A New Online Archive Lets You Read the Whole Earth Catalog and Other Whole Earth Publications, Taking You from 1970 to 2002

Today, if you want to get start­ed in home brew­ing, shop for a syn­the­siz­er, find out what cyber­net­ics is, order non-genet­i­cal­ly-mod­i­fied seeds, start your own mush­room farm, learn how to repair a Volk­swa­gen, sub­scribe to lib­er­tar­i­an pub­li­ca­tions, pur­chase the work of Mar­shall McLuhan, sign up for an out­door excur­sion, read an essay on zen Bud­dhism, com­pare home-birth setups, gath­er home­school­ing mate­ri­als, build a geo­des­ic dome, you go to one place first: the inter­net. Half a cen­tu­ry ago, when the per­son­al com­put­er had only just come into exis­tence, that would­n’t have been an option. But pro­vid­ed you were suf­fi­cient­ly tapped into the coun­ter­cul­ture, you could open up the nine­teen-sev­en­ties equiv­a­lent of the inter­net: The Whole Earth Cat­a­log.

Launched by Stew­art Brand in 1968, the Whole Earth Cat­a­log curat­ed and pre­sent­ed the prod­ucts and ser­vices of a wide vari­ety of busi­ness­es all between the cov­ers of one increas­ing­ly weighty print­ed vol­ume offer­ing what its slo­gan called “access to tools.”

While cer­tain of its sec­tions reflect­ed the most lit­er­al mean­ing of the term “tools” — you could’ve kept a pret­ty robust farm going with all the imple­ments on offer, and no doubt more than a few read­ers tried to do so — the larg­er enter­prise seemed to run on the goal of expand­ing the def­i­n­i­tion of what a tool could be, as well as the range of pos­si­bil­i­ties it could open to its user. Even sub­scribers who nev­er bought a prod­uct could receive an edu­ca­tion from the cat­a­log’s often eccen­tric but always infor­ma­tive descrip­tions of those prod­ucts.

“Behind the infor­ma­tion, the advice, the hints, and the facts, this book is about com­ing to see things as they are, through your own eyes, instead of the hired eyes of some expert or oth­er. It’s about train­ing your­self to trust your­self, and trust­ing your­self to train your­self, until you‘re able to claim your right as a human to be com­pe­tent with your hands.” These words come from writer and doc­u­men­tar­i­an Gur­ney Nor­man’s cap­sule review, in the spring 1970 Whole Earth Cat­a­log, of Joan Ran­son Short­ney’s book, How to Live on Noth­ing (described there­in as “our best-sell­ing book”). But Nor­man could just as well have been describ­ing the Whole Earth Cat­a­log itself, which was all about the abil­i­ty of indi­vid­u­als and small groups, equipped with not just tech­nol­o­gy new and old but also deep reserves of opti­mism and humor, to deter­mine their own des­tiny.

“The Whole Earth Cat­a­log offered a vision for a new social order,” writes the New York­er’s Anna Wiener, “one that eschewed insti­tu­tions in favor of indi­vid­ual empow­er­ment, achieved through the acqui­si­tion of skills and tools. The lat­ter cat­e­go­ry includ­ed agri­cul­tur­al equip­ment, weav­ing kits, mechan­i­cal devices, books like Kib­butz: Ven­ture in Utopia, and dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and relat­ed the­o­ret­i­cal texts, such as Nor­bert Wiener’s Cyber­net­ics and the Hewlett-Packard 9100A, a pro­gram­ma­ble cal­cu­la­tor.” Oth­er sec­tions might offer Grav­i­ty’s Rain­bow; an Apple II home com­put­er; some­thing called “self-ther­a­peu­tic rub­ber”; and even a hot tub. “Many a new­com­er to Cal­i­for­nia remem­bers for­ev­er the trau­ma of first being invit­ed — at a per­fect­ly ordi­nary par­ty — to strip and enter a steam­ing tub full of strangers,” writes Brand in the Next Whole Earth Cat­a­log of fall 1980, which may sound a bit late in the game for that sort of thing.

