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eBook available: How to Do Chemical Tricks

How to Do Chemical TricksAnother book in our collection has been given the Project Gutenberg / Distributed Proofreaders eBook treatment this week. How to Do Chemical Tricks is, as the title suggests, a collection of science experiments (not strictly limited to chemistry) from Frank Tousey‘s Ten Cent Hand Book series.

Like many other books in the series, this seems to have been cobbled together from multiple sources, as it seems a bit disorganized and sometimes repeats itself. In spite of its flaws, though, it is an interesting read, and some of the experiments might still be fun to perform today (if you can figure out how to modernize the archaic terminology). However, the book is obviously a product of a different time, as it encourages its young audience to do things that today’s parents would probably not approve of, including inhaling nitrous oxide, asphyxiating mice, and (of course) creating a variety of fires and explosions.

As always, the entire book can be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg, but remember — don’t try some of these things at home!


Available for proofreading: In the Wonderful Land of Hez

In the Wonderful Land of HezA couple of years ago, we released an eBook of In the Depths of the Dark Continent, a dime novel adventure featuring, among other things, giant crabs and a lost civilization. Our latest project at Distributed Proofreaders comes from the same author and is written in the same vein: In the Wonderful Land of Hez; or, the Mystery of the Fountain of Youth.

To help create a new electronic edition of this forgotten adventure, first read this earlier post to learn how the process works, then join in at the project page.


eBook available: The Art of Kissing

The Art of KissingThis week’s Project Gutenberg eBook release (courtesy of Distributed Proofreaders and our Digital Library) is The Art of Kissing by Will Rossiter, an eclectic mix of history, trivia, anecdotes and jokes. It is surprisingly extensive, so the best way to describe it is simply to reproduce its table of contents:

    I.    Origin of kissing; the Scandinavian tradition; an old poet’s idea—Kissing in ancient Rome, and among the Jews and early Christians—Biblical kissing—Religious significance—Kissing in early England—Ancient kissing customs as described by Erasmus—The puritanical views of John Bunyan—How Adam kissed Eve—A kiss defined: By the dictionary, Shakespeare, Robert Herrick, Sidney, Coleridge—Comical and short descriptions—A grammar of kissing—The scientific reason why kisses are pleasant.

II.    How to kiss—The act fully described—Size of the mouth to be considered—Large mouths and those of the rose-bud sort—The girl who claws and struggles—Poetical directions—Dangers of hugging—Tapping the lips of a Mexican senorita—Kissing a Chinese girl—How to receive a kiss—Long-remembered kisses—The kiss in betrothal and marriage.

III.    The significance of kisses—The kissing of hands in religious ceremony and social life, in ancient Rome, Mexico and Austria—The politic achievement of a kiss—An indignant cardinal—A kiss within the cup—Something about lips, the sweet petitioners for kisses—Dancing and kissing—An Irish kissing festival—Electric kissing parties—Kissing under the mistletoe—New year’s kissing in old New York—A Western kissing bee.

IV.    Kissing in different countries: In Arabia, Egypt, Russia, Finland, Iceland, Paraguay—A pleasing but perplexing Norwegian custom—The “blue laws” of Connecticut—Kissing in the eyes of the law—Money value of a stolen kiss—Sanitary dangers of kissing—Kissing the dying—Famous kisses—The Blarney Stone—Soulful kisses—Kissing the feet of beggars.

V.    Different kinds of kisses: The long, long kiss, the paroxysmal, the icy, the Western, the life-teeming kiss—How college girls kiss—The kiss of a female cornetist—Platonic kisses—Roman osculation—Characteristics of kisses—The kiss as a punishment—The king of baby-kissers—The kiss after marriage—Stolen kisses, sometimes called “dainty bits of plunder”—The story of a Circassian girl.

VI.    Men kissing each other in France, in England, and in Germany—Origin of the custom of kissing the Pope’s toe—Henry IV. and his punishment—Kissing the feet of royalty an ancient custom—Kisses as rewards of genius—The part osculation has paid in politics—Curious bargains for kisses—What legally constitutes a kiss—A kiss at auction—Giving $50 to kiss Edwin Booth.

VII.    Excuses for kissing; how all nature justifies the practice—The childish and the humorous excuse—Kissing casuistry—The gluttony of kissing; unaccountable osculatory demands—Excuses for not kissing—Kissing experiences—Dominie Brown’s first kiss—The kiss of the Spanish girl, the nurse, the mother—A curious German custom.

VIII.    The important consequences connected with kissing—Arrah-na-Pogue—Refusing the sacrament on account of a kiss—How a child’s kiss affected the course of a desperate man—What a little mare’s kiss did—Brought to life by a kiss—The kiss of death—Kissing in tunnels—A mountain experience—Kissing the cook.

And in case you are keeping score, yes, the book does share some of St. Augustine’s wisdom on the subject.

The entire book can be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


eBook available: Tragedies of the White Slave

Tragedies of the White SlavesOur latest completed project from Distributed Proofreaders is Tragedies of the White Slave, an inexpensive paper-covered volume from 1909 that seems to fall into the same category as early “cautionary” films like Reefer Madness, adopting a highly moralistic tone while also providing shocking-for-its-time accounts of taboo topics.

Although the title page promises “ten tragedies of ten girls,” the book actually delivers six single-chapter anecdotes and a seventh tale split into six additional chapters. All claim to be true stories, and the long piece, about Irish lace-maker Ella Gingles, does appear to refer to a real case that was covered in such papers as the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times, among others. The author, Hal Mcleod Lytle, also appears to be a real Chicago Tribune reporter of the period, based on a search of the Ancestry database.

