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eBook available: How to Become a Lightning Calculator

Our latest project to pass through Distributed Proofreaders into Project Gutenberg is How to Become a Lightning Calculator, part of a series of tiny chapbooks — around the size of playing cards — which were marketed as the “Smallest Magazine in the World:” the Multum in Parvo Library.

This particular issue, as the title suggests, is a collection of tips and tricks for performing mathematical operations more quickly, with the first half mostly concerned with basic arithmetic and the second half focused on financial matters, particularly interest calculations. Because of the text’s brevity and age, these tips may not be especially helpful to modern readers, but they serve as an interesting document of how math was presented to the general readership in the late 19th century.

If you want to dive deeper, you can read the entire book online, or download it in popular eBook formats, through Project Gutenberg.


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eBook available: The Safety First Club and the Flood

Our latest Project Gutenberg release, produced through the Distributed Proofreaders project, is The Safety First Club and the Flood by W. T. Nichols, the second book of a three-volume series about a group of teenagers whose club motto is “safety first.” While this was fairly transparently written with the intent of encouraging young readers to behave more responsibly, it also serves as a document of the slang, school life and pastimes of early 20th-century youth.

This particular volume focuses on the friendship between the titular club and an older boy from out of town. The boys experience fun, adventure and mishaps during snowy winter weather, and the title rather gives away what happens when all that snow starts to thaw….

If you’re interested in reading the book for yourself, it can be accessed online (or downloaded in popular eBook formats) through Project Gutenberg.


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eBook available: The Mystery of Cleverly

Our latest Digital Library item to make its way through the Distributed Proofreaders project into Project Gutenberg is George Barton’s The Mystery of Cleverly, a juvenile novel from 1907.

While the title contains the word “mystery,” and there is indeed a mysterious event which drives part of the plot, this is much more of a “success story” than a mystery. The plot revolves around Herbert Harkins, a youth from the small town of Cleverly who grows up to pursue a career in newspaper reporting, motivated in part by a desire to clear his father’s tarnished reputation.

If you would like to learn more about Herbert and his adventures, you can read the complete novel online (or download it in popular eBook formats) through Project Gutenberg.


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Available for proofreading: Nimble Ike, the Trick Ventriloquist

Quite a few years ago, we helped to create a Project Gutenberg edition of a dime novel called The Twin Ventriloquists; or, Nimble Ike and Jack the Juggler: A Tale of Strategy and Jugglery, which told the tale of a team-up between ventriloquist detectives and promised to reveal more about Nimble Ike’s origin story in a future volume. At long last, that future volume is available as our latest Distributed Proofreaders project.

You can learn how you can help turn the scans from our Digital Library into a modern eBook edition by reading our earlier blog post, Proofreading the Digital Library. If you decide to join in the work, you can visit the project page for an assignment until the project is completed.


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Available for proofreading: A Lad of Mettle

While many of our past Distributed Proofreaders projects have come from American dime novels, our latest is a distant cousin to those books: a British yellowback edition of Nat Gould’s juvenile novel, A Lad of Mettle. Like dime novels, yellowbacks were cheaply-produced books designed to entertain a mass audience. The main difference is that yellowbacks were hardbacks (named for the distinctive color frequently used on their covers and spines), while dime novels were paper-covered.

While this book was originally intended to be somewhat disposable, you can greatly extend its life by helping to convert scans from our Digital Library into a new electronic edition on Project Gutenberg. To learn how the process works, you can read our Proofreading the Digital Library blog post. When you’re ready to join in the work, you can visit the project page for an assignment!


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eBook available: The Airship Boys in the Great War

Another of our Distributed Proofreaders projects has been completed and added to the Project Gutenberg collection of free eBooks.

The Airship Boys in the Great War, published in 1915, is the eighth and final book in the “Airship Boys” series of aerial adventures. In this installment, the Airship Boys learn that a reporter friend has been held as a suspected spy in Germany at the outbreak of the first World War. They decide to use their high-speed aircraft, The Ocean Flyer, to rescue him, since the United States itself will not intervene due to its neutral position in the conflict.

This is a book of high adventure, without much regard to logic or plotting. The boys go from one incident to another as they explore the war zone, rescue their friend, and try to get home. As with many of the other juvenile war stories of the period, this book offers a glimpse into the way the conflict was represented to children.

While official American neutrality was still in full effect when the book was published, the author’s opinions certainly seem to show through in a few places. Paranoia about a German spy network operating in America is on full display here, and the book seems at least a little scornful of the neutral position, given that the plot involves the boys defying the American government to fulfill their mission. At the same time, the book glorifies the soldiers and emperor of Austria during its latter half.

If you are interested in taking a closer look at this small piece of history, 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: The Mystery of Cleverly

Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project is a juvenile mystery novel: George Barton’s The Mystery of Cleverly, first published in 1907.

With a winter storm on the way, now might be the perfect time to curl up with a virtual book and help convert the scans of this long-forgotten work from our Digital Library into a new electronic edition on Project Gutenberg. To learn how it works, you can read our Proofreading the Digital Library blog post. When you’re ready to join in the work, you can visit the project page for an assignment!

We’re also open to feedback on what we should run through the process next; if there are any books in the collection that you’d like to see which haven’t received the proofreading treatment yet, feel free to leave suggestions in the comment section here!


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Available for proofreading: Boy Scouts at Sea

The scouting movement was very popular in the early twentieth century, so it is not too surprising that a lot of juvenile novels were released featuring Boy Scouts and members of similar groups. Our latest Distributed Proofreaders project comes from this period: Arthur A. Carey’s Boy Scouts at Sea; or, A Chronicle of the B. S. S. Brightwing, first published in 1918.

As with all of our projects, you can volunteer to help turn the scans of this long-forgotten work from our Digital Library into a new electronic edition of the book on Project Gutenberg — just read our Proofreading the Digital Library blog post to learn how the process works, then sign up at the project page!


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eBook available: Camping in the Winter Woods

Our latest project to graduate from Distributed Proofreaders to Project Gutenberg is Camping in the Winter Woods, a 1912 juvenile novel by Elmer Russell Gregor.

In the book, two young men spend a winter in the Maine woods with a mentor, learning about the environment and its inhabitants. The book is episodic in nature, with each chapter dealing with a new hunting expedition, danger, or discovery. Many of these adventures serve to describe wildlife behavior and illustrate outdoor survival techniques.

The author followed this up with a sequel the next year: Camping on Western Trails, in which the protagonists explore the Rocky Mountains.

If you’re interested in reading the first adventure, it is now freely available for online reading (or download in popular eBook formats) through Project Gutenberg.


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Available for proofreading: Let Us Kiss and Part

Our latest title to join the Distributed Proofreaders project for inclusion in Project Gutenberg is Let Us Kiss and Part; or, A Shattered Tie, another novel by prolific story paper novelist Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller, author of The Bride of the Tomb (and countless other melodramas). The story was first serialized in Street & Smith’s New York Weekly story paper from November 20, 1897 to February 12, 1898, but we are working with a later paper-covered reprint from the early 20th century.

You can volunteer to help turn our scans of this long-forgotten work into a new electronic edition of the book — just read our Proofreading the Digital Library blog post to learn how the process works, then sign up at the project page!


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Last Modified: November 20, 2020