Christmas Past and Present

Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone. – Charles Schulz

It’s December 16, 1913 and, as always, I’ve left my Christmas shopping until the very last minute. I’ve spent this morning creating a list of my family of book-lovers and searching the Eaton’s Catalog to find the perfect gifts. I think perhaps I will cut out the images of these books and paste them into the cards for my family so they might know that they will be receiving these books sometime in February.

If only there was a quicker method of receiving these books, like a magic screen I could look at and just make the pages of these books appear…

Whoa. What was that? And what the H*#% am I wearing? Nevermind that! The Eaton’s 1913 catalog has transformed itself into just the screen I was thinking about, and it has a series of buttons attached to it which mirror the QWERTY typewriters I’ve heard so much about! This machine is telling me that its now December 16th, 2011… and as my new-age capacity to deal with technology sets in, all I can hear in my head is “Google it… Google it… Google it.”

For Dad

Mortars, plasters, stuccos, artificial marbles, concretes, portland cements and compositions …

Catalog #34-272

Author: Fred T. Hodgson

Place: Chicago

Year: 1906

Found this full text online at the Internet Archive’s Open Library. Although it is the same book, I believe the 300 page cloth-bound edition that appears in the catalog might be a later edition than the one available online.

For Mum

The White House Cook Book

Catalog # 34-195

Author: Mrs. F.L. Gillette

Place: New York

Year: 1887

The best online version of this book I could find was part of the Project Gutenberg project. The book has been redesigned as one long script, but the chapters are hyper-linked and the text is keyword searchable. Also included are scans of the original, showing various cuts of meat and photos of all of the First-Ladies.

For Edith and Andrew

What a Young Wife Ought to Know/What a Young Husband Ought to Know

Catalog # 34-180

Author: Emma F. Angell Drake

Place: Philadelphia

Year: 1908

Catalog # 34-181

Author: Sylvanus Stall

Place: Philadelphia

Year: 1907

These two books were both found using Google, and the search led me directly to the Internet Archive. What’s great about this site is that it allows you to download the book in a series of formats (PDF, plain text, daisy, Epub) or to simply read the book online. It also provides a good deal of information about where else the book can be found online, and about the physical document itself, so you can get exactly the gift you want to give!

For Thomas

The New Century standard Letter-Writer

Catalog # 34-200

Author: Alfred B. Chambers, Ph.D

Place: Chicago

Year: 1900

Once again, Open Library provided the best version of this book available online. Given the age of the book, I couldn’t believe what a clear set of scans were available. Reading these letters, and looking over the reasons that letters used to be deemed necessary gives one a sense of nostalgia very fitting for this time of year. I might just keep this one for myself and get Thomas a Toblerone.

For Ruth

Through the Looking-Glass

Catalog # 34-352

Author: Lewis Carrol

Place: London

Year: 1871

There are very many copies of this book available online, but because of the ease of use of the University of Virginia’s Etext library version, and because they kept the original John Tenniel drawings, I thought this was the best version for my 13 year old sister.

For Robert

The Boy Scouts in the Rockies

Catalog # ??? page N 286

Author: Herbert Carter

Place: New York

Year: 1913

Although the origin for this book is Project Gutenberg, I much preferred the layout of the ManyBooks page, which gives you information about the book, a short synopsis, an excerpt and then allows you to choose to download in one of 24 formats.

What surprised me most about my search for these books in 2011 was the ease with which most of them could be found. For anyone simply wanting to read these books from times gone by, it wouldn’t take long to find most of these online. I think, however, that one going in search of a specific edition of a book might have a much harder time in their quest. Luckily for me, my family is unaware of my ability to time travel ( as was I just a short time ago) so they should enjoy their books regardless of the edition I was able to find. Now if I can only find a way to lug this machine back to 1913…

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