But then, the spir­it of the Whole Earth Cat­a­log, first ani­mat­ed by the free-enter­prise-and-free-love nine­teen-six­ties and sev­en­ties, has long out­last­ed its orig­i­nal cul­tur­al moment — and indeed the cat­a­log itself, which ceased pub­li­ca­tion in 1998. But now, thanks to Gray Area and the Inter­net Archive, you can read and down­load many issues of not just the Whole Earth Cat­a­log but also its suc­ces­sor pub­li­ca­tions, from CoEvo­lu­tion Quar­ter­ly to Whole Earth Mag­a­zine, in a new online col­lec­tion span­ning the years 1970 to 2002. To browse it is to enter a coun­ter­cul­tur­al time machine, expe­ri­enc­ing both the pre­pos­ter­ous­ness and the pre­science of the coun­ter­cul­ture as if for the first time. But then, for the vast major­i­ty of its vis­i­tors here in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry — who know that coun­ter­cul­ture only indi­rect­ly, through its wide but dif­fuse influ­ence on every­thing up to and includ­ing the inter­net — it will be the first time. Enter the col­lec­tion here.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Watch Stew­art Brand’s 6‑Part Series How Build­ings Learn, With Music by Bri­an Eno

Earth­rise, Apol­lo 8’s Pho­to of Earth from Space, Turns 50: Down­load the Icon­ic Pho­to­graph from NASA

Bri­an Eno Cre­ates a List of 20 Books That Could Rebuild Civ­i­liza­tion

Down­load the Com­plete Archive of Oz, “the Most Con­tro­ver­sial Mag­a­zine of the 60s,” Fea­tur­ing R. Crumb, Ger­maine Greer & More

Buck­min­ster Fuller Tells the World “Every­thing He Knows” in a 42-Hour Lec­ture Series (1975)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

The Live Music Archive Lets You Stream/Download More Than 250,000 Concert Recordings–for Free

The Inter­net Archive main­tains an enor­mous Live Music Archive of con­cert record­ings, not all of them by the Grate­ful Dead. There are more than 17,000 such record­ings in its Grate­ful Dead col­lec­tion — 2,000 more than when last we fea­tured it here on Open Cul­ture — but one must com­pare that fig­ure to the 250,000 items now in the whole of the LMA. “It would be a great sto­ry to have the first item as part of the col­lec­tion to be some rare Grate­ful Dead record­ing from 1968,” says a post at the Inter­net Archive blog reflect­ing on the twen­ti­eth anniver­sary of the LMA last year, “but it is actu­al­ly an unas­sum­ing Rust­ed Root audi­ence record­ing from August 24, 2001.”

In addi­tion to Rust­ed Root and the Grate­ful Dead, you can stream or down­load a wealth of record­ed live shows from bands like Lit­tle Feat, Blues Trav­el­er, My Morn­ing Jack­et, Los Lobos, and the Smash­ing Pump­kins, as well as singer-song­writ­ers like War­ren Zevon, Elliott Smith, Jack John­son, Robyn Hitch­cock, and John May­er.

How wide or nar­row a vari­ety of musi­cal expe­ri­ences these names con­jure up will, of course, depend on your per­spec­tive. But if they do share a major char­ac­ter­is­tic in com­mon, it’s the fact, to their true fans, their live per­for­mances count for as much as — or, often, more than — their stu­dio record­ings. The truest (or at least most tech­ni­cal­ly adept) such fans have donat­ed their time and skills to make these live per­for­mances freely acces­si­ble and end­less­ly reliv­able on the LMA.

“For years, con­cert-goers record­ed and trad­ed tapes, but in 2002, the Inter­net Archive offered a reli­able infra­struc­ture to pre­serve per­for­mances files,” writes the Inter­net Archive’s Car­alee Adams in a blog post mark­ing the upload­ing of 250,000 record­ings. “Part­ner­ing with the etree music com­mu­ni­ty, the Live Music Archive was estab­lished to pro­vide ongo­ing, free access to loss­less and MP3-encod­ed audio record­ings.” Over the past 21 years, “more than 8,000 artists have giv­en per­mis­sion to have record­ings of their shows archived on the Live Music Archive, and users from around the world have lis­tened to files more than 600 mil­lion times.” Whether or not you’re into jam bands, if you’ve ever enjoyed live music, have a look through the LMA’s 250 ter­abytes of record­ings made in venues from sta­di­ums to neigh­bor­hood cof­fee shops. There’ll be a con­cert for you, no charge for admis­sion.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Jam­Base Launch­es a New Video Archive of 100,000 Stream­ing Con­certs: Phish, Wilco, the Avett Broth­ers, Grate­ful Dead & Much More

