Archives provide endless amounts of information about virtually any topic, but who wants to sit in a stuffy library or even worse,‚  library basement, looking through record after record to find what you’re looking for.

The world wide web has revolutionized they way we do things today, and that includes archiving. Now with a simple search and click of the mouse, primary documents, sometimes fragile, are right at our fingertips. Here’s a listing of some of the most useful and interesting archives or databases we’ve come across.

LIFE photo archive hosted by Google

The LIFE photo archive hosted by Google ranks as one of my favorites. There are over a million photographs available by simply going to the Google images page. Also, LIFE archived photos will automatically generate when you add :life to any keyword. Some of these photos have never been published before and date back to the 1750s. The photos are organized by decade or category. and are further broken down into subcategories such as people, places, events, sports or culture.‚  The LIFE photo archives are simple to navigate and include a wealth of iconic images.

Library of Congress – Digital Collections

The Digital Collections of the Library of Congress are more than just photo archives. One can search through historic newspapers, over 1 million digital photographs, first person veteran accounts of their service, international materials and presentations, legislative records, historic maps, audio and video from American History & Culture, collections of performance art materials, and archived web sites.‚  Each set of archived material is divided into categories, which makes a specific topic easy to locate. In this dismal economy, who needs to take a trip to Washington when they can access the same treasures online?

Reboot Stereophonics – Archived music, discussions & articles

Reboot Stereophonics collects information pertaining to the Jewish culture. One section of the site, Stereophonics, exhibits lost Jewish audio from music archives as well as long-forgotten albums that were discovered in obscure thrift shops. Reboot Inspired is a collection of articles defining the Jewish identity and “rebooting” the traditions to make that identity resonate in people’s lives today. Another section of the site, Guilt & Pleasure, is a collection of different discussions that occurred regarding Jewish issues and the community. The entire Reboot Stereophics archives help to promote the healthy conversation about the Jewish identity today.

Internet Archive

Another great starting place is the Internet Archive. This is like the hub of all archives. There are sections for moving images, live music, texts, audio, software and even web pages. Using the Wayback Machine, you can surf through 85 billion web pages archived from 1996. Related projects and additional archive websites are also listed. Another great tool is the open education resources. Lectures, videos, free courses and supplemental videos are all available for personal use. There’s also a database of legal downloads including audio books, poetry, collections of the Grateful Dead and more.


Although more of a database instead of archive, Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is the Internet’s largest collection of movies, past and present. IMDb has rapidly grown over the years and now includes more than 6,000 full-length feature films and TV episodes that can be watched for free. Up-to-the minute news stories are also generated in their news feeds from a wide variety of entertainment publications. This is my go-to archive when I can’t remember what actor stared in what movie,etc. is a good starting place if you’re looking for archived material. The National Archives Records Administration is the organization that is charged with holding Federal Records including those famous documents such as the Declaration of Independence along with public records such as military records. On the site you can access special online exhibits and featured documents such as the Emancipation Proclamation and the Magna Carta. There are also links to genealogy sites if you’re looking to search your personal history.

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