This list is based on the way I organize completed e-texts on my hard drive. Within each group, I’ve tried to put closely related files together. Some titles are listed more than once if they fit into multiple categories.
Items in green are solo productions, including HTML-izations and remakes. Items with notes include .midi files, usually generated by lilypond.
Category headings link back to the next higher category. Underlined links lead elsewhere—generally to Project Gutenberg.
Oh, and . . . There are items on this list that I swear I do not remember post-processing. I have to look up the file just to see what the text was. Sometimes I still don’t remember it.
Personal e-books page
The word “early” refers to texts that were physically printed before 1800 or so, not simply written at an early date. It also includes facsimile editions and anything from the Early English Text Society or similar.EETS (Early English Text Society)
Technically not an EETS production. But the style and subject matter are so similar, it belongs in this list.
In the interest of going out with a bang, I made this my final Distributed Proofreaders book. As such, it was seven years in the making—coming on top of a thousand or so for Ælfric to fall into the hands of Julius Zupitza in 1880. Zupitza himself seems to have got tired; he talks about a second volume, making do with a vorläufiges Vorwort in this one, but the second half never saw the light of day.
As far as I know, this remains the only critical edition of Æalfric’s Grammar and Glossary. Most unnerving discovery: people in the tenth century said—and wrote—“ax” for “ask” just as often as they do today. Extravagant thanks to DP’s Stephen Rowland for going above and beyond the call of duty in every aspect of e-book preparation.
If you think you know how to write out a simple sum, read this book. By the time you have plowed through a three-page explanation of how to put down the two and carry the one, you will no longer be able to add two plus two.
Like Ælfric above, this was not an EETS publication, but it belongs here. The Notes were finished almost exactly five years after the body text. Part of the delay is mine, but most of it is because, as the Project Manager accurately predicted, “the notes will rocket through [proofreading] like a fossil to the surface”.
Written on the 16th-century equivalent of the backs of envelopes and unpaid bills. When he had something confidential to record, he switched to Greek. Not the language, just the alphabet. When he lapses into Greek to observe that Ιανε ἁδ θεμ νοτ (Jane had them not), you can skip forward 7 or 8 months and find a plain-English report of the birth of another child. The editor was utterly baffled by this recurring observation.
The author, Hilda Murray, was one of the ten highly educated children—including five highly educated daughters—of the Oxford English Dictionary’s James Murray. The only thing that prevented her from walking away with an Oxford First was that in her time, the universities did not yet confer degrees on women. Classes and examinations, yes. Degrees, no.
That’s three separate titles, each drawing on three MSS, published in a single volume. At the suggestion of one of the other people who worked on the project, I made an expanded version that lets you exclude one or two MSS, along with optional color coding. You’ll find it in my personal e-books area.
The 1906 Gairdner edition. All titles exist online in two slightly different forms: the free-standing versions posted to Project Gutenberg, and the interlinked versions posted here.
The very first book I ever post-processed. I didn’t know how to do CSS, so it’s raw HTML. So far I have not had the nerve to excavate the book and fix it.
Glorious book. The body text lapses into any of five sizes, with about the same number of different kinds of sidenote. At the end, there’s a jaw-droppingly vast and complicated table-like thing.
One of the all-time greats. Translated from Italian, with low-budget replica illustrations that start to fizzle out about halfway. Look closely and you’ll see how the English illustrator also mangled the occasional bit of Hebrew text by rewrapping the lines—as if the language were written left to right, like English. I hope some day we can do the Italian original.
Geometrical knowledge, that is. But don’t look for proofs; the author has reserved those for the second volume.
OK, I cheated. It’s a 19th-century edition of an early-19th-century edition of a 16th-century original. But it’s very close to a typographic facsimile—right down to the long esses.
More cheating. This is a modern edition. But the spelling is original.
I coveted this book almost from the day it appeared in the rounds, and was finally able to grab it when it was either abandoned by or forcibly repossessed from its original post-processor. This has happened surprisingly often.
While I was working on this I felt as if the work would come out as a pale shadow of Hypnerotomachia. But I guess it’s pretty nice overall.
I am very glad I solicited DP’s opinion on the HTML version. It was near Valentine’s day, and the entire book is about sweets, so I thought a pale pink background color would be appealing. Instead, the color put readers strongly in mind of Pepto-Bismol and similar thick pink liquids from the drugstore. Oops.
