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.
Our 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.
Our 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.
Our 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.
Our 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.
For the past few years, we have occasionally worked with Distributed Proofreaders to create Project Gutenberg eBooks of titles from Frank Tousey‘s Ten Cent Hand Book line, a series of inexpensive booklets covering a wide variety of topics from taxidermy to detective work. The most recent addition to this collection of electronic texts is How to Make Candy, which doesn’t serve so well as a contemporary recipe book but is quite fascinating for what it reveals about historical candy-making, which apparently involved such disturbing and dangerous ingredients as tea-cups full of bullock’s blood and the occasional “half a grain” of mercury.
While you obviously should not try this at home, you can find the full text online at Project Gutenberg.
The illustration from the first installment of An Old Man’s Darling in the New York Family Story Paper.
Our latest Project Gutenberg eBook, produced with the help of Distributed Proofreaders, is An Old Man’s Darling by Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller, another of the author’s early efforts for The New York Family Story Paper, published later in the same year as The Bride of the Tomb and Queenie’s Terrible Secret. In this story, the young heroine receives a dire warning from a seaside fortune teller while visiting Cape May; unfortunately for her, it proves to be all too accurate, and she experiences more than her fair share of murder, deception and heartache before the inevitable happy conclusion.
The full text of the story can be downloaded or read online through Project Gutenberg. Readers might also be interested in looking at the original story paper installments from July 25 and August 1, 1881 to see some illustrations not found in later reprints of the tale.
Our latest eBook release, produced with the help of Distributed Proofreaders, is the final volume of the Dreadnought Boys series of early 20th-century naval adventures, following our earlier releases of The Dreadnought Boys on Battle Practice and The Dreadnought Boys on Aero Service. This time around, in The Dreadnought Boys in Home Waters, heroes Ned Strong and Herc Taylor are temporarily promoted so that they can command a small ship during a war simulation, but they soon find themselves embroiled in a plot forged by traitors and foreign spies. As usual for the series, there is plenty of action and not a lot of subtlety. To a greater degree than in earlier volumes discussed here, the period’s racism is visible through the book’s decidedly unflattering portrayal of the Japanese. While the book is unlikely to bring much joy to the contemporary reader on its own merits, it does serve as another interesting document of how military themes were being presented to young readers just before the start of World War I.
As usual, the full text of the book may be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.
As mentioned in our recent post about The Senator’s Bride, that novel was Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller’s only work to spawn a direct sequel. We are now ready to bring the sequel, The Senator’s Favorite, to wider availability in eBook form. By volunteering at the Distributed Proofreaders project, you can help expedite this process and perhaps have some fun in the process. Please read our earlier Proofreading the Digital Library post to learn how it works, then join in the work at the project page.
Our latest Project Gutenberg / Distributed Proofreaders eBook release is Leonie, the Typewriter, a self-described “thrilling romance of actual life” about the startling adventures of a young woman who operates a typewriter. First serialized in the New York Family Story Paper in 1890, and later reprinted as a stand-alone pamphlet, this is a good example of the period’s story paper melodrama, mashing together romance, crime drama and tragedy in an effort to appeal to a broad range of readers.
It is often commented that disguise was a significant trope of this period, and that these stories may have helped to break down traditional cultural barriers. Leonie nicely exemplifies this trend, with its female protagonist disguised as a boy for a good portion of the story, and students of gender studies will likely find the portrayal and some of the plot consequences quite interesting. The story is also remarkably fast-paced, wasting no time in getting to the melodramatic twists and turns, and featuring a few memorably horrific moments before reaching its inevitable happy conclusion.
The entire text of the novel may be read online or downloaded through Project Gutenberg.