I've known about Google Books for quite sometime, but I have never searched it as thoroughly as I should have.
For those of you unfamiliar with it, Google has collected thousands of books and made the scanned images available for you on the internet. I’m not just talking about a book cover and an index here, I’m talking about full scans of every page. Most importantly, at least in my eyes, these books are fully searchable. Oftentimes, I remember a quote, but can’t recall which book I found it in. When I type part of the quote into the search engine, Google tells me where it came from.
A few caveats are in order. Google Books is most helpful with books that are now out of print. Books that are in print will often be available on a very limited basis. Perhaps only the table of contents or the index is available for those books.
Nonetheless, as a historian, I am often most interested in those books that have long been out of print and are especially difficult to track down via inter-library loan.
A few days ago, I went to Google Books and typed in “Abraham Lincoln.” In less than a second I received 11,000 hits. No real surprise there, but of course, the challenge is to sort through those hits and identify the real gems.
Only about one-fourth of those titles were available in their entirety; however, it takes quite a while to examine all 3,068 Lincoln-related books.
I spent a bit of time with it yesterday and wanted to call your attention to a dozen titles that have a great deal of value. Remember these texts are fully available and searchable via Google Books:
Isaac Newton Arnold, The History of Abraham Lincoln and the Overthrow of Slavery
George Bancroft, Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Abraham Lincoln
William E. Barton, Abraham Lincoln and his Books
Francis Fisher Browne, The Every-day Life of Abraham Lincoln
Lord Charnwood, Abraham Lincoln
William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, Abraham Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life
Ward Hill Lamon, Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, 1847 – 1865
Alexander Kelly McClure, “Abe” Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories
Henry Rankin, Personal Recollections of Abraham Lincoln
Ida M. Tarbell, The Early Life of Abraham Lincoln
Allan Thorndike Rice, Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by Distinguished Men of his Time
Henry Clay Whitney, Life on the Circuit with Lincoln