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Digital Public Library of America Launches

The Boat Builders, Winslow Homer

Homer, Winslow. The Boat Builders, oil on panel, 1873 (Indianapolis Museum of Art).

Credit:

Indianapolis Museum of Art, Martha Delzell Memorial Fund, (54.10)

BOSTON, Mass. (April 18, 2013) —The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) was launched today, providing public access to over 2.4 million digital books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and other resources critical to humanities scholarship and learning. 

The DPLA, which can be accessed at dp.la, received a $1 million award  from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in July 2012 to help fund an ambitious endeavor to bring together universities, libraries, archives, museums, government agencies, and other cultural heritage institutions to develop a unified gateway into vast digital collections dispersed across the country.

The launch represents the culmination of the first phase of a two-year pilot project to develop the DPLA's technical infrastructure and establish a collaborative network of partners that view the site as a valuable global access point to their digital collections.

A public launch and reception scheduled today at the Boston Public Library had to be cancelled because of the Boston Marathon bombings, which occurred near the library.  

The new DPLA site includes digital collections held by a variety of institutions, from national research libraries to local historical societies. In the last month, seven major institutions--the National Archives and Records Administration, the Smithsonian Institution, ARTstor, the New York Public Library, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, the University of Virginia, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign--have expressed their support for the project and announced that they will make portions of their rich digital collections available through the DPLA portal. These institutions join six other state and regional digital libraries that have also contributed digital materials to the project in partnership with local institutions.

Samples of what DPLA visitors can discover include:

  • Over 1.2 million items from the National Archives, including the work of renowned Civil War photographer Mathew Brady, founding documents of the United States, and posters distributed during World War II.
  • High-resolution images of artworks drawn from the Walters Art Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and Yale University.
  • Manuscripts, maps, and illustrations that shed light on Colonial America, the American Revolution, and the early history of the United States.
  • Extensive collections relevant to the history of science, including over 111,000 volumes from the Biodiversity Heritage Library and some of the earliest photographs taken of the moon.

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About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

Media Contacts: Paula Wasley at (202) 606-8424 or pwasley@neh.gov