Celebrating 34,000 Titles

July 5, 2017

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Distributed Proofreaders proudly celebrates its 34,000th unique title posted to Project Gutenberg, with the very apt A Manual of the Art of Bookbinding, by James B. Nicholson. Many thanks to all the DP volunteers who worked on it!

The Manual of the Art of Bookbinding, originally published in 1856 and reprinted in 1878, has everything you ever wanted to know about the hands-on side of bookbinding, and then some. It was designed for the amateur who wanted to bind just one book; or the collector who wanted to bind his private library of books; or the “practical workman” who wanted to learn the trade. Bookbinding was a popular trade back then, but it gradually fell out of favor during the 20th Century – until a devastating flood hit Florence in 1966, and experienced bookbinders were desperately needed to save priceless books damaged by the floodwaters. Even with the rise of e-books, independent bookbinders and conservators are still thriving, and bookbinding workshops for amateurs can be found all over the world.

As the subtitle promibookbinding_endpaperses, the Manual contains “Full Instructions in the Different Branches of Forwarding, Gilding, and Finishing,” along with “The Art of Marbling Book-Edges and Paper” – including lovely full-color examples of marbling. The Preface sneers that “nearly all the works written upon the subject [are] obsolete; their descriptions no longer apply to the methods practised by the best workmen.” Nonetheless, the Manual borrows heavily from its predecessors, claiming to adopt the “best” of them while rejecting the “obsolete.”

After an introduction reviewing the history of bookbinding, Part I focuses on “Sheet-Work,” beginning with the basic but crucial work of folding the printed sheets, “the beauty of a book depending on its being properly and correctly folded, so that, when it is cut, the margin of the different pages may be uniform throughout, and present no transpositions, to the inconvenience of the reader and deterioration of the work.” There are instructions for “beating” the folded sheets into a solid block – that is, laying them out on a special stone and striking them repeatedly with a hammer, a process that even then was already mechanized with presses in commercial bookbinding, but is described for the benefit of the amateur who wants to hand-bind a book. There’s even advice to keep one’s legs together while beating, “to avoid hernia.”

Part II is devoted to “forwarding,” the process of attaching the boards that will become the front and back covers, adding in the end-papers, covering the boards with fabric or leather, and gilding the page edges. It’s a lot more complicated than it sounds; this part of the Manual occupies over 120 pages of detailed instructions. The author repeatedly emphasizes the need for special care in this phase of bookbinding, particularly when binding for a private customer: “Let the workman who strives to excel in his art remember that his work goes through the hands of critics and judges; that it possibly may be compared with the productions of the most celebrated artists.”

The fun part is in Part III, a treatise on “Ornamental Art.” After a brief review of ornamental styles from ancient Egypt to the time of Louis XIV, the reader is introduced to the art of “finishing.” Here the author warns the would-be bookbinder to have “correct ideas in regard to taste, and be able to distinguish it from caprice or mere fancy,” for the laws of taste “can be easily learned, and they are unchangeable.” There are examples of good taste and bad taste, and of how to make the ornamentation appropriate to the contents of the book. There follows an extended practical exposition of the art, with plates illustrating classic design styles that can be tooled or stamped into the covers and spine of the book. There are precise instructions on gilding, polishing, coloring, and other finishing touches, as well as advice on restoring old books. There’s even a handy glossary of bookbinding terms.

Mindful of who the ultimate beneficiary of these efforts would be, the book also contains “Hints for Book-Collectors,” starting with the all-important rule, “Never write your name upon the title-page of a book.” We promise not to, now that we know how much work and creativity go into the lovely art of bookbinding.

