Virtual archives in Second Life

We welcome you to visit our Virtual Archives in Second Life! Virtual worlds are where users create avatars--or online personas--to explore and interact with others in real time. In the summer of 2009, Special Collections and University Archives decided to use this technology as a way of allowing scholars to virtually "browse" Stanford's closed manuscripts stacks—a practice not offered in real life. Additionally, we hope our virtual archives will introduce new users to the rewards of primary source research and further our efforts in promoting archival literacy.

Stanford's Virtual Archives contains a small, but growing, subset of some of our collections. Patrons can open virtual manuscript boxes and a sampling of scanned documents from the real life box will appear along with a link to that collection’s online finding aid. Here are some of the collections you will find in our virtual archives:

  • M0070 Meyer Lissner
  • M0080 Ambrose Bierce
  • M0121 British Authors
  • M0122 American Authors
  • M1090 R. Buckminster Fuller
  • M1230 Ampex Corporation Records
  • M1602 French Colonial Africa: Christian missionary postcards
  • Mss Photo 0221 Historic Monterey (CA)
  • Mss Photo 0440 Ira Nowinski collection
  • Mss Photo 0182 Historic San Francisco
  • SC0001 Stanford Commission of Engineers: 1906 Earthquake
  • SC0206 Stanford 1906 Earthquake collection
  • SC0034 John Casper Branner
  • SC0455 Stanford Japanese American students

Reference in Second Life

Reference questions can be posted on the virtual bulletin board which sends an email to our public services for response.

Introductory video

For more information on the Special Collections' Virtual Archives, please watch our introductory video (mp4).

You may also find the video on YouTube.

How to get to the virtual archives

You can find our virtual archives at the following SLURL address (this will launch the Second Life application from your web browser).

Additional resources

For those not already in Second Life, joining is free at

Virtual archives in Second Life