Digital 19c Collections

Digital 19c Collections

Following is a list (always in progress) of archives that offer full-texts or images in the public domain, available for research projects. Many seem to be continually growing so may be worth consulting periodically. The list is getting long enough that I’ve divided into two categories, those that primarily feature images and those that are mostly text.


British Library Images Online — book covers, book illustrations, flora, cycling, Christmas, maps, and much much more…over one million images available

Bodleian Collection of Julia Margaret Cameron photographs — 112 photographs, dated and sourced, in high resolution and zoomable

Charles Booth’s London — “enables you to search the catalogue of over 450 original notebooks from the Inquiry into Life and Labour in London (1886-1903), view 41 digitised notebooks and explore the London poverty maps”

Database of Mid-Victorian wood-engraved Illustration (for real!)

Digital Comics Museum — public domain “Golden Age” comics, downloadable

Folger Shakespeare Library — 80,000+ digital images of literary art (e.g. book illustrations), free to use under a Creative Commons license

Library of Congress — includes prints, photographs, maps, and other images, as well as text

London Street Views of the 1840s — courtesy of the Museum of London, and a project still in progress

New York Public Library, Public Domain Collection — 180,000+ items (images and texts), downloadable, with no restrictions on use, and a statement saying they hope you will do all kinds of creative things they can’t even foresee with what is available here

New York Public Library, Maps Collection — a subset of the public domain collection, these 20,000 maps are downloadable/useable under a Creative Commons license

Punch Magazine Cartoon Archive — searchable by keyword/artist, an archive of cartoons since the magazine began; images may be copied/pasted with watermark for free, but require fees to get images without watermark

Rijksmuseum — The Rijksstudio platform allows you to use images from this Amsterdam museum’s vast collection

Victorian Britain at the British Library — posters, newspapers, and illustrations

Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive — page images of all the work by four prominent 19th c. artists, sorted by illustrator and play

Victorian Popular Culture — ephemera and collections to browse having to do with everything from seances to moving images (N.B. you may have access through an institutional library; try using not just the main login screen, but also the three icons for alternate logins, which will pop you to your own institutional login form if you have subscription access)

Vincent van Gogh Letters — the entirety of his known correspondence, fully annotated, with English translations, and many of the letters with attached sketches

Wellcome Images — the Wellcome Library announces: “over 100,000 high resolution images including manuscripts, paintings, etchings, early photography and advertisements are now freely available” under a Creative Commons license

William Blake Archive — includes texts and images, and will call up all variants for comparisons

Yale Center for British Art — tens of thousands of searchable, high-res images, available for reproduction

Hilary Davidson has developed an incredibly useful site, Free Academic Images, which is an annotated list of links to many places (museums, private collections, etc) that contain images available for academic use.

TEXT ARCHIVES (though if they archive periodicals, they may include cover art and illustrations)

Australian newspapers archive — archive includes multiple newspapers and begins in 1803, searchable by paper and/or year

Avant-garde and modernist magazines — a clearinghouse site that has links to databases and resources, individual titles, and more

Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine — list of links to digitized images of volumes, useful if you know what volume you want to browse

The British Newspaper Archive (via the British Museum)

The Carlyle Letters Online — letters of both Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle

The Charles Dickens Letters Project — “all the correspondence of Charles Dickens which has come to light since 2002, the year in which the final volume of the Pilgrim Edition of The Letters of Charles Dickens was published. The bulk of Dickens’s letters, published in the Pilgrim Edition, are NOT available to the general public free of charge (but are available online through subscription).”

