May 26, 2022

U.S. History: Princeton University Library Brings Revolutionary-era Texts Alive Online

From News at Princeton:

More than 235 years after Thomas Paine challenged the American colonists to free themselves from British rule in his treatise “Common Sense,” history buffs around the world can study Paine’s rousing words and other Revolutionary-era texts through the Princeton University Digital Library.

Nearly 150 books, pamphlets and prints from the Sid Lapidus ’59 Collection on Liberty and the American Revolution were recently digitized in their original form and are available online for free. Readers may virtually flip through the frayed-edge pages of “Common Sense,” which helped inspire the Declaration of Independence after it was published in 1776, or enlarge detailed text and images featured in the works of Founding Fathers John Hancock, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and many others.


Stephen Ferguson, assistant University librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections and curator of rare books, said it took a team of eight people nearly a year to scan the approximately 32,000 pages for the digital library. Ferguson said the library plans to add more content to the website over time.

The library’s hard work was recently recognized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries’ Scout Report, which named the Lapidus Collection one of the best online resources for the 2011-12 academic year.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York City also has worked with the library to create online resources for secondary school teachers based on the materials.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.



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