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Searching Digital Books, Part 2

There certainly is a lot of overlap in the world of digital book collections. Today’s topic, the Digital Public Library of America, claims to be a site that brings different online collections together into a single platform and portal. Translation: they are a website that points to other sites containing digital collections.

How could you use the Digital Public Library of America in your genealogy research? You will find digitized books, digital images and even sound and moving pictures here. Search for places your ancestor lived, occupations, names (it’s always worth a try!), or events that your ancestor lived through. 

The Digital Public Library of America has connected with digital collection sites like the Connecticut Digital Archive, Indiana Memory, and the Minnesota Digital Library, as well as institutions such as the New York Public Library, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Archives. Click HERE to see a list of their partners.

I was surprised to see Internet Archive and Hathitrust listed among DPLA’s partners, or “hubs.” We have discussed each of these sites earlier. You can see how interconnected these digital book sites are.

So why would you want to use the Digital Public Library?

  • The home page is crisp and clean and each of the components of the home page is inviting. 
  • The main search box is easy to find, 
  • You can limit your search results to different formats (books, images, sound, or movies), time periods, places, subjects, or language. 
  • The timeline and geographic search features are fun to use. 
  • I also like their digital exhibits section; the exhibition called Leaving Europe: A New Life in America looks particularly interesting for us genealogists. 
  • They have a wide and varied collection of images, drawing from the New York Public Library and the National Archives among other impressive sources.

Why would you use a different site?

  • I didn’t find their book collection to be as complete as either the Internet Archive or Hathitrust, even though DPA has partnered with each of them.
  • While their collection is growing, my feeling is that other sites are adding continuously, while DPLA adds large collections of images and books less often. I will monitor their “Announcements” section to keep up with this.

As always, there’s no “one-stop-shop” site for digital books or other digital materials. Put the Digital Public Library of America in your genealogy tool box as one more place to keep an eye on, and let me know what gems you find!

Categories: Genealogy

Tags: Genealogy

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