Stream 385,000 Vin­tage 78 RPM Records at the Inter­net Archive: Louis Arm­strong, Glenn Miller, Bil­lie Hol­i­day & More

Stream a Mas­sive Archive of Grate­ful Dead Con­certs from 1965–1995

Down­load 10,000 of the First Record­ings of Music Ever Made, Cour­tesy of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia-San­ta Bar­bara

BBC Launch­es World Music Archive

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Download Instructions for More Than 6,800 LEGO Kits at the Internet Archive

We’ve all come across a LEGO set from child­hood and felt the temp­ta­tion to try build­ing it one more time — mak­ing the gen­er­ous assump­tion, of course, that all the pieces are in the box, to say noth­ing of the instruc­tions. If you’re miss­ing a few bricks, you can always turn to the robust sec­ondary mar­ket in LEGO com­po­nents. If you’re miss­ing the man­u­al, there’s now one place you should look first: the LEGO build­ing instruc­tions col­lec­tion at the Inter­net Archive. There you’ll find dig­i­tized mate­ri­als for more than 6,800 dif­fer­ent sets, includ­ing such pop­u­lar releas­es as the LEGO Chevro­let Camaro Z28, the LEGO Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion, and the LEGO cov­er pho­to of Meet the Bea­t­les.

Since they were first brought to mar­ket in the late nine­teen-fifties, LEGO’s sig­na­ture build­ing bricks have been pri­mar­i­ly con­sid­ered chil­dren’s toys. And of course, most of us got to know LEGO in child­hood; I myself have fond mem­o­ries of work­ing my way up to the Ice Plan­et 2002 series, with its still much-ref­er­enced trans­par­ent orange chain­saws.

But even after com­ing of age, the seri­ous enthu­si­ast need not leave LEGO behind: the com­pa­ny has put out such adult-ori­ent­ed mod­els as the Colos­se­um, Andy Warhol’s Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe, the Eif­fel Tow­er, and the Solomon R. Guggen­heim Muse­um, to name just a few whose instruc­tions are down­load­able from the Inter­net Archive.

The Metafil­ter dis­cus­sion of the Inter­net Archive’s LEGO build­ing instruc­tions col­lec­tion reveals not only that some are excit­ed indeed about the exis­tence of this resource, but also that oth­ers con­sid­er build­ing from instruc­tions to be a mis­use of the medi­um. It may be true that fol­low­ing spe­cif­ic doc­u­ment­ed steps for hours on end may encour­age a cer­tain slack­en­ing of the imag­i­na­tion. But then, it may also be true that phys­i­cal­ly work­ing one’s way through a com­plex assem­bly process can build dex­ter­i­ty and gen­er­ate ideas for lat­er freeform con­struc­tions. How­ev­er we approach LEGO, and what­ev­er age at which we approach it, we need only keep in mind the Dan­ish imper­a­tive that gave the com­pa­ny its name: leg godt — play well. Enter the col­lec­tion of instruc­tions here.

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed con­tent:

Hokusai’s Icon­ic Print The Great Wave off Kana­gawa Recre­at­ed with 50,000 LEGO Bricks

The LEGO Tur­ing Machine Gives a Quick Primer on How Your Com­put­er Works

The Vin­cent van Gogh Star­ry Night LEGO Set Is Now Avail­able: It’s Cre­at­ed in Col­lab­o­ra­tion with MoMA

With 9,036 Pieces, the Roman Colos­se­um Is the Largest LEGO Set Ever

Ai Wei­wei Recre­ates Monet’s Water Lilies Trip­tych Using 650,000 Lego Bricks

Why Did LEGO Become a Media Empire? Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast #37

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Stream 385,000 Vintage 78 RPM Records at the Internet Archive: Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller, Billie Holiday & More

We may have yet to devel­op the tech­nol­o­gy of time trav­el, but record­ed music comes pret­ty close. Those who lis­ten to it have expe­ri­enced how a song or an album can, in some sense, trans­port them right back to the time they first heard it. But old­er records also have the much stranger pow­er to con­jure up eras we nev­er expe­ri­enced. You can musi­cal­ly send your­self as far back as the nine­teen-twen­ties with the above Youtube playlist of dig­i­tized 78 RPM records from the George Blood col­lec­tion.

