A new "digital public library" set to launch this month aims to provide an alternative to Google for those looking for American cultural information online.
Visitors will be able to view, for example, letters penned by George Washington, a copy of the Declaration of Independence in the handwriting of Thomas Jefferson, and ambrotype and daguerreotype images of Abraham Lincoln.
The Digital Public Library of America site dp.la will be launched on April 18 with more than two million objects -- including digital renderings of photos, books, manuscripts and other items from places such as the Smithsonian Institution, along with museums, libraries and historical institutions around the country.
"We are bringing together the richest of America's archives and museums, and making them easily searchable for teachers, scholars, journalists and others," said Dan Cohen, the DPLA executive director.
The site created through the impetus of Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society is modeled after the Europeana library in Europe and the Australian National Library's Trove project.
Cohen said DPLA can be used as a search portal for researchers, as an alternative to a search engine like Google because it is a self-contained site with many objects that might not be available by Web search.
"I think we are going to have a lot better descriptions that won't come through in a Google search," Cohen told AFP. "It will be a far superior experience."