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Available for proofreading: Camping in the Winter Woods

Our newest book to become available for volunteer proofreading through the Distributed Proofreaders project is Camping in the Winter Woods by Elmer Russell Gregor, a 1912 juvenile adventure story by an author with a strong interest in outdoor life and Native Americans.

You can help produce a new electronic edition of this long-forgotten novel by correcting computer-generated transcriptions of the pages; eventually, the full text will be made available as an eBook on Project Gutenberg.

If you want to join in the fun, you can read our earlier Proofreading the Digital Library post to learn how the process works, and then you can grab an assignment at the project page.


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eBook available: Boys of the Central

Our latest Project Gutenberg release, courtesy of Distributed Proofreaders, is the 1896 juvenile novel Boys of the Central, by Ida Treadwell Thurston (writing under her initials, perhaps to obscure her gender).

The book follows a class of high school students through their last two years before graduation. Much of the narrative is focused on the conflict between a student-formed “Law and Order” society, and misbehaving students who prefer “fun” over academics.

While much of the narrative is clearly designed to serve as a moral lesson for its readers, and there are some sensationalized incidents (like the rescue of a little girl from a speeding fire-engine), the book also offers some glimpses into the school and everyday life of late-19th-century high schoolers. Much is said of Latin recitations and military-style drilling; there’s also a whole chapter dedicated to a snowball fight.

If you are interested in reading more, the entire book can be found for online viewing or download through Project Gutenberg.


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Available for proofreading: Midshipman Merrill

Our latest Distributed Proofreading project is Midshipman Merrill, a naval adventure novel first serialized in the Good News story paper, later reprinted as a Medal Library dime novel, and finally reprinted in hardcover by Philadelphia publisher David McKay. By volunteering a little bit of your time, you can help the book make one more metamorphosis, into a freely-available eBook at Project Gutenberg!

If you want to help with the proofreading process, you can read our earlier Proofreading the Digital Library post to learn how the process works, and then you can join in the fun at the book’s project page!


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eBook available: Jed’s Boy

In April, we started a Distributed Proofreaders project for Jed’s Boy, a juvenile novel of World War I written by Civil War veteran Warren Lee Goss. Because it is a sequel of sorts to the author’s earlier Civil War novel Jed, that makes it a “series book” of sorts, though it is somewhat different in style and tone than many of the more formulaic Great War stories that were specifically written to be packaged into series like the Brighton Boys or Two American Boys.

The novel is written in the first person, which gives it the flavor of a memoir and allows a bit more time to be spent on the protagonist’s interior life than a contemporary third-person narrative would have. Time passes and characters develop at a faster pace than in a typical juvenile series, since there is no apparent desire on the author’s part to stretch the narrative out to multiple books. Of course, some familiar elements from the series books are also on display here: a patriotic tone, a lot more violence than the typical children’s book, and a generally unquestioning portrayal of war.

Given that it was published shortly after the war ended, when readers might not have cared to be reminded of the recent conflict, it is perhaps unsurprising that this book has been mostly forgotten. Nonetheless, for anyone studying juvenile fiction about the war, it fills an interesting space in the landscape: an attempt by a veteran of 19th century warfare to portray the new horrors of the 20th century — gas, lice, machine guns and all — to a young audience.

The entire book can be read online or downloaded in popular eBook formats through Project Gutenberg.


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eBook available: Two American Boys in the War Zone

Another book from our Digital Library has passed through the Distributed Proofreaders process and into Project Gutenberg. Like many of our recent releases, this is a juvenile novel written and set during the first World War: Levi Worthington Green’s Two American Boys in the War Zone.

The novel, a direct sequel to the author’s The Boy Fugitives in Mexico, has a pair of brothers separated from their father while on vacation in Russia. The father’s ability to speak German leads to his arrest as a possible spy, and the boys make a long and dangerous journey to find their way home to their mother. While the shadow of the war hangs over the novel and influences some of its major events, the author’s focus seems more on providing an incident-filled travelogue of Russia than on describing key events of the conflict.

This book was marketed to children by a major publisher in 1915, but it would not receive the same treatment today. The author clearly meant to paint the titular siblings in a heroic light, but their depicted attitudes toward race and violence provide a few genuinely shocking moments for the contemporary reader. While the novel is decidedly inappropriate as a piece of family entertainment, it might offer some insight for the cultural historian.