George Blood is the head of the audio-visu­al dig­i­ti­za­tion com­pa­ny George Blood Audio, which has been par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Inter­net Archive’s Great 78 Project. “The brain­child of the Archive’s founder, Brew­ster Kahle, the project is ded­i­cat­ed to the preser­va­tion and dis­cov­ery of 78rpm records,” writes The Vinyl Fac­to­ry’s Will Pritchard.

The piece quotes Blood him­self as say­ing that his com­pa­ny has been dig­i­tiz­ing five to six thou­sand records per month with the ambi­tious goal of cre­at­ing a “ref­er­ence col­lec­tion of sound record­ings from the peri­od of approx­i­mate­ly 1880 to 1960.” He said that five years ago. Today, the Inter­net Archive’s George Blood col­lec­tion con­tains more than 385,000 records free to stream and down­load.

The 78 hav­ing been the most pop­u­lar record­ed-music for­mat in the first few decades of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry, George Blood L.P. and the Great 78 Pro­ject as a whole have had plen­ty of mate­r­i­al to work with. In the large archive built up so far you’ll find plen­ty of obscu­ri­ties — the Youtube playlist at the top of the post can get you acquaint­ed with the likes of Eric Whit­ley and the Green Sis­ters, Tin Ear Tan­ner and His Back Room Boys, and Dou­glas Ven­able and His Bar X Ranch Hands — but also the work of musi­cians who remain beloved today. For the 78 was the medi­um through which many lis­ten­ers enjoyed the big-band hit of Glenn Miller, or dis­cov­ered jazz as per­formed by leg­ends like Louis Arm­strong and Bil­lie Hol­i­day. To know their music most inti­mate­ly, one would per­haps have need­ed to hear them in the actu­al nine­teen-thir­ties, but this is sure­ly the next best thing.

Relat­ed con­tent:

How the Inter­net Archive Has Dig­i­tized More than 250,000 78 R.P.M. Records: See the Painstak­ing Process Up-Close

Mas­sive Archive of 78RPM Records Now Dig­i­tized & Put Online: Stream 78,000 Ear­ly 20th Cen­tu­ry Records from Around the World

200,000+ Vin­tage Records Being Dig­i­tized & Put Online by the Boston Pub­lic Library

Rare Ara­bic 78 RPM Records Enter the Pub­lic Domain

Down­load 10,000 of the First Record­ings of Music Ever Made, Cour­tesy of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia-San­ta Bar­bara

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

A Gallery of Fantastical Alchemical Drawings

I once had to tell a ten-year-old that the Har­ry Pot­ter book series was not a his­tor­i­cal lit­er­ary clas­sic but a recent pub­lish­ing phe­nom­e­non that occurred in my life­time. She was amazed, but she was­n’t sil­ly for think­ing that the books might date from a far­away past. They do, after all, make fre­quent ref­er­ence to fig­ures from cen­turies when alche­my flour­ished in Europe, and magi­cians like Paracel­sus and Nicholas Flamel (both of whom appear in Pot­ter books and spin-offs) plied their soli­tary craft, such as it was. Should we call it mag­ic, ear­ly sci­ence, occult reli­gion, out­sider art, or some admix­ture of the above?

We can call it “black mag­ic,” but the term was not, as the Chris­tians thought, a ref­er­ence to the dev­il, but to the soil of the Nile. “Derived from the Ara­bic root ‘kimia,’” writes the Pub­lic Domain Review, “from the Cop­tic ‘khem’ (refer­ring to the fer­tile black soil of the Nile delta), the word ‘alche­my’ alludes to the dark mys­tery of the pri­mor­dial or First Mat­ter (the Khem).”

