Friday, November 23, 2007

While the current moratorium on library lending makes life undeniably difficult for all history students, the growing array of electronic sources does make life less difficult than it might otherwise have been. In addition to Historical Abstracts, Academic Search Premier, Early English Books Online, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, and various treasures you probably already know about, there are others you might consider.

For one thing, the library continues to roll out new offerings on a permanent or trial basis: you can see what's new for yourself at

Don't forget to check out the History subject page in the library catalogue, which pulls links to most of the main electronic sources under one roof. When you click on the History link, it opens by default to the options for finding journal articles.

To see the offerings under books, click on the "Books & Theses" tab near the top of that page, and scroll down to check the options for "eBooks". You might get lucky and find just the tome you need, in its full searchable entirety.

One potentially useful option not presented on the library page is the University of California Press, a leading academic publisher that makes a surprising number of its books free to the universe via their "eScholarship Editions" web portal at
You can click on "View Public Titles" under the search box to filter out books that are not available for free. Note that the default for the simple search box on their site is a title search, so don't be surprised if your author search gathers zilch first time. Click here to see one especially useful book they offer free to everyone.

And don't forget that you can find amazing things at Google Books Search (not to be confused with a regular Google search), and Live Search Books. Both sites offer tens if not hundreds of thousands of out-of-copyright (but often still state-of-the-art) books that can be read and downloaded freely, and both sites also allow you the option of searching their entire holdings by keyword or a key phrase. That's a revolution. Both, and especially Live Search Books, offer access to significant portions of some brand new books, as well: don't assume that you won't find anything new there. Both sites are particularly valuable for finding 19th and early 20th century editions of earlier works, including diaries and editions of letters or public records that were never published in any other edition.