DPLA and teaching literary/historical research

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) “amplifies the value of libraries and cultural organizations as Americans’ most trusted sources of shared knowledge.” In practice this means it’s a hub linking many disparate sources of online documents and multimedia objects. I knew this but had kind of forgotten about it until I came across its little trove of resources on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, which I’m teaching this week in ENGL 252.

A few clicks later, I discovered its collection of “primary source sets” for something like a hundred different topics on literature and cultural history from old-school classics like Twain and Melville to new-school classics like Morrison and Kate Chopin to historical topics like Stonewall and Black Minstrelsy. The resources are clearly aimed at novices, so will be more useful for smaller projects, but they would really lend themselves to helping students get their feet wet in linking primary texts to social and cultural historical contexts.

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