What’s better than a website that gives access to more than 16 million digitized items? A website that does it for free. That’s just what the Digital Public Library of America does. DPLA is constantly growing and fast becoming a "must visit" website for free genealogy resources.
What Is the Digital Public Library of America?
DPLA is a project involving more than 1,600 libraries, archives, and museums across the U.S. They range from the big ones, like the Smithsonian and the New York Public Library, all the way to the little ones, like the Starke County (Indiana) Historical society. Together, these libraries have contributed more than 16 million digitized items, such as photographs, newspapers, posters, and diaries.
Did I mention it's free?
DPLA doesn't have just an index of the items. It has links to where you can find the items online. If you find it on DPLA, there will be a link to the image. Just look for the "View Object" link and it will take you right to it.
Finding Hidden Gems
One of the neat things about DPLA is that you can find items in places that you wouldn't think to look. Would you think to look in the Tennessee State Library & Archives for a letter from someone in the 7th Ohio Cavalry? It wouldn't be my first place to look, that's for sure. But a simple search on DPLA turned up this gem.
It also turns up items that you likely won't find in a regular Google search.
What to Look for
Look for things that you would look for in any library. Don't limit yourself to just searching for your ancestor's name. Think about:
- Where your ancestor lived
- Events in his/her life
- Organizations (fraternal, military, etc.)
You never know what you'll find!
Here's a short video to introduce you to using DPLA:
DPLA is a site that you'll want to add to your list of "regular" websites for your genealogy. Give it a try and let me know what you discover!
Want more free genealogy resources? Download my guide "10 Essential Free Genealogy Resources":