There’s nothing extraordinary about this book—except that it’s the one that got me bumped upstairs to Direct Uploading. The people in charge were probably ecstatic, as it meant that two horrible Latin books (Varro and Plautus, I think) could be thrown back into my lap instead of having to be Verified. I also got to reclaim three Augustan Reprints—and, of course, do all the paranoid tests all over again.
See under Modern Latin.
See under Drama
As far as I’m concerned, the world can be divided into two groups: people who love Tristram Shandy, and people who have not yet read Tristram Shandy. Fortunately the Project Gutenberg whitewasher who handled this text fell into the first group. One of the two HTML versions includes things like scripting that are normally strict no-nos. There was no other way to make the e-text match your physical screen in the way that the printed book matched the physical page.
For a while there, I and a couple of other people would fight and claw for each Augustan Reprint as it came out. Then I discovered hard drugs in the form of the Early English Text Society, and there was no going back.
I think this was the second book I got posted.
Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century bathroom humor. If you have an eleven-year-old relative who doesn’t see the point of all this Gutenberg stuff, have them read this pair of books.
Written by a woman, please note. Since women in the 18th century were not allowed into the English universities, and since the said universities had no interest in the English language—whether history or literature—there was nothing to prevent women from becoming every bit as well-informed as men about the history of the language.
Or rather, seven different introductions to Pamela, evolving through the successive editions of the book. You don’t usually have this many marginal squiggles to deal with.
The ARS seems to love pulling together two of something. Pity we don’t have a dual number; it would really help in the titling.
Here, the second parody uses “The Queen of Hearts / She made some tarts” as its starting point. By way of comparison, it observes that Aeneas may not have known whose deer he was shooting, but he must have known they were not his. The piece was written by an Eton student for an unofficial newspaper. Reading it, you can’t help thinking that the author will Go Far. And, in fact, he ended up as a fairly noted parliamentarian. Isn’t that gratifying?
By the time you finish reading this essay, you will feel as if you will never laugh again.
Every time I try to count I come up with a different number, but I think I have done books in about fifteen different languages. Some of those are one-offs, though. Apart from English, it’s mostly German and Latin.Grammars, Dictionaries, Textbooks
The Project Manager tried to talk me into committing to the whole series of Chips, but I put my fingers in my ears and hummed loudly. She got the last laugh when it turned out that the Index in Volume IV also covers Volume III—which had long since been completed, in all innocence, by someone else. Fortunately their text included page anchors.
See under Other Languages
I might have loved.
Thou mightest have loved.
He might have loved.
We might have loved.
You might have loved.
They might have loved.
Otherwise known as The Apicius Atrocity. One of the books that got dumped back in my lap when I got kicked upstairs to Direct Uploading. As with others of similar vintage, I have not yet had the nerve to look back and see just how atrocious the HTML is.
Otherwise known as the Varro-monster.
After I did this book, I declared that if I ever again sign up for a 300-page project, please take me out and shoot me.
First book I ever spell-checked. Really. American academic writing from around 1920. I set the spell checker to “Canadian” and it worked a treat.
See above about 300-page projects. In this case, the book’s extreme yumminess outweighed its extreme 1300-pages-ness. I post-processed it in chunks, doing each Book (70 pages or so) as it emerged from proofing. 70 pages every two months or so is a manageable pace.
“Modern” means anything written after Latin was a dead language, here ranging from the 16th through the 19th century.
Really fabulous book. Unavailable for years. There exists a modern (1975) translation, but nothing in the public domain.
Once upon a time, all German dissertations were written in Latin. Happily, this meant they were not in Fraktur. Unhappily, this makes it easier to see how pointless and boring it is. The book isn’t really about Medici Publici at all—which would have been interesting—but is merely an exhaustive catalogue of all epigraphic evidence pertaining to med. pub. Yawn. German scholars used to be masters at this kind of thing.
Broken into four pieces for PG/DP purposes. One of these years, Volume 2 (five more pieces) will get done.
By John Caius, namesake of (Gonville and) Caius College, Cambridge. In his time of course it was only Gonville. Unless I am reading the whole thing upside-down and backward, there appears to have been an early version of “New Style” pronunciation in vogue at Cambridge in Caius’s time. He hated this with a passion, reasoning that modern Italian and Greek must be the closest in pronunciation to the classical languages. You tell ’em, John.
