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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project to be completed and posted to Project Gutenberg is Two American Boys with the Dardanelles Battle Fleet, the third book in the series begun with Two American Boys with the Allied Armies. While the second book in the series has not been released as an eBook yet, little is missed by skipping over it; this book finds the titular heroes still in the midst of the first World War, still searching out Frank, one boy’s brother, who has joined the Allies as a pilot.
This particular book brings the boys into contact with combatants from a variety of different cultures caught up in the conflict — Australians and New Zealanders supporting the Allies, Greeks playing a variety of roles, Turks commanded by Germans. Unsurprisingly some of the period’s prejudices are revealed, as the author seems more comfortable allowing his heroes to stretch the boundaries of American neutrality further when facing foes they view as more foreign. As in many books of this period, the violence can be surprisingly unflinching given the juvenile audience, though some nuance is added by the fact that the author has his two characters react to it in significantly different ways.
If you are interested in learning more, the full text of the novel can be read online or downloaded in common eBook formats through Project Gutenberg.
Like many of our recent Distributed Proofreaders projects, our latest offering is another World War I juvenile series book: The Airship Boys in the Great War. This differs from most of the previous ones by being a war-themed entry in a pre-existing series, rather than part of a series created especially to tell stories about the war. Released in 1915, this was written comparatively early in the conflict.
To help turn this more-than-a-century-old book into a new electronic text, you can read our earlier blog post, Proofreading the Digital Library, to learn how the online proofreading process works, and then you can join in the fun at the project page.
Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project to reach Project Gutenberg is another example of juvenile fiction from the World War I era: Our Young Aeroplane Scouts In France and Belgium by Horace Porter. Like Two American Boys with the Allied Armies, this was published in 1915, before the United States’ entry into the war.
In the novel, two airplane-loving friends, Billy and Henri, find themselves drawn into events as the war unfolds in France. Much of the narrative involves Henri’s efforts to retrieve his family’s treasure from the war zone, but the story is highly episodic and contains a variety of different scenarios. Its portrayal of death and combat is fairly unflinching for a children’s book. The writing itself is quite slangy and filled with unusual sentence constructions, making it surprisingly difficult for the modern-day reader to parse. Perhaps this was more accessible to its target audience at the time, though given that other books from the period remain much more readable today, it’s also possible the writing always felt awkward.
Awkward or not, the full text of the book is now available for free online reading (or download in a variety of common eBook formats) through Project Gutenberg.
Less than two weeks ago, we released the eBook of the World War I juvenile novel, Two American Boys with the Allied Armies, by Major Sherman Crockett; now we are ready to begin work on one of that story’s sequels, Two American Boys with the Dardanelles Battle Fleet.
If you would like to help create a new electronic edition of this more-than-a-century-old story, you can join the Distributed Proofreaders project, where volunteers contribute small amounts of work to produce large numbers of eBooks. To learn more about how the process works, see our earlier blog post, Proofreading the Digital Library. Once you are ready to help, the adventure await you at the book’s project page.
Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project to become a Project Gutenberg eBook is another World War I juvenile, Two American Boys with the Allied Armies, by “Major Sherman Crockett.” This book is the first in a series, in which two American youths visit the European war zone in search of a missing relative.
Published in 1915, before the United States entered into the conflict, the tone of the book is quite different from war novels of the following years, in which anti-German sentiment was much more explicit. Here, the main characters are careful to maintain neutrality, expressing admiration for bravery on both sides of the conflict, and rendering aid to the injured without prejudice. The portrayal of war is sometimes more nuanced than usual for this type of book as well, making some effort to separate the actions of individuals from those of nations.
However, just because the portrayal of conflict is in some ways more subtle than in other similar books, nothing else about the volume offers much subtlety. The titular boys, a pair of cousins, are drawn with little shading: Jack is always right and does everything perfectly, and Amos simply follow’s Jack’s lead, fawning along the way. Back story tends to be filled in through expositionary dialogue, with absolutely no regard for naturalism. The book also expresses quite strong feelings for the value of unquestioning patriotism.
Along with other series books of this vintage, this title fills in more of the picture of how an active conflict was used to sell books to children in the early 20th century, and what messages publishers thought were appropriate to present in this context.
The entire book is available to read online or download in popular eBook formats through Project Gutenberg.