Online books

I’ve moaned before in this space about reading on my computer. Sometimes, though, there are some books that can only be accessed this way. Queen Victoria’s Handwritten Journals, for example. Now you too can read what the Queen thought. Or what her daughter Beatrice thought we should know about what the Queen thought as most of the original volumes have been edited by Beatrice. It is all very interesting.

What other books can really only be accessed online? There’s the John Adams collection housed in the Boston Public Library. It is possible to get some copies of books from this collection elsewhere, but the actual copy that John Adams owned, with any marginalia, only online. Of course, were I in London, or in Boston, I could probably get access to the Royal Archives or to the special collections of the Boston Public Library. But then, I’m a scholar with special access. The internet is the great leveller and makes these items available to all in any location.

What interesting collections of historic or rare books have you come across online? Do share in the comments!

Finding material online can be a bit of a trick. I like the internet archive for the wide variety of items linked. Any other preferred searches? Google books also has its uses if I’m looking for the source of a quotation — it searches book contents where possible. How wild is that? Pretty crazy I’d say. It makes a researcher’s life easier. And perhaps more superficial. But more of that another time.


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