 


O Canada

June 30, 2017

July 1, 2017, marks the 150th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation. In celebration, we offer this post – in English and in French – to announce Distributed Proofreaders’ posting of eight volumes of The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents to Project Gutenberg. This is an important series of reports, in French, Latin, and Italian, with English translations, from Jesuit missionaries in what is now Canada to their superiors. The reports contain a wealth of detail about 17th Century native Canadian culture and the interactions between natives and Europeans. Congratulations to all the DP volunteers who worked on this monumental series, and to the people of Canada!

jesuitrelationsThe Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents are the reports of the Jesuit missionaries in New France, who wrote to their superiors to give an account of their work in the New France colonies in what is now Canada. The original texts were in French, Latin and Italian. According to Wikipedia, “Annually, between 1632 and 1673, the superior compiled a narrative or ‘Relation’ of the most important events which had occurred in the several missionary districts under his charge, sometimes using the exact words of the missionaries and sometimes summarizing the individual journals in a general account, based in part also upon the oral reports of visiting fathers. This annual ‘Relation’ was forwarded to the provincial of the Order in France. After he reviewed and edited it, he published the account in a series of duodecimo volumes, known collectively as The Jesuit Relations. At times the Jesuit Relations read like travel narratives, describing geographical features and observations about the local peoples, flora, and fauna.”

The story of New France is also, in part, the story of much of New England, and of States whose shores are washed by the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. It may truly be said that the history of every one of our northern tier of commonwealths, from Maine to Minnesota, has its roots in the French régime. It is not true, as Bancroft avers, that the Jesuit was ever the pioneer of New France; we now know that in this land, as elsewhere in all ages, the trader nearly always preceded the priest. But the trader was not often a letter-writer or a diarist: hence, we owe our intimate knowledge of New France, particularly in the seventeenth century, chiefly to the wandering missionaries of the Society of Jesus.

This is how the preface of The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents commences. The series is a large and ambitious project which assembles as many of the “Relations” as possible. The entire series consists of 73 volumes, including two volumes of indices. Edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites, secretary of the Wisconsin Historical Society, the series unifies numerous original Relations translated into English with cross-references across the volumes. The Jesuit Relations also include many other papers, manuscripts and letters from the archives of the Society of Jesus covering a period from 1610 to 1791.

The Relations are considered to be a rich ethnographic source, as they give a very detailed description of the lives of the native people: their habits, customs, their social structure, their religious rituals and beliefs, their cuisine, their games, their clothes, their governance. The Relations also offer geographical information on the weather and the location of New France.

Currently volumes one through eight can be found as e-books at Project Gutenberg. The series starts with a thorough introduction by the editor describing the different tribes of the native people in New France and the Jesuit missions that took place there. Each volume presents the original text and the English translation side by side and offers explanatory and bibliographical notes, as well as facsimiles, maps and portraits of the missionaries. The editor has remained faithful to the original text. Volumes one through three feature the Abenaki Mission in Acadia (now part of eastern Quebec, the Maritime Provinces, and the U.S. state of Maine) from 1610 to 1616. Volumes four through eight conclude the Abenaki Mission and continue with the Quebec and Huron Mission from 1625 to 1636.

This post was contributed by eleni, the DP volunteer who post-processed the eight volumes of The Jesuit Relations.


Le 1er juillet 2017 marque le cent cinquantième anniversaire de la Confédération canadienne. Nous offrons de le célébrer en annonçant ici — en anglais et en français — l’envoi au Projet Gutenberg de huit volumes des «Relations des Jésuites et Documents Connexes». Il s’agit d’une importante série de rapports, en français, en latin et en italien, avec une traduction anglaise, que les missionnaires jésuites envoyèrent à leurs supérieurs depuis le pays qui est aujourd’hui le Canada. Ces rapports contiennent une foule de détails sur les civilisations indiennes autochtones du 17e siècle, et sur les relations entre autochtones et Européens. Nos compliments à tous les bénévoles de DP qui ont travaillé sur cette série monumentale, et à la population du Canada!