The premise of the book is that big cities, and in particular, Chicago, harbor a widespread and efficient industry specializing in entrapping young girls into forced prostitution. Human trafficking remains a real (if controversially-defined) problem, and undoubtedly some of today’s problems were already brewing in 1909 (and earlier). However, many of the anecdotes here resemble dime novel melodrama more than believable criminal activity, suggesting that, at best, this is a loose mix of fact and fantasy. Significantly, the real case involving Ella Gingles seems to offer a lot more ambiguity and room for alternate interpretations than the shorter, more apparently fictionalized or generalized stories.

If nothing else, this book offers an interesting view of how some particularly horrific subjects were viewed and portrayed in a much more conservative time, and it might also provide some starting points for deeper research into how reality and public perception differed on the subject of the exploitation of women during this period.


eBook available: Motor Matt’s Defiance

Motor Matt's DefianceThis week sees the release of another Motor Stories issue on Project Gutenberg, thanks to the labor of Distributed Proofreaders and the use of images from our Digital Library. In Motor Matt’s Defiance; or, Around the Horn, the Motor Boys continue their mission to deliver a submarine into the hands of the U. S. government while facing a variety of foes and obstacles.

Perhaps more interesting than the lead story here is the inclusion of the first half of “The Spider Water,” an unattributed tale which turns out to be abridged from a portion of Frank H. Spearman’s Held for Orders, a collection of rail-themed short stories. This particular story appears to have been reprinted in a variety of places, and it might be interesting to investigate how it made its way to the pages of Motor Stories, where it seems stylistically a bit out of place.

As always, the full issue can be read online at Project Gutenberg.


Available for proofreading: How to Make and Set Traps

How to Make and Set TrapsOur latest Distributed Proofreaders project continues our efforts to create eBook editions of Frank Tousey’s Ten Cent Hand Books. The current title in processing is How to Make and Set Traps, perhaps a natural companion to the earlier completed book, How to Stuff Birds and Animals.

To help with the work of converting our raw scans into a convenient eBook, please read this previous post to learn about the process, then join in at the project page.


eBook available: Addie’s Husband

Addie's HusbandThis week’s eBook release is Addie’s Husband; or, Through Clouds to Sunshine, by British novelist Mrs. Gordon Smythies. Like many British novels, this one was reprinted in America as part of George Munro’s Seaside Library, quite possibly with little or no compensation to the author. From there, it eventually made its way to our Digital Library, and from there, to Distributed Proofreaders and Project Gutenberg.

As the title suggests, the book is a romance, telling the tale of a young girl thrown on the world when her father squanders the family fortune. Help comes in the form of an unexpected marriage, but, needless to say, there are plenty of melodramatic complications before the promised sunshine arrives. While the book stays well within the bounds of most 19th century romantic conventions, it is perhaps noteworthy for giving both its hero and heroine physical and emotional imperfections and at least a hint of pragmatism, in an era where many similar novels featured exaggeratedly idealized characters driven by extreme passions.

The entire book can be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


Available for proofreading: How to Do Chemical Tricks

How to Do Chemical TricksIt has been quite some time since we have released a Frank Tousey Ten Cent Hand Book to Distributed Proofreaders, so today’s new project is somewhat overdue. How to Do Chemical Tricks offers a series of science experiments for its young readers, and like previous release How to Make Electrical Machines, it shows that our attitudes about what children should be doing on their own may have changed a bit in a century.

To help produce a new electronic edition of this vintage book, first read our earlier blog post about the proofreading process, then join in the work at the project page.


eBook available: Motor Matt in Brazil

Motor Matt in BrazilAnother week brings another Project Gutenberg release from the Motor Stories series, thanks to the work of Distributed Proofreaders volunteers.

In volume 18, Motor Matt in Brazil; or, Under the Amazon, the Motor Boys continue their adventures aboard the submarine Grampus, finding themselves opposed by the Sons of the Rising Son, a fanatical Japanese nationalist group determined to prevent the craft from falling under the control of the American government. Perhaps it goes without saying that some unfortunate period stereotypes are put on display along the way, and the story’s heroes demonstrate varying degrees of racism, though the narrative is careful to differentiate between the story’s villains and the friendly Japanese government.

The book is filled out with “In the Hands of the Enemy,” a short story involving an African uprising (and, unsurprisingly, some more racist attitudes).

The entire issue can be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


eBook available: Motor Matt’s Close Call

Motor Matt's Close CallAnother Motor Stories adventure has arrived at Project Gutenberg through our collaboration with Distributed Proofreaders.

In issue 17, Motor Matt’s Close Call; or, The Snare of Don Carlos, the submarine Grampus once again faces revolutionaries in Belize through the machinations of a villain with a talent for impersonation.

The issue also contains some interesting filler material: a feel-good New Year’s story by Horatio Alger, Jr. and an article about dangerous careers, which includes such memorable passages as this one, about the hazards faced by pearl divers:

Many succumb every season to a strange and deadly form of paralysis. Many more are eaten by sharks, drowned through getting their feet entangled in weeds, caught in crevices in the rocks while exploring the depths of the sea, or seized and devoured quickly by shoals of gigantic octopi—those ghouls of the ocean—which invariably infest the fishing-grounds.

The entire book can be downloaded or read online through Project Gutenberg.

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Last Modified: August 16, 2015