The Collected Letters of Hannah More — a new project, to which letters will be added in ongoing fashion; currently contains just a start

The Curran Index — dedicated to identifying the writers of anonymous articles in 19th c. British periodicals

Dickens novels scans of original monthly installments (via various scholarly organizations; see also Victorian Serial Novels, below, for more Dickens entries, not repeated here):

Dickens Journals Online — includes full runs of All the Year Round, Household Words, and the Household Words Almanac; scanned volumes, also transcribed

Digital Dada Library Collection — includes runs of periodicals as well as ephemera related to particular authors

Discovering Literature: Romantics and Victorians — a British Library database of 19th century materials

Discovering Sherlock Holmes — includes A Scandal in Bohemia, The Adventures of the Speckled Band, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Final Problem, and Sherlock Holmes Adventures

Ellis Island database — search passenger arrival records (names will return spelling variants) to see passenger records, images of ships, and ship manifests where available

Enslaved: Peoples of the Historical Slave Trade — “Explore or reconstruct the lives of individuals who were enslaved, owned slaves, or participated in the historical trade.”

The European Library — newspapers searchable by date, country, and/or newspaper title

Explore Archives and Manuscripts — British Library archives, including personal/family papers, manuscripts, India Office records, and other materials, searchable by category tags (e.g. “Asian Biography”) as well as keywords

Google News Search Archive — includes many 19th c. newspapers (not all material archived here is public domain, but many of the older papers are)

Hardy’s Correspondents — working to digitize some 5000 letters written to Thomas Hardy (Jan 2021 tally: 100 letters currently available)

Hathitrust Digital Library — millions of out-of-copyright titles from libraries worldwide, digitized for reading/download

Home of UK Legislation

India Office Family Search History — marriage, birth, baptism, death, and burial records culled from India Office records

Internet Archive — books, movies, music, and more…free and downloadable (I cannot attest to any copyright caretaking in terms of this site)

Internet Library of Early Journals — includes the Annual Register, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, The Builder, Gentleman’s Magazine, Notes and Queries, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society; use “search” or “browse” tabs in left toolbar

Legacies of British Slave-ownership — browsable and searchable documents relating to the British people and their estates that benefitted from the slave-ownership throughout the British empire

Library of Congress Newspaper Archive — 1836-1922, newspapers from multiple U.S. cities/states

Nelson Brothers (of New Hampshire) — collection of juvenilia and home-made magazines, as well as family ephemera

New York Public Library, Public Domain Collection — 180,000+ items, downloadable, with no restrictions on use, and a statement saying they hope you will do all kinds of creative things they can’t even foresee with what is available here

Old Weather: Whaling — digitized whaling logbooks, from multiple whaling museums: project is asking for citizen scientists to help transcribe data

One More Voice — “recovering non-European contributions from nineteenth-century British imperial and colonial archives”; contents currently focus on those working with the Livingstone expeditions in Africa

Olive Schreiner Letters Online

The Pulp Magazine Project — includes a fantastic “hub” page with links to dozens of magazines that have old issues available online

Ruskin Library — the works of John Ruskin, online

The Ships List — searchable passenger lists, ships’ photos, at-sea weddings database, immigration reports, advertisements, Illustrated London News articles…a huge collection of databases and ephemera relating to 19th century emigration (much of it transcribed rather than PDFs of originals)

Submarine Cable Route Maps — maps of the underwater cable lines laid across the Atlantic beginning in 1857

Transatlantic Slave Trade Database — contains information on over 35,000 slave trade voyages

Victorian Short Fiction Project — short stories collected from 19th century periodicals

Victorian Serial Novels — links to half a dozen by Dickens, plus one Trollope and one Thackeray

Victorian Women Writers Project — full-texts by 19c. women writers

Vincent van Gogh Letters — the entirety of his known correspondence, fully annotated, with English translations, and many of the letters with attached sketches


Punch: fantastic, searchable archive of images from Punch magazine, which may be used free in presentations, etc., with a watermark, though require a fee for print reproduction or to download without a watermark

Queen Victoria’s Journals Online


Dickens Universe Resources Page

ARCHIVES IN PROGRESS. Following are mentions of projects that are in process and that are worth keeping tabs on. Links are to announcements of projects, just to keep titles in people’s minds. Please feel free to contact me if there are updates, or any of the following go live as archives, so that I can change links to the archives themselves.

Broadside Press (Detroit) — archive of African American poetry

Romantic Illustration Network