Les «Relations des Jésuites et Documents Connexes» sont les rapports que les missionnaires jésuites de la Nouvelle-France envoyèrent à leurs supérieurs pour rendre compte de leur travail dans les colonies de la Nouvelle-France, le Canada d’aujourd’hui. Les textes originaux étaient en français, en latin et en italien. Selon Wikipedia, «Chaque année, entre 1632 et 1673, le Supérieur compila un récit ou “Relation” des événements les plus importants survenus dans les postes missionnaires dont il avait la charge; il le fit parfois selon les mots exacts des missionnaires, parfois en résumant les mémoires individuels sous forme de rapport général, ce dernier s’appuyant également sur les rapports oraux des Pères invités. Cette “Relation” annuelle était transmise au Provincial de l’Ordre en France. Après examen et révision, celui-ci publiait le rapport en une série de volumes in-12; l’ensemble est connu sous le nom de “Relations des Jésuites”. Celles-ci se lisent parfois comme des récits de voyage, détaillant des traits géographiques et des observations sur les populations locales, la flore et la faune.»

«L’histoire de la Nouvelle-France est aussi, pour une part, celle d’une grande partie de la Nouvelle-Angleterre et des États dont les rives sont baignées par les Grands Lacs et le Mississipi. En vérité, on peut dire que, du Maine au Minnesota, l’histoire de chacun de nos États du nord a ses racines dans le régime français. Il n’est pas vrai, comme l’affirme Bancroft, que le Jésuite ait été le pionnier de la Nouvelle-France; nous savons qu’en ce pays, comme ailleurs de tout temps, le commerçant a presque toujours précédé le prêtre. Mais le commerçant était rarement épistolier ou chroniqueur: c’est donc surtout aux missionnaires itinérants de la Compagnie de Jésus que nous devons notre connaissance détaillée de la Nouvelle-France, particulièrement au dix-septième siècle.»

Ainsi commence la préface des «Relations des Jésuites et Documents Connexes». La série est un vaste et ambitieux projet qui rassemble le plus grand nombre de «Relations» possible. Elle comporte au total 73 volumes, y compris deux volumes d’index. Éditée par Reuben Gold Thwaites, secrétaire de la Société Historique du Wisconsin, elle présente de façon cohérente un grand nombre de «Relations» originales traduites en anglais, avec des références internes d’un volume à l’autre. Les «Relations des Jésuites» comprennent aussi nombre d’autres documents, manuscrits et lettres des archives de la Compagnie de Jésus, couvrant les années 1610 à 1791.

Les «Relations» sont considérées comme une riche source ethnographique, car elles offrent une description très détaillée de la vie des peuples autochtones: leurs habitudes, leurs coutumes, leurs structures sociales, leurs rituels religieux et leurs croyances, leur cuisine, leurs jeux, leurs vêtements, leurs institutions. Elles offrent également des informations géographiques sur le climat et la région de la Nouvelle-France.

À ce jour, les volumes 1 à 8 sont disponibles sous forme de livre électronique sur le site du Projet Gutenberg. La série commence par une introduction approfondie dans laquelle l’éditeur décrit les différentes tribus des peuples autochtones de la Nouvelle-France, et les missions jésuites qui s’y déroulèrent. Chaque volume présente côte à côte le texte original et la traduction anglaise, offrant des notes explicatives et bibliographiques ainsi que des fac-similés, des cartes et des portraits des missionnaires. L’éditeur est resté fidèle au texte original. Les volumes 1 à 3 présentent la mission abénaquise en Acadie (aujourd’hui une partie du Québec oriental, des provinces maritimes et de l’État nord-américain du Maine), de 1610 à 1616. Les volumes 4 à 8 vont au terme de la mission abénaquise, passant ensuite à la mission du Québec et des Hurons, de 1625 à 1636.

Ce post est une contribution d’eleni, bénévole de DP qui a assuré le post-processing des huit volumes des «Relations des Jésuites».

 


Decorated by Walter Crane

November 28, 2016

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Distributed Proofreaders celebrates its 33,000th title posted to Project Gutenberg.

“. . . decorated by Walter Crane.” As soon as I saw those words I knew I was sunk. When a fellow Distributed Proofreaders volunteer wrote and told me she’d stumbled across this book and it just reminded her of me (okay, she said it jumped up and down and screamed my name, but I digress), I had to check it out. And there it was: “. . .decorated by Walter Crane.” Walter Crane is one of my favorite illustrators. Right up there with H. R. Millar, Randolph Caldecott, Kate Greenaway. . .

