About the Collections
American Memory is a gateway to the Library of Congress’s vast resources of digitized American historical materials. Comprising more than 9 million items that document U.S. history and culture, American Memory is organized into more than 100 thematic collections based on their original format, their subject matter, or who first created, assembled, or donated them to the Library.
The original formats include manuscripts, prints, photographs, posters, maps, sound recordings, motion pictures, books, pamphlets, and sheet music. Each online collection is accompanied by a set of explanatory features designed to make the materials easy to find, use, and understand. Collections may be browsed individually, searched individually (including full-text searching for many written items), or searched across multiple collections. The Library’s expert research and reference staff is available online to assist patrons in accessing American Memory materials through the Ask a Librarian service.
American Memory also reflects the success of a visionary national collaboration involving many different institutions and both public and private initiatives. In particular, a three-year competition sponsored by the Library between 1996 and 1999 with a $2 million gift from the Ameritech Corporation enabled a select group of non-federal public, research, and academic libraries; museums; historical societies; and archival institutions to digitize 23 collections of historical materials and make them available as part of the American Memory site, complementing and enhancing the Library’s own online resources.