Your Responsibility” and the bottom of item records.