A Flower Wedding title page“Decorated by Walter Crane.” A Flower Wedding is Distributed Proofreaders’ 33,000th e-book production. This beautiful little book tells the tale of the wedding of two flowers, their guests and even the feast. It was reprinted in 2014 for the exhibition of Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Young LAD’S LOVE had courted Miss Meadow·Sweet,
And the two soon agreed at the Altar to meet.

The flowers for the most part, scorn the names chosen by the botanists and claim the ones given them by the grandmothers, great-aunts, uncles and other loving gardeners who named them for their shape, beauty, colour and charm.

In Ladysmocks, Bridesmaids, Forget·me·not blue,
With their sashes all tied in Love·knot·true.

The gifts the guests brought would fill a fanciful home with treasures . . . decorated by Walter Crane.

Buttercups gold, and a Pitcher-plant
Nay, everything that a house could want.

The bride and groom ride off in a Venus flytrap with the guests calling after:

“Speedwell, and be happy,” their friends gaily say;

and the party continues.

The Wild-thyme they had, and the fuss that was made
Kept the guests in a rout thro’ the Deadly night shade.

Lavishly decorated by Walter Crane. He was remarkably prolific, painting not only illustrations in many children’s books, but also murals, flyers and posters for the Socialist movement, wallpapers, tiles, pottery. He also taught, and two of his books based on his lecture series, The Bases of Design and Line and Form, can be found on Project Gutenberg as well. He was not above scandal for the time. Firstly, he supported Socialist causes and, speaking of support, whilst Vice President of the Healthy and Artistic Dress Union, he illustrated a pamphlet, “How to Dress Without a Corset.” He attended a meeting of Boston anarchists and declared that he thought the Haymarket Square Riot convictions were wrong. This cost him a great deal of public support in the United States, including financial support. But it eventually blew over, and his beautiful art continued on. Our lives may be a bit richer, our children’s imaginations a bit fuller, because they were decorated by Walter Crane.

A Flower Wedding final illustration

This post was contributed by a DP volunteer.


Sweet Sixteen

October 1, 2016

coverIt’s time for another Distributed Proofreaders celebration: Our 16th Anniversary!

Last year, we commemorated our 15th Anniversary with a look back at our many accomplishments since DP’s founding on October 1, 2000. Here’s a retrospective on DP’s achievements over the last year.

Milestones

31,000 titles. In December 2015, DP posted its 31,000th unique title to Project Gutenberg, Colour in the Flower Garden. You can read all about it in this celebratory post.

32,000 titles. Just five months later, in May 2016, DP posted its 32,000th title, Tik-Tok of Oz. See the blog post on this milestone for more on this and other books in the beloved Oz series that DP has contributed to PG.

Significant Projects

The Expositor’s Bible. In December 2015, DP posted the second volume of The Expositor’s Bible: The Book of the Twelve Prophets, a 19th-Century commentary on the Bible by leading British theologians of the day. With 564 pages, 38 chapters, Hebrew, Greek, and Arabic quotations, and 1,556 footnotes, this single volume was a massive project in itself. But its posting marked the completion of a 50-volume set, all produced by DP – an outstanding achievement.

Charles Sumner’s complete works. In January 2016, DP posted the last of 20 volumes of Charles Sumner: His Complete Works, all contributed by DP. Charles Sumner (1811-1874) was an important 19th-Century American senator, abolitionist, and civil rights activist.

Princess Napraxine. Also in January, DP posted the third and final volume of Princess Napraxine, one of the most ambitious novels of the British writer Ouida (pen name of Maria Louise Ramé, 1839-1908). It is the tragic tale of a beautiful, worldly woman, the wealthy man obsessed with her, and the penniless young girl he marries to forget her.

Revolutionary correspondence. In July, DP posted the second volume of The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution. This completed a fascinating 12-volume set of letters involving nearly every significant figure in the American Revolution, edited by the noted 19th-Century historian Jared Sparks. DP contributed all 12 volumes.