The full text of the book can be read online or downloaded in popular eBook formats through Project Gutenberg.

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Available for proofreading: Boys of the Central

Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project is a novel of high school life that was published in Boston in 1896: Boys of the Central, by Ida Treadwell Thurston. This book, mostly forgotten for more than a century, will soon be much more accessible, and you can help make it happen. With the help of a team of volunteers, the page images from our Digital Library will be turned into a Project Gutenberg eBook through a simple web-based process. Anyone can join in and help; it’s simply a matter of reading our Proofreading the Digital Library post and then visiting the project page to begin work. Stay tuned; in a few months, a complete, corrected text will be freely available for anyone to read. At that point, we’ll probably have a bit more to say about the contents of the book!

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eBook available: The Sundered Streams

Another book from our Digital Library has made its way through Distributed Proofreaders into Project Gutenberg.

The Sundered Streams: The History of a Memory That Had No Full Stops was the first published novel by Reginald Farrer, an author better known for his non-fiction works on gardening. The novel’s plot takes some startling twists and turns — especially given that the work was published in 1907 — but the plot often takes the back seat to a verbose and tangent-prone narrative. Some of these tangents touch on subjects close to Farrer’s heart; while plants are seldom mentioned, Buddhism plays a very significant role in the plot, and a one still-relevant aside discusses the timeless popularity of Jane Austen’s works.

If you want to take a look for yourself, the whole book is freely available on Project Gutenberg for online reading or download in a variety of popular eBook formats.

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Available for proofreading: Jed’s Boy

Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project, Jed’s Boy, continues the theme of juvenile novels about the first World War, though this one has a deeper history than most of the others. Its author, Warren Lee Goss, was a Civil War veteran who wrote several books about that conflict, including a juvenile novel called Jed: A Boy’s Adventures in the Army of ’61-’65, published in 1889. When the Great War broke out, Goss wrote a sequel to Jed in which the earlier protagonist’s nephew participates in the newer conflict. The sequel was published thirty years after the original, in 1919, shortly after the end of the war. While the original Jed is not completely forgotten (an audio book version is currently in print), the sequel has been less fortunate. By producing an electronic text for Project Gutenberg, you can help make it accessible once more for anyone interested in Goss’ later work, or contemporary portrayals of World War I.

Distributed Proofreaders makes it possible for volunteers to assist with corrections one page at a time; even a few minutes of effort will help! To learn how it works, just read our Proofreading the Digital Library post. When you’re ready to join in, you can visit the project page to get your first assignment.

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Available for Proofreading: Two American Boys in the War Zone

Last month’s Distributed Proofreaders project was well-received and went through the early rounds of processing quite quickly, so we are back with another one! This time, we have returned to the World War I theme of many of our recent projects with Levi Worthington Green’s Two American Boys in the War Zone, a juvenile novel completely unrelated to Major Sherman Crockett’s similarly-themed Two American Boys series.

You can help produce a free Project Gutenberg eBook of this long out-of-print novel by assisting with corrections one page at a time; even a couple of minutes of effort will help! To learn how it works, just read our Proofreading the Digital Library post. When you’re ready to join in, you can visit the project page to get your first assignment.

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Available for proofreading: Under the Polar Star


Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project is an 1886 dime novel aimed at young readers, part of the Golden Library of Choice Reading for Boys and Girls: Under the Polar Star, by Dwight Weldon. Given that many of us are forced to spend extra time indoors right now, it may be just the right time to ignore the spring weather and instead work to help preserve this long-forgotten novel about polar exploration.

If you haven’t volunteered for proofreading support before, you can learn how it works in this earlier blog post: Proofreading the Digital Library. The process of volunteer-based cultural preservation adds a hint of friendly competition in the form of leaderboards and ranks based on the number of pages you help to proofread and format. Ultimately, all of the work done there adds to the huge collection of free eBooks at Project Gutenberg.

If you’re persuaded and want to give it a try, you can join in the fun at the project page. If you enjoy the process, please comment here and let us know — that will encourage us to prioritize the release of even more titles into the queues; we’ll even take requests if anything in our Digital Library strikes your fancy!

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Last Modified: March 18, 2020