The Internet contains many wonderful resources for researching history. It also contains a lot of unsupported opinions, misguided and misleading one-sided screeds, and downright falsehoods. Peer-edited online encyclopedias, while usually reliable, are subject vandalism and change without warning. What is a poor student of history to do?
Thankfully, we’ve sampled hundreds of history websites to bring you this collection of some of the most compelling, reliable, and helpful resources available today. These sites will whet your appetite for history. So if you’re gathering source material, looking to plan a project, or need some guidance with writing process, you’ve come to the right place.
Tricks of the Historian’s Trade
- Bowdoin College provides a comprehensive guide to “Reading, Writing, and Researching for History.” This resource is full of helpful hints aimed at college students and even includes a short version for students in a hurry.
- The Dartmouth College Writing Program offers helpful tips and tricks for writing history papers. This site also includes links to helpful research sites and other resources for non-History majors.
- H-Net Discussion Networks is the primary online space for historians to gather to discuss the latest research, teaching, and controversies both new and old. Your history professor is probably here. The archive is searchable by keyword, so if you want to know what the professionals are saying about your topic, here’s where you go.
Multi-Regional and Multi-Era Research Sites
- The British Museum, the granddaddy of museums, offers an impressive array of original documents and published papers online.
- The Internet Ancient History Sourcebook boasts an enormous collection of original texts and public domain sources. This site features sections on ancient, medieval, and modern history, as well as subject-matter collections like women’s history and Chinese studies.
- Spartacus Educational is home to a huge archive of historical information on a wide range of subjects. While the homepage is a bit haphazardly organized, the subject pages are extensive and easy to navigate. Articles are extensively linked so you can check the sources.
- Afriterra.org maintains a fine collection of historic maps of Africa and contains many high-resolution images.
- The African Activist Archive is resource for information about American activism against apartheid and colonialism from the 1950s through the 1990s.
- The African Online Digital Library presents “Africa Past and Present,” an ongoing series of podcasts about African history and current events from scholars of Africa.
- Aluka describes itself as a “digital library of scholarly resources from and about Africa.” This informative site includes articles and primary source documents about contemporary Africa, African independence movements, and ancient African history.
Ancient History through the Middle Ages
- ETANA (Electronic Tools and Ancient Near Eastern Archives), offers a collection of scholarly articles about the ancient Near East. Go here to read the latest articles from historians.
- The Museum with No Frontiers presents “Discover Islamic Art,” an online exhibition that includes features and information about Islamic art through the late middle ages.
- The Duke University Papyrus Archive has made available hundreds of papyrus documents from ancient and classical Egypt in translation online. Topics range from recipes, to deeds of sale, to personal letters.
- English Medieval Architecture offers a close study of carpentry and building technology of the Late Middle Ages.
- The Illustrated History of the Roman Empire provides maps, essays, pictures and more about all periods of the Roman Empire.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History is not to be missed. This impressive collection of images and information covers almost every time period, from cave paintings through Roy Lichtenstein, and almost every region of the world.
- NetSerf is an enormous collection of links about medieval history, covering every conceivable topicâ€”Arthuriana, Fashion, Philosophyâ€”just about everything you can think of has a link here.
- The Online Medieval & Classical Library features translations of important works from the Medieval and Classical periods.
- The Perseus Digital Library has thousands of primary and secondary sources about ancient Greece and Rome from hundreds of authors.
- Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales is dedicated to the preservation and study of medieval castles. This site includes virtual tours, scholarly papers, and an image archive.
- TRISMEGISTOS offers primary sources from the Nile Valley dating from 800 BC through AD 800. The resources are helpfully cataloged to facilitate research.
- The University of Pittsburgh’s Images of Medieval Art and Architecture offers a searchable collection of French and English medieval art and architecture.
- The Central Intelligence Agency’s China Collection is part of the Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room. Browse the CIA’s archive of National Intelligence Estimates regarding China going back about seventy years.