15th Anniversary Projects

Over the last year, DP volunteers worked on a variety of projects that were selected especially for the 15th Anniversary celebration. Some have something to do with the number 15, others are of particular literary or historical significance. A quick look at these special projects shows the vast range of the books we work on at DP:

Over 2,000 Titles

DP posted a whopping 2,156 titles to PG over the last year.

Updating and Streamlining

As we’ve been churning out books, our volunteers have also been making significant updates to our site, including:

  • a full upgrade of our forum software
  • changes to the remote file manager
  • updates to WordCheck (DP’s spell checker)
  • improvements to the interface for viewing changes (“diffs”) made to the text of a project’s individual pages as it progresses through each round of proofreading or formatting
  • a new welcoming e-mail to new volunteers
  • updated (and much crisper) logos
  • a new Preview feature for formatters, and
  • the establishment of a DP Official Documentation wiki.

Happy Sweet Sixteen to all the DP volunteers who made these achievements possible!

 


Woman of Independence

July 4, 2016

Celebrations of American Independence generally focus on the men who made it happen. There were those who made it happen on paper, like John Adams, or Thomas Jefferson, or Benjamin Franklin. And there were those who made it happen on the battlefields, like George Washington, or Nathanael Greene, or Henry Knox. But there were no women in the Continental Congress, and no women in the Continental Army. As with many great historical events, women were, sadly, relegated to the sidelines.

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams as a newlywed, 1766

But one woman had an important influence on the great event of American Independence, albeit from the sidelines. Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, was her husband’s “dearest friend,” the mother of his children, the sounding board for his ideas.

Abigail Adams and Her Times, by Laura E. Richards (1917), is an engaging account, full of fascinating details that bring Colonial times to life. (“Snail-water,” a home remedy of the time for infants, is definitely not to be tried at home, and definitely not on infants.)

But Richards also brings Abigail herself to life. The great frustration of Abigail’s biographers has always been that she never kept a diary. Her youth and the early days of her marriage are not all that well documented. Although John Adams kept a diary, he only occasionally mentioned his wife in it. We learn who she is primarily from the many letters she exchanged with him — but that correspondence didn’t begin in earnest until a decade after their marriage, when he was thoroughly embroiled in the fight for American Independence and was away from home for long periods of time.

Richards deftly mines the letters for clues to Abigail’s character and personality. Abigail frequently signed herself “Portia,” after Shakespeare’s artful heroine. Her support for John’s important work was wholehearted, but she also urged him to consider greater rights for women:

… in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

Alas, Abigail’s hopes were not realized for nearly 150 years, but to John’s news that the Continental Congress had voted in favor of independence, she joyfully wrote:

By yesterday’s post I received two letters dated 3d and 4th of July, and though your letters never fail to give me pleasure, be the subject what it will, yet it was greatly heightened by the prospect of the future happiness and glory of our country. Nor am I a little gratified when I reflect that a person so nearly connected with me has had the honor of being a principal actor in laying a foundation for its future greatness.

May the foundation of our new Constitution be Justice, Truth, Righteousness! Like the wise man’s house, may it be founded upon these rocks, and then neither storm nor tempests will overthrow it!

Abigail remained John’s closest and most trusted adviser throughout the Revolution, during his Presidency, and afterward, while the titans who created the new nation struggled and quarreled over how it should be governed. Their joint epitaph is a fitting tribute to their partnership:

During an union of more than half a century they survived, in harmony of sentiment, principle, and affection, the tempests of civil commotion; meeting undaunted and surmounting the terrors and trials of that revolution, which secured the freedom of their country; improved the condition of their times; and brightened the prospects of futurity to the race of man upon earth.

July 4, 2016, is the 240th anniversary of American Independence.


Celebrating 32,000 Titles

May 28, 2016

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Distributed Proofreaders is proud to celebrate its 32,000th title, Tik-Tok of Oz — many thanks to all the volunteers who worked on it!

The Wonderful Volumes of Oz – We’re off to see the Wizard!

