: views from the Hill

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

[URL] Making of America - 19th c primary sources

Making of America -- 19th c primary sources (and some 20th c too)

Making of America (MoA) is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. The collection currently contains approximately 10,000 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints. For more details about the project, see About MoA.

Amazing collection of stuff.

I was wandering around today trying to see if I could find some written context for "The man who doesn't read books has no advantage over the man who can't read them" (and variations), attributed to Mark Twain -- a discussion that popped up yesterday on Project Wombat (formerly, the Stumpers list).

I never did find confirmation or attribution for the alleged Twain quote, but I did find an essay -- patronizing to say the least -- explaining to the dear little women what sorts of books they should be asking for their husband's permission to buy and read: a six-page article titled, "Reading," by L.L. Hamline, found in "The Ladies' repository: a monthly periodical, devoted to literature, arts, and religion."

Whoo boy.

With the thousands of books and thousands of articles the MOA folks have scanned and continued to scan, you could spend a long while in these archives.

Maneuverability is good. The search is FAST and can be simple, Boolean, &c. MOA pulls up matches giving title &c. and number of pages your search terms are on. You can wend through the pages of a given work or ask for those specific pages within the work that have your search term(s).

The app doesn't highlight the found word on the page, which is unfortunate when you have a dense page filled with tiny print.

Interesting stuff. A peek into where we've come from.

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