Cultural Heritage Library

Image of early balloon from Upcott's scrapbook of early aeronauticaThe Smithsonian Libraries' Cultural Heritage Library (CHL) project began in 2010 with the aim of digitizing the public domain collections housed in our History, Art, and Culture libraries. It is the counterpart to our digital collections in the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and the natural outgrowth of an earlier digitization program that began in 1999.

At over 5,000 items and nearly 1.7 million pages, the collection continues to grow, with digital versions of books that range from Galileo's Sidereus nuncius and Owen Jones' The grammar of ornament to vintage Cycling journals, a manual of "Etiquette, love, courtship and matrimony" and oddly enough poems about tobacco.

All our digitized items are freely available for download, reading, and reuse both on our website's books online section and at the Internet Archive. Here is a continually updated list of our most recent scans.

You can explore the CHL collections in our Digital Library by searching, using the website search feature, or by browsing a list of subjects or authors. More information on using online books can be found in this FAQ.

For more facts and figures about the CHL project, see the latest report (below).