Who among us has NOT seen the classic fairy tale The Wizard of Oz on television? Ah, but have you READ the original and the other volumes in the series?? Thanks to Distributed Proofreaders, there is no excuse!!

All of the volumes written by L. (Lyman) Frank Baum have been processed at DP. All are available on Project Gutenberg as text-only versions; but most, like our 32,000th title, have been redone with all of the original illustrations!

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L. Frank Baum Oz Book List
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Marvelous Land of Oz
Ozma of Oz
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
The Road to Oz
The Emerald City of Oz
The Patchwork Girl of Oz
Tik-Tok of Oz
The Scarecrow of Oz
Rinkitink in Oz
The Lost Princess of Oz
The Tin Woodman of Oz
The Magic of Oz
Glinda of Oz
Little Wizard Stories of Oz

The volume Tik-Tok of Oz is the latest to complete the journey through DP. Many of the characters from previous volumes make a reappearance, including Glinda, the Cowardly Lion, Betsy Bobbin, the Shaggy Man, Hank (the mule), Ozga and Polychrome, Dorothy, and Toto (too!). Tik-Tok, Queen Ann Soforth, Nome King, and Tittiti-Hoochoo are some of the new characters introduced in this volume.

Queen Ann Soforth of Oogaboo sets out to raise an army to conquer the Nome King. Betsy, Tik-Tok (a mechanical man who is guaranteed to work perfectly for a thousand years), Shaggy Man (with his Love Magnet), and a number of other characters team up with Queen Ann’ s “noble army” and save Oz!

I’ll confess that I have so far read only a few of the Oz tales. So, most of the characters are new to me. This is one of the best reasons to participate in activities such as Distributed Proofreaders—you may discover new treasures which were beloved a hundred years ago and still resonate today.

Although one person takes on the responsibility to transform a text file into a readable text version and an HTML version with coding to produce mobile versions (epub and mobi), each project requires quite a few folks to produce images, and to check the spelling, punctuation, and formatting. Tik-Tok took more than 60 DP volunteers to reach the post-processing stage. See this article for more on the DP process.

Now that I have completed this volume (I’ve read and helped produce the next in the series, The Scarecrow of Oz), I am looking forward to “catching up” on the others! Oh, by the way, did you know ALL of the animals CAN talk in Oz? Read Tik-Tok to hear what Toto has to say!

This post was contributed by Tom Cosmas, a DP volunteer who post-processed this project.


DP Celebrates 31,000 Titles

December 27, 2015

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Distributed Proofreaders is proud to celebrate its 31,000th title, Colour in the Flower Garden — many thanks to all the volunteers who worked on it!

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WHITE LILIES.

Gertrude Jekyll, probably (after Capability Brown) the most famous English garden designer, lived from 1843 to 1932 and created at least 400 major gardens within Europe and North America, often working closely with the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. She set out to develop a career as a painter, but developed an interest in the use of colour in planting, and, possibly prompted by deteriorating eyesight, moved into garden design. She was heavily influenced by Impressionism, eschewing excessive formality in design and planting.

Her book Colour in the Flower Garden sums up the experience of 40 years, using the garden she designed for herself at Munstead Wood. The book describes her philosophy in detail and gives detailed planting schemes for many areas of the garden, but is by no means prescriptive. She describes what she has done and why, and lets the results speak for themselves.

It is also profusely illustrated with, regrettably monochrome, photographs of the garden.

For the gardener, it is a very accessible and interesting record, but from an age and of a scale which make it, perhaps, less than useful.

Two quotations give a flavour of the scale and ambition.

Talking of flower borders: “I believe that the only way in which it can be made successful is to devote certain borders to certain times of year; each border or garden region to be bright for from one to three months.”

And about one area of her garden: “Ten acres is but a small area for a bit of woodland, yet it can be made apparently much larger by well-considered treatment.”

I look out at my own garden (20 x 8 meters) and think, “I grow plants, but this is not, by Jekyll’s standards, a garden.”

This post was contributed by Les Galloway, a DP volunteer who post-processed this project.

 


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