Lots of fun, though more than a little confusing if you’re not used to Old Style (i.e. just like English) pronunciation. “Never jam today,” “Yes you Canuleia” and similar. Thanks to DP’s Flashman for smooth-reading the whole thing with meticulous attention to detail.
I figured that Project Gutenberg will not soon put out another Latin textbook, so I made six count ’em six versions: plain-text UTF-8, Latin-1, Mac and ASCII-7, and two HTML. One in UTF-8 with the normal style sheeets; one in raw HTML using HTML entities and no CSS, designed for very old or grumpy browsers.
Not Old Style, but I can’t really say as how I agree with her readings. I kinda think most people today wouldn’t. It was funny rendering ϝ (digamma) as #w# when the author doesn’t even believe it was pronounced that way.
The author, George Lane, died before completing the work, leaving his colleagues to finish the task. They, in turn, found urgent business elsewhere, until Morris H. Morgan alone was left holding the short straw.
I ignored this book for years, thinking it was a boring autobiography. Turned out to be Romanian fairy tales told in German as a textbook.
When the plot flags, bring in a lion. It will make the action get really, really ... boring. Who’d have guessed?
Very, very funny book. The title character is away from home for two dreadful nights, or is it three?, on one of which he is awakened seventeen times in a row by the same puppy emerging from the same hole in the same wall. He also accidentally steals someone’s shoes and, much against his will, assists at an elopement, before returning home exhausted to the care of his Dr. Mittelweile*—who had rashly advised him to travel for his health—vowing never to leave home again.
* Never did figure out if that means the Good Doctor talks more, or less, than if he had been named Langweile.
I made Team Germany an offer they couldn’t refuse: if they’d take care of one Pyrker abomination (each one is 400 pages, by an author who is not the German language’s answer to Homer), I’d take the other one.
The translation has eleven volumes—two chapters per. This is a team effort, with a German doing the spell checking before I take over to do the fun stuff. Mercifully, someone else may step in to do the final few volumes.
The German translation hit DP before the original. It’s got a funnier cover, too.
Biography of the artist, loaded with gorgeous illustrations. I think this was the first really heavily illustrated book I did.
I always forget the correct title of this play and think of it as Smiles of a Summer Night (Sommernattsmil). Well, it’s a reasonable analogy.
Low-budget fiction translated from English.
Another translation, this time a biography. Guess who it’s about. The original was written in Nebraska ... in Danish.
Sometimes there is a gap in Swedish post-processing. But we all agreed that we wouldn’t touch Barnavännen (Christian periodical for children) with a barge pole, so periodically a non-Swedish-speaker has to take pity on it.
These were done during a spell when there were no Danish post-processors. Normally it wouldn’t make a huge difference, considering the state of the pre-1922 Norwegian language, but Aakjær wrote in some obscure, horrendous dialect requiring multiple footnotes. In some cases, the footnotes turn out to refer to words that would be the same in Norwegian—but are different in standard Danish.
Same story here. The most active Dutch post-processor was temporarily tied up in what we are pleased to call Real Life, so I got caught up. With extravagant thanks to Team Netherlands for answering any and all questions.
I did most of the Latin bits, and eventually repackaged the whole anthology.
Can’t remember how or why I was talked into doing this one. I had to do some searching to verify that the language is 17th-century Gascon. Despite the title and the recurring mau (Gascon reflex of “mal”), I was sadly forced to conclude that it is not about a cat.
I was dragooned into taking over this project by another DP’er who shall remain nameless. Here’s the odd part: at the time I worked on this book, I had no idea what Inuktitut was. Just that it was, um, some Canadian language. Looking at it now, I’m not sure I would even recognize it as Inuktitut if I didn’t know. All those vowels! And I sure hope the ubiquitous -ib ending is the Labradorean reflex of -up, because I can’t think what else it might be.
See under Textbooks. Thanks to Charlie Lippert for the remake.
Yes, you got that right. Instruction in the Japanese language, written in Latin for the benefit of Portuguese missionaries.
With thanks to my father for sorting out the typos in the really amazing variety of dialects involved.
