I'm staggered on a near-daily basis at the intellectual resources the net puts at our fingertips. Flickr has a collection called The Commons - "help us catalog the world's public photo archives." Museums, NASA, libraries, government entities - don't click that link if you want to get much work done.
Since we're not far from Vancouver B.C., I was curious to see what the University of British Columbia had put into the mix.
Maps from 17th century.
Prints from the 18th century.
Photos from the 19th century.
And everything in between.
Here's the link: UBC Library Digitization Centre.
The historical materials from Japan, in particular, are phenomenal. Letters, maps, prints, battle maps - artifact after artifact. I'll limit myself to one example, because it's so beautifully done. The tsunami in Japan four years ago was horrifying, of course. It's happened before. This visual story about the Tsunami of 1896 packs so much drama in one visual. (Click for large image).
Source here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ubclibrary_digicentre/13720269294/
Isn't that just terrific?
I don't read Japanese; drop me a line if you care to translate any of the language. I'll add the translations here.