Supported by UNESCO, the World Digital Library's collections present cultural treasures from around the world. Historic manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings...it's all here.
Search the collection by key word. Or you can also browse the collection by place, time period, topic, and other filters -- click on the link and, when the new page opens, use the filters along the left side of the page to browse as you wish.
Examples of the rare items in the collection include the following:
The Dresden Codex is a Mayan book, the oldest surviving book written in the Americas, dating to the 11th or 12th century. The Codex was rediscovered in Dresden, Germany, hence the book's present name.
Unidentified African American Soldier in Union Uniform with Wife and Two Daughters - Among the rarest of images from the U.S. Civil War are those of African-Americans in uniform, especially with their families and friends.
Book of Hours - Made for use in the diocese of Cambrai in French Flanders around 1300‒10, this item is especially interesting for its profusion of humorous animals, humans, and hybrids featured on each page. Scenes record a variety of activities, such as cooking, playing games, climbing, fishing, making music, dancing, and perhaps the earliest known images of tennis being played.
Illustrations of China and Its People: A Series of Two Hundred Photographs (1868-1872), the first known photographic record of all aspects of Chinese life.
Interview with Fountain Hughes, Baltimore, Maryland, one of only a few surviving audio-recorded interviews of ex-slaves in the United States.
Hyakumanto Darani, One Million Small Wooden Pagodas and Dharani Prayers. This unique Japanese manuscript is the oldest traceable publication in the world whose production date is clearly identified. In 764, the Empress Shōtoku (718-770) ordered the donation of Hyakumanto Darani, each containing a small scroll printed with four Buddhist Dharani sutras, to ten major temples.
On Famous Women - A 15th Century catalog of great women beginning with the Holy Virgin and including Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Queen Isabella of Spain, Queen Margaret of Scotland, and well-known Christian mystics.
Codex Amiatinus - The earliest surviving manuscript of the complete Bible in the Latin Vulgate.