For the whole fascinating history, you’ll have to see the Project Page at Distributed Proofreaders.
Some of these aren’t picture books in the conventional sense. They’re adult fiction with such extensive illustration, I had to list them here.
In the HTML version, the “alt” attribute for all illustrations used the word “rooster” in hopes that this would cut down on the number of unintended search-engine hits. Doubt it did any good, though.
Two of those wonderful Caldecott miniatures. Post-processors tend to kick and claw for the fun of working on them.
The series also includes the slightly more famous Little Black Sambo, but I didn’t manage to snabble that one, darn it.
Charles Bennett, 1860. A really wonderful little picture book, even if the cat does use up all nine of its lives. It’s fun to imagine the story’s beginnings in the author’s family, with papa reciting “How-many-lives-has-the cat . . . got?” and the children shouting “EIGHT!”
You’d think this is a children’s book, but it turned out not to be. Loads of pictures, though.
19th-century humor and travel book and illustrations. Who could ask for more?
Some of these are nonfiction. Well, for a given definition of “nonfiction”.
By A.L.O.E. (“A Lady of England”, Charlotte Maria Tucker). This edition is 1864, but there may have been an earlier one; internal evidence suggests that it was written right after the Crimean war. The narrator is a rat, hence the title, but the story has much more to do with human morality. The main messages are “Be kind to the poor” and “Russians are human”.
Characters have great names, like “Whiskerandos” and the Russian “Dwishtswatshiksky”, Wisky for short. The author says that all her accounts of rat behavior are based on fact—except for the shipwreck chapter, which she admits she made up (at least she knows that rats can swim!)—giving us some lovely examples of ratty altruism.
On the down side, the title-page “rats” look a lot more like ferrets. The author does not appear to know that rats come in both male and female; in fact the story barely even acknowledges that humans do! In the Zoological Gardens chapters there’s some fun stuff about other rodents, including the German hamster (Syrian hamsters hadn’t been formally discovered yet), whose personality is exactly as described.
Fun fact: At the time this book was written, rats and their closest relatives really were grouped into the genus Mus. The current classification featuring genus Rattus didn’t become standardized until well into the 20th century.
Dated 1822; published anonymously, but the author is known to be Catharine Parr Traill, one of several Canadian sisters who all wrote books. Sometimes it is hard to tell them apart. This one’s a “be kind to animals” story which, in approved 19th-century fashion, doesn’t hesitate to kill animals to make its point. The important thing is to make the humans feel bad.
See personal e-books page for more about all these. Perez the Mouse is the Spanish-speaking world’s answer to the tooth fairy.
I liked Die Biene Maja so much, I hunted down the English translation. Barely under the wire, from 1922. It’s only so-so as a translation, but it has pretty pictures.
Sure, sure, that’s what they all say.
The first in a series of schoolbooks about early humans. Might be fun to have a modern anthropologist look it over and see which parts agree with current interpretations and which parts don’t.
The title makes it sound as if it was one in a series. But as far as I can make out, there weren’t any others. The title puts us back in “for a given definition” territory, since the “great men” include Lucretia as well as Cornelia-the-mother-of-the-Gracchi.
Weekly periodical published over a span of several years. For some reason, only these four ever hit PGDP. As soon as I’d got the hang of them, there were no more.
The series was originally just The Blue and the Gray. But then he cranked out a second series based on the Army, so he had to retroactively rename the first series.
The Great American Novel. No argument. Alongside the “straight” Project Gutenberg version, I made a MiSTed version to incorporate everything the proofers said, and everything the proofers wish they had said, and everything the proofers didn’t think of in time, and...
I discovered this miracle while hunting down the sources of quoted passages in Alonzo and Melissa. As far as I can make out, every single word of the book is plagiarized; see the completed e-text for details.
In addition to Alonzo and Melissa—which gave a six-chapter chunk as well as many shorter pieces—major donors include The New-York Weekly (1796-97 literary magazine published in a bound volume), Duke Bernhard’s Travels through North America—four chapters—and several history textbooks. Character descriptions tend to be pulled from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Travels was later released through Distributed Proofreaders, and I did The New-York Weekly as a solo.