- The Islamic World to 1600 provides a detailed political history of the Islamic world from the founding of Islam through the classical period. These articles from the University of Calgary are extensively linked.
- Japanese Historical Maps offers over 1100 digitized maps and images from the seventeenth century up through the twentieth century. These resources are searchable by time period, region, and artist.
- MANAS, UCLA’s clearinghouse of all things India, has extensive art and history sections with original documents and articles.
- The Metadata Database of Old Japanese Photographs is an extensive collection of photos from the dawn of photography through the Meiji period.
- The Silk Road Project explores the cultural and financial along the storied route from China to Europe from the first century AD through the seventeenth century. This resource contains maps, art exhibits, original documents, and informative web pages.
- Southeast Asia Visions maintains an interesting collection of European accounts of travel in pre-modern Southeast Asia.
- Washington State University’s Discovery and Reformation Gallery, as part of the “World Civilizations Internet Classroom and Anthology” project, this source offers a nice overview of the Age of Discovery and the Reformation, with lecture notes, maps, and primary sources.
- The University of Maryland’s Early Modern Women Database features primary and secondary sources concerning the varied experiences of women from the fourteenth century up through the modern age.
- Lectures on 20th Century Europe showcases 16 full-text lectures on the political, military, and intellectual happenings of this most eventful century. This source also includes links to other digitized resources.
- Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution, an online resource maintained by George Mason University and the City University of New York, boasts an extensive collection of French Revolution-related articles and sources.
- The Uffizi Gallery site houses online samples and information about the art of the famed Italian museum.
- The Waters of Rome , part of the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, contains maps, timeline, and all the information you could have ever wanted about medieval Italian sewage systems. Don’t miss this “cartographic history of nearly 2800 years of water infrastructure and urban development in Rome.”
History of the Americas
- Ancient Mesoamerican Civilizations has sections on the writing systems, politics, and religions of the Aztec, Maya, Zapotec, and Mixtec civilizations.
- Harvard University’s Latin American Pamphlets is a unique collection of political pamphlets from nineteenth and twentieth century Latin America. These resources cover the independence movements, social movements, and Church-State relationships of just about every country between the Rio Grande and Tierra del Fuego.
- The Getty Museum’s Mexico From Empire to Revolution Gallery features information, maps, photographs and artifacts from 1841 through 1910.
United States History
- Civil Rights Special Collection offers archival footage and interviews about the Civil Rights era.
- Duke University’s Primary Sources on the Internetis a huge online library of letters, diaries, and photographs which includes a featured section from
The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture on women’s experiences during the Civil War.
- Civilwarphotogallery.com has collected over 1500 photographs of Civil War-era politicians, soldiers, families, and locations.
- The Official Colonial Williamsburg Site presents a nice little trove of information concerning daily life during colonial and revolutionary times.
- The Digital History Project at the University of Houston includes an online textbook, interactive timeline, and selected original documents.
- Events Leading to the Civil War Timeline provides an annotated and comprehensive list of events leading up the American Civil War, starting in all the way back in 1619.
- The History Placeâ€”Vietnam War presents a timeline, supporting documents, and analysis from this controversial time in America’s history.
- The Library of Congress, established in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest cultural institution. Much of its immense collection of primary sources has been digitized. Includes the
American Folklife Center and The Center for the Book.
- The National Archives is the go-to place for government records from throughout U.S. History. Results of the 1890 Census? Uncle Bob’s military record? It’s all here.
- The National Security Archive specializes in compiling and publishing declassified government documents. It is a rich source for resources on national security issues from the Cold War through the Iraq War.
- Native American Document Project works to be a clearinghouse for documenting Federal policy towards Native Americans.
- Second World War this comprehensive guide to the events and people involved in the Second World War includes maps, timelines, and original documents.
- Texas Tech University’s Vietnam Center and Archive provides an online gallery complete with maps, documents, and photos from the Vietnam War Era.