It’s common knowledge that universities often hold amazing pieces in their library collections, from rare books to priceless works of art. Many are available for viewing simply by visiting the university, but many others are not available for public access, or visitors simply don’t have the time or resources to visit in person.
That’s why so many colleges have begun digitizing their collections and putting them online, giving the world access to their amazing resources, and even opening up viewing of fragile or rare pieces that can’t be accessed any other way.
We’ve discovered 10 universities with incredible online collections featuring award-winning photographs, ancient manuscripts and priceless pieces of history.
Clear your day; you’re going to want to spend hours checking out all that these collections have to offer.
Oxford University :
The University of Oxford has an impressive collection of rare and ancient texts that date from the 16th century and even earlier. The university recently announced plans  to digitize 1.5 million pages of the texts in their collection, along with pages from the Vatican. This online collection will include early printed books from Rome, Greek manuscripts including works by Homer, Plato, Sophocles, and Hippocrates, as well as Hebrew manuscripts from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The project is expected to take about four years. If you can’t wait, check out Oxford’s existing online collections , including the John Johnson Collection , Early Manuscripts , and the Cairo Genizah Collection , which shares 280,000 fragments of Hebrew manuscripts in searchable form.
Stanford University :
Stanford’s online collections offer a little bit of everything, with lots of history, unusual documents, award-winning photography, and more. Our favorites include the Douglas Menuez Photography Collection  featuring tech stars like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, Joint Committee on Atomic Energy  that shares documents on peacetime uses of atomic energy, The Super-Enlightenment Project  exploring the dark side of enlightenment, and the Women Art Revolution  collection that chronicles the feminist art movement of the 1970s.
Harvard University :
Harvard has made it a point to open its collections, using it as a way to share Harvard’s intellectual wealth with the rest of the world. The university’s online collections have more than 2.3 million digitized pages in six subject-specific categories. Check out the Islamic Heritage Project , Immigration to the United States , and Women Working . Plus, you can visit Harvard Art Museums  to find a searchable collection of art within the university’s collection.
University of Texas :
If you’re curious about historical maps from around the world, be sure to check out the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection. This online collection features maps of the world, U.S., and every continent. You’ll be able to view maps of the world through history, including those that share the Age of Discovery  and the Spread of Colonization . The University of Texas also offers an interesting News and Newspapers  collection with historical, searchable newspapers from around the world.
Duke University :
Duke University’s online collections include amazing photographs, ads, historic documents, and even sheet music. Some of the most popular collections are Ad*Access , with historic and charming ads from days gone by, Documents from the Women’s Liberation Movement , handpicked from holdings in Duke’s Special Collections Library, Slave Voices , sharing the voice and perspective of African Americans from slavery to freedom, and the Duke Papyrus Archive  with nearly 1,400 papyri from ancient Egypt.
Dickinson College :
We’ve all read about U.S. history in textbooks, but not everyone has had the chance to learn about American heritage from those who lived it. Thanks to Dickinson College, now everyone has the opportunity to explore the history of the U.S. from the late 18th century to the early 20th century, straight from the books, letters, and personal accounts of people who were there. You’ll find more than 34,500 pages of text on American politics, slavery, the Civil War, medicine, and much more.
Through the Penn Museum, the University of Pennsylvania offers incredible access to archaeological and anthropological artifacts. The museum itself has collected in the neighborhood of 1 million objects, and has been able to share 665,000 objects online with 67,000 images. Most of these items must be viewed in person to truly appreciate them, but you can get a taste by seeing what what museum has online. Some of the highlights of the Penn Museum online collection include the Sphinx of Ramses II  and the Statue of Fudo . The collection is organized into different themes, so you can explore everything from the Egyptian Afterlife  to Modern Day Iraq .
With the help of several other schools, Berkeley is able to host the Digital Scriptorium, an image database of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. This digital collection is so special because it shares manuscripts that are not good candidates for reproduction, meaning, it’s not likely you’d be able to see them any other way except within their individual libraries. So far, the Digital Scriptorium hosts 5,300 manuscript records and 24,300 images.
Columbia University :
Visit the Columbia University Libraries Digital Collections to get access to amazing artifacts from history, including papers, reports, architectural imagery, models from New York theater and opera productions, and so much more. In the E-Book Digitization Program , you’ll find digital access to hundreds of public domain books within the Columbia University collection, offering access to fragile, rare, and unique items you might not see otherwise. Another interesting collection is the Joseph Urban Stage Design Models & Documents Stabilization & Access Project  that offers a look into stage sets from New York theater productions between 1914 and 1933. Plus, you can explore ancient history through theAdvanced Papyrological Information System  with papyri and ostraca from the period 400 B.C. to 800 A.D.
Cornell University :
Cornell Library’s Windows on the Past shares an impressive resource of digital repositories and collections. Although some are available for Cornell University access only, there are many more that are open and very interesting the peruse. There are excellent collections with slavery resources, including the Samuel May Anti-Slavery Collection , Samuel May Anti-Slavery Manuscript Collection , and The Friend of Man . Plus, you’ll find the library’s Historical Monographs , and The Making of America , with primary sources from American social history from the Antebellum period through Reconstruction.
This post originally appeared on the Online Education Database (OEDb ).
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