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eBook available: The Dreadnought Boys Aboard a Destroyer

Our latest title to be added to Project Gutenberg thanks to help from Distributed Proofreaders is The Dreadnought Boys Aboard a Destroyer, the second book in a six-volume juvenile series about the adventures of Ned Strong and Herc Taylor, two young men serving in the United States Navy shortly before the first World War. In this volume, Ned and Herc are assigned to the Beale, a destroyer-class vessel traveling to the fictional South American country of Costaveza, where a revolution against the U.S.-friendly government is underway. Although they are meant to remain neutral in the conflict, the boys are inevitably drawn into the conflict, which turns surprisingly deadly for a children’s book.

As with the rest of the series, this book is far from an exercise in subtlety; the good guys are very good and the bad guys are very bad, and some familiar melodramatic plot devices make their appearances along the way. Perhaps unsurprisingly for its time period, the book seems to go out of its way to label and stereotype its South American characters, whether they are heroes or villains. The most distinctive feature of this book is the way it portrays the politics of United States involvement in South American affairs; as with the rest of the book, this is not handled with any nuance, but it shows a mainstream portrayal of a topic that one might not expect to see in the popular culture of the time.

The full text of the book can be found at Project Gutenberg, where it may be read online or downloaded in popular eBook formats.


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Available for proofreading: How to Do Mechanical Tricks

Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project is another volume from dime novel publisher Frank Tousey‘s Ten Cent Hand Book series: How to Do Mechanical Tricks. As the subtitle puts it, this small volume contains “complete instruction for performing over sixty ingenious mechanical tricks.” Containing many illustrations, this book provided quite a few ideas for the amateur magician.

To help create an electronic edition of this text (and perhaps learn a few new tricks from 1902 in the process), you can learn more about the proofreading process from this earlier blog post, then join in the work at the project page.


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Available for proofreading: The Dreadnought Boys Aboard a Destroyer

Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project is The Dreadnought Boys Aboard a Destroyer, the sequel to juvenile naval adventure, The Dreadnought Boys on Battle Practice and the second volume in a six-book series.

If you are interested in helping to turn this long out-of-print novel into a free eBook, you can read this earlier blog post to learn about the process, then join in the fun at the project page.


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eBook available: Jaquelina

Our latest Project Gutenberg release, produced through the Distributed Proofreaders project, is another melodrama by the prolific 19th century author, Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller. In Jaquelina; or, The Outlaw’s Bride, a young orphan farm girl crosses paths with a gang of horse thieves, a wealthy poet and a jealous rival as she tries to gain an education and escape an unhappy life with an unkind aunt. First serialized in the New York Family Story Paper during 1882, this comes from fairly early in Mrs. Miller’s decades-long career as a story paper headliner; the edition in our collection is a later paper-covered reprint. While this is not the most sensational of Mrs. Miller’s writings (that title probably belongs with her over-the-top story paper debut, The Bride of the Tomb), it does contain some of the usual twists and turns that her readers have come to expect.

The full novel may be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


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Available for proofreading: Jaquelina

Front cover, An old man’s darling, and Jacquelina / by Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller

Earlier in the year, we released an electronic edition of story paper author Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller‘s An Old Man’s Darling through Project Gutenberg. That novel was published in an omnibus volume with a second story, Jaquelina (misspelled “Jacquelina” on the cover), which will be our next Mrs. Miller release. If you would like to help prepare a clean electronic text of this 19th-century melodrama, you can participate through the Distributed Proofreaders project. To learn more about the proofreading process, see this earlier blog post; to dive into the work, visit the project page.


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eBook available: Counterfeit Money

Here’s a familiar scenario: a victim receives an unsolicited message offering easy cash. The temptation overrides their common sense, and they find themselves caught by a clever scheme and robbed of their own money. This sounds like a tale of spammers in the digital age, but our latest eBook release, Counterfeit Money, shows that similar trickery was afoot in the age of the telegraph.

Part of the Multum in Parvo Library, the self-described “smallest periodical in the world,” this new digital edition of a 19th-century chapbook was created with the help of the Distributed Proofreaders volunteers, and can now be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


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eBook available: The Senator’s Favorite

The Senator's FavoriteOur latest Project Gutenberg release, produced with the help of Distributed Proofreaders, is The Senator’s Favorite, a rare sequel in the output of prolific story paper author Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller, following on from her much earlier novel, The Senator’s Bride.

While the previous novel’s happy ending left a fairly obvious setup for where a sequel might lead, The Senator’s Favorite does not follow this path of least resistance. Instead, it largely sets up a whole new generation of characters, with the leads of the earlier story having relatively limited roles. Surprisingly (in a novel that otherwise follows the expected melodramatic formula), the story provides sad fates for some of the previous novel’s protagonists; Mrs. Miller wrote in her autobiography of feeling frustration with the unrealistic requirement for a happy ending to every story, and it seems that this sequel gave her a rare opportunity to retroactively work around that necessity.

The complete text of the book is now available for online reading or download through Project Gutenberg.


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Available for proofreading: Counterfeit Money

Counterfeit MoneyOur newest Distributed Proofreaders project is Counterfeit Money, another chapbook from the Multum in Parvo Library, the same series that brought us Secrets of the Harem.

If you are interested in helping to create a new electronic text of this exposé of the “green goods” business, you can first read our earlier blog post about how the proofreading process works, and then you can join in the work at the project page.


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eBook available: Secrets of the Harem

The Secrets of the HaremOur latest contribution to Project Gutenberg (with the assistance of the Distributed Proofreaders) is The Secrets of the Harem, one of the tiny chapbooks that made up the Multum in Parvo Library, the self-proclaimed ” smallest magazine in the world” from the late 19th century.

The text of the book appears to be drawn from multiple sources, and none of it offers the sensationalism that one might expect based on the title. The longest piece is a description of Turkish harem life, presumably written by a Western woman. This is followed by three shorter and more technical pieces describing harem structure and terminology. The booklet is then filled out with advertising and some short essays and poetry completely unrelated to harem life.

The complete text (only about 3,500 words) can be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.


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Available for proofreading: Secrets of the Harem

The Secrets of the HaremOur latest Distributed Proofreaders project is a tiny chapbook from the Multum in Parvo Library, which described itself as “the smallest magazine in the world” and covered an unusual assortment of subject matter. The particular issue in question is The Secrets of the Harem, a work which was almost certainly intended to pique the curiosity of its audience rather than convey useful or accurate information. Regardless of its utility or political correctness, it remains an interesting piece of ephemera, showing one of the ways publishers tried to entice readers in the late 19th century.

To help create a new electronic edition of this text, first read how the process works in this earlier blog post, then join in the work at the project page.


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Last Modified: May 16, 2017