I just love this book. Written by a grandniece of Mark Twain. But you don’t have to be a Twain relative to achieve that inimitable 19th-century—or, in this case, 1912—humor. If all you know of this title is the forgettable Fred Astaire / Leslie Caron movie that was vaguely based on the book, you are in for a treat.
Genre: Random Canadian Fiction (RCF).
Genre: Random Irish Fiction. The author, Amanda M‘Kitrick Ros, is a perennial contender for a place on the Ten Worst Writers Ever list. She especially liked alliterative names.
Here I will have to quote from the Project Comments for the Publisher’s Advertising section:
“I was Post-Processing a book whose publisher’s device—the logo thingie on the title page—was hopelessly illegible. So I went looking for another book from the same publisher. Turns out they changed devices every five minutes, so the first match I found for my 1875 book was an 1872 edition of The American Baron, online at the Internet Archive. Doesn’t everyone download 150-megabyte files in order to get a better copy of a two-kilobyte decoration?
“When I noticed that the book was filled with pictures I had to check whether Project Gutenberg had it. They do—it came through DP a few years ago—but as text only. So the first thing on the agenda was to add an illustrated HTML version.”
An absolute ripoff. In the first chapter, the title character and all her sisters lounge around in pink pajamas, know everything in the world—except where human babies come from—and trounce male visitors at tennis and chess. Then they all move to New York, put on corsets, and start getting married in rapid succession.
The author never mentions the girls’ mother. Perhaps after eight children in eight years she simply decided she had had it.
I pulled this out of The New-York Weekly—one of Alida’s donors—where it ran in four installments. A surprisingly interesting story that dates way back, though apparently not written by Marie de France, darn it.
Horrible, horrible book. Billed as the first English comedy, but you could have fooled me. Not unfunny, just, well, not funny. And it’s edited by the unspeakable Edward Arber, so the pages are an incoherent mess. In some parts I resorted to making an alternative, simplified HTML version to help people who found the original hopelessly chaotic.
For many years, the definitive critical edition. Has now been superseded, but still definitely worth putting online.
The first volume is plays. By the time you get to volumes 4 and 5, we’re in miscellaneous short fiction. Incidentally, I always thought of her as “Affra”. Turns out it’s “Ayfra”. We know because she sometimes spelled her name that way.
Early 19th-century American periodical. Each issue came with a complete play, usually of MiST caliber.
Not the play as Shakespeare wrote it, but Kean’s acting edition.
The last few items can be labeled “Forgettable Modern Plays”. The author of Cromwell dealt with the Richard Problem by simply ignoring his existence, and conflated all of Oliver’s daughters into a single Bridget.
This title will not show up on other lists. Someone else (Chuck Greif, I think) did the text and all the preparatory work; I just swung by and did the HTML.
Where “Songs” means lyric poetry. No music involved.
I never formally planned to do the whole series. It just worked out that way.
See under German Nonfiction.
Published monthly. I just happened to pick up this one.
Munsell somehow manages to come across as a complete crackpot, even though the things he says make perfect sense.
Another behemoth. The original was 700 heavily illustrated pages; the ebook is distributed among seven html files. The author of John Baptist Jackson (above) describes it as “The classic work on the subject; scholarly, objective, and voluminously illustrated.” For a given definition of “objective”, anyway.
Except for the finished Annual Reports and the next few listed articles (ebook numbers 30000 and up), most of these texts are due for a remake to upgrade the illustrations.
There was a Bureau of Ethnology binge in the second half of 2005 when Distributed Proofreaders went through The Great Change and post-processors were starving. I tended to grab anything about architecture or language. Shortly afterward, I got conned into taking over The Mask, making me co-responsible for BAE projects from their inception.
The Ungava District corresponds loosely to modern Nunavik. At the time this article was written, the area had not yet been swiped by Quebec. There were two main ethnic groups, one Inuit and one not.
By Franz Boas, no less. Among his other achievements he is responsible for the “fifty words for snow” mythology. But he generally had better sense, as shown in this article. Boas refused to use the BAE’s system of phonetic notation. Luckily his own system was based on Kleinschmidt, so it’s generally quite readable today. Most music in this article was generated by the PGDP Finale Team.
The Music section of the article—about ten pages—is separately available in my personal e-books area as The Killer’s Song.
