Digital Resources & Digital Research Advisory Service
Just because our, and others’, doors are currently closed doesn’t mean that your research and historical study has to stop! The Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives is always open to you, the Cape Ann researcher, just now in a different way.
As before, you can always contact us at Library@CapeAnnMuseum.org with a research inquiry, rights & reproduction request, or donation offer, but with the changing environment, and many of you turning to online resources for the first time, I want to expand our services to include assistance navigating these resources, as well as Digital Research Advisory Service. This means that all you have to do is email us at the above address with a Research Topic of interest or study, and I’ll compile all known digital resources and share them with you as soon possible.
But, if you’re wanting to do some of the groundwork yourself, here are just a few of the amazing, and FREE, resources available to all researchers:
- Fitz Henry Lane Online – Self-promotion first, right? This is THE place to go to learn anything and everything about Fitz. But what you may not realize, based on its name, is that this site is rich in historical documents pertaining to the Cape Ann region. We use these digitized historical documents to supplement the FHL story, but it is an amazing repository of digital material even outside of those contexts. Just take a look at all the great maps, manuscripts, and photographs on the Cape Ann and Gloucester locales! (just click on a subject on the left side of the page). More on FHL Online in a future post, but wanted to make sure you were using this great resource as soon as possible!
- Cape Ann Museum Archives Finding Aids – The Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives houses hundreds of thousands of archival documents, but the core of our collection comes from our 96 (and counting!) major archival collections. This recently updated website shares with you the complete finding aids for the first third of those collections, with more being added everyday. Browse these finding aids to see all the incredibly unique documents the Library & Archives holds. While you’re at it, start making your list of collections you’d like to view once we’re re-opened! Outside of actually browsing the collections, the ‘Biographical Notes’ are great places to brush up on your Cape Ann History.
- Internet Archive – Always my first stop. Called the “Internet Archive,” their mission is to build a digital library of Internet site and other cultural artifacts in digital form. For us, this means a ton of pre-1923 (copyright expired) digitized books! A quick search for “Cape Ann, Massachusetts” and clicking on “texts” in the left column brings back all these great books.
- Hathitrust.org – Very similar to Archive.org but had its origins in a consortium of Research Libraries, so content leans a bit more scholarly than others.
- Google Books – I always say that Google doesn’t have all the answers, but in this case they have most of them. There is going to be content overlap between all these of these sites, but there are unique finds on each as well.
- Sawyer Free Library – Our neighbors in real life, we consider them E-neighbors as well. SFL has done a great job, partnering with the City Archives, to bring tons of digital items you can view from home. From City Directories, to Yearbooks, to maps, their site is easy to use and a great research tool.
- Boston Public Library – Did you know that anyone in Massachusetts can get a BPL card? Now is a great time to register for a free eCard and take advantage of their endless online resources. My favorite, and most used of these resources are their Digitized Newspaper Collections, which includes: 18th & 19th Century Collections of Massachusetts area newspapers as well as more recent papers like the Boston Globe (from 1872 to present!).
- Digital Commonwealth – Managed by BPL, this organization provides access to thousands of images, documents, and recordings that have been digitized by Massachusetts’s libraries, museum, historical societies, and archives. Once completed, this is the site where our Digitized Newspaper Collection will be hosted.
- Library of Congress – Last but definitely not least, Thomas Jefferson’s meager personal library of 6,487 books has now gone digital and grown to over 16 million books (and about 120 million other items)! Not all of these millions have been digitized yet, but a great deal of them can be found here.
This really is just the tip of the iceberg, as there are new pages popping up everyday. So, as mentioned earlier, please do reach out to us with any questions you may have navigating these resources, or simply just to request a compiled list of all digital resources pertaining to your research topic.
Our email open hours are 24/7, 365 at Library@CapeAnnMuseum.org.