That’s Point Barrow as in Barrow, Alaska, making this the third and last of the BAE’s major publications on Arctic groups. Here as elsewhere in the BAE corpus, the author’s innate intelligence tends to rise above prevailing assumptions:
It was exceedingly difficult to get any idea of the religious belief of the people, partly from our inability to make ourselves understood in regard to abstract ideas and partly from ignorance on our part of the proper method of conducting such inquiries. For instance, in trying to get at their ideas of a future life, we could only ask “Where does a man go when he dies?” to which we, of course, received the obvious answer, “To the cemetery!”
The section of the article dealing with clothing, including patterns, is separately available.
Originally produced in 2006; HTML remade in 2010 with the proper illustrations.
Yes, four of ’em, distributed over three issues. You would not think there could be so many clay pots on one planet, let alone collected from a small area in a single season.
John Caius, grudgingly writing in English to reach the largest possible audience. (Non-English speakers didn’t matter, because the “sweating sickness” was largely confined to England.) The obligatory “Do Not Try This At Home”.
An enormously popular book in the first half of the 19th century, going through many editions—and written by a woman. I did feel obliged to sprinkle it liberally with “Do Not Try This At Home” notations. The suggestion that you can block out the smell of chlorine by holding an ammonia-soaked handkerchief up to your nose is especially appealing.
The word “manure” means fertilizer. If you want manure in the modern sense, that’s “farmyard manure”.
This group of three books may collectively be filed under “Quack Medicine”. The first two are the printed equivalent of infomercials. The third is an illustration of what you could get away with when each state gave out its own medical licenses and there was no such thing as criminal malpractice.
An awful disappointment. It isn’t about the development over millions of years of (pre)history, it’s about embryonic development here and now. With lots and lots of pictures giving a precise scale.
See elsewhere about “Do Not Try This At Home”. But this is the first time I felt compelled to say “The opinions expressed in this book are not necessarily those of the transcriber.” The phrase is, of course, standard editorial gobbledygook. Here it is a euphemism for The transcriber thinks that describing the Ihalmiut as a “happy-go-lucky and improvident people” whose problems were largely of their own making is pretty vile.
That's volume two of, er, two and a quarter: the magazine was only published for a little over two years. I’ve only ever found the second (full) year online. It must have been common on early-19th-century bookshelves, because it was one of Alida’s main donors.
I was morally obliged to pick up this book after five different post-processors—including a couple of highly skilled and experienced people—threw it back. It was kind of fun.
Another of my all-time favorites. 19th-century humorous travel book—what more could anyone want? I first discovered the book in one of its modern Norwegian translations. As I recall, this version explained that it wasn’t an absolutely literal translation; they left out some bits that were obvious—or obviously wrong!
. . . “during the years 1825 and 1826”. This book was another major Alida donor, contributing several consecutive chapters. Written by Bernhard, Duke of Saxe-Weimar Eisenach, but don’t let the title fool you; the author was simply a younger son with time on his hands. But he was a pretty good writer and observer. Best line:
Colonel Thayer is a man who labours under a disease with which they say I am also afflicted, namely, the bibliomania; on that account I continued a long time in [West Point’s] library.
I learned how to make puff pastry from this book. It’s a lot faster and easier when you have a refrigerator and freezer. But you still have to try not to think about the fact that you’ve just eaten a whole stick of butter.
Famous, or infamous, in Distributed Proofreading circles because the author used “today”, “to-day” and “to day” in exactly equal proportion . . . and this is a critical edition, so you have to keep them all exactly as printed. This is not easy when you have “to-/day” at a line break.
Not the single shortest text ever posted to Project Gutenberg, but definitely up there. Or down there, as the case may be. The Project Manager revealed, under light grilling, that he had particularly wanted me to take on this book because he trusted my ability to get it posted in spite of its extreme brevity. Feel free to change names and details to taste.
See An American Baron under Fiction. In addition to the crucial publisher’s device, the volume also turned out to contain twelve luscious pages of advertising.
Another book that I was persuaded to take on after its original post-processor got a day job. It was fun, though. And, of course, it provided the raw material for Know Your
The German translation was done first.
Yet another of those books that had my name on it in invisible ink. But I didn’t bow to the inevitable until it had chewed up and spat out seven other post-processors—some of them twice. The irony is, it wasn’t really that difficult a book. Just very, very long . . . and very, very table-laden.