Find­ing this first sub­stance con­sti­tutes “the alchemist’s cen­tral goal – along with the dis­cov­ery of the Stone of Knowl­edge (The Philosopher’s Stone) and the key to Eter­nal Youth.”

In the descrip­tion above, we can see the roots of Rowling’s fic­tions and the ori­gins of many a world-shap­ing mod­ern myth. Alchemists study and change mat­ter to pro­duce cer­tain effects – just as ear­ly sci­en­tists did – and it may sur­prise us to learn just how fer­vent­ly some well-known ear­ly sci­en­tists, most espe­cial­ly Isaac New­ton, pur­sued the alchem­i­cal course. But the essence of alche­my was imag­i­na­tion, and the artists who depict­ed alchem­i­cal rit­u­als, mag­i­cal crea­tures, mys­ti­cal sym­bols, etc. had no short­age of it, as we see in the images here, drawn from Well­come Images and the Man­ley Palmer Hall col­lec­tion at the Inter­net Archive.

The images are strange, sur­re­al, cryp­tic, and seem to ref­er­ence no known real­i­ty. They are the inspi­ra­tion for cen­turies of occult art and eso­teric lit­er­a­ture. But each one also had prac­ti­cal intent — to illus­trate mys­te­ri­ous, often secre­tive process­es for dis­cov­er­ing the foun­da­tions of the uni­verse, and prof­it­ing from them. If these tech­niques look noth­ing like our mod­ern meth­ods for doing the same, that’s for good rea­son, but it does­n’t mean that alche­my has noth­ing to do with sci­ence. It is, rather, sci­ence’s weird dis­tant ances­tor. See more alchem­i­cal images at the Pub­lic Domain Review.

via Pub­lic Domain Review

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How the Bril­liant Col­ors of Medieval Illu­mi­nat­ed Man­u­scripts Were Made with Alche­my

Videos Recre­ate Isaac Newton’s Neat Alche­my Exper­i­ments: Watch Sil­ver Get Turned Into Gold

Isaac Newton’s Recipe for the Myth­i­cal ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ Is Being Dig­i­tized & Put Online (Along with His Oth­er Alche­my Man­u­scripts)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

400,000+ Sound Recordings Made Before 1923 Have Entered the Public Domain

A cen­tu­ry ago, the Unit­ed States was deep into the Jazz Age. No writer is more close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with that heady era than F. Scott Fitzger­ald, who (in addi­tion to coin­ing the verb to cock­tail) took it upon him­self to pop­u­lar­ize its name. In 1922 he even titled a short sto­ry col­lec­tion Tales from the Jazz Age, which entered the pub­lic domain not long ago. You may be more famil­iar with anoth­er work of Fitzger­ald’s that fol­lowed Tales from the Jazz Age into free­dom just last year: a nov­el called The Great Gats­by. But only this year have the actu­al sounds of the Jazz Age come into the pub­lic domain as well, thanks to the Music Mod­ern­iza­tion Act passed by U.S. Con­gress in 2018.

“Accord­ing to the act, all sound record­ings pri­or to 1923 will have their copy­rights expire in the US on Jan­u­ary 1, 2022,” says the Pub­lic Domain Review. This straight­ens out a tan­gled legal frame­work that pre­vi­ous­ly would­n’t have allowed the release of pre-1923 sound record­ings until the dis­tant year of 2067.

And so all of us now have free use of every sound record­ing from a more than 60-year peri­od  that “com­pris­es a rich and var­ied playlist: exper­i­men­tal first dab­blings, vaude­ville, Broad­way hits, rag­time, and the begin­nings of pop­u­lar jazz. Includ­ed will be the works of Scott Joplin, Thomas Edison’s exper­i­ments, the emo­tive war­blings of Adeli­na Pat­ti and the first record­ing of Swing Low, Sweet Char­i­ot.”

If you’d like to have a lis­ten to all this, the Pub­lic Domain Review rec­om­mends start­ing with its own audio col­lec­tion, a search for all pre-1923 record­ings on Inter­net Archive, and two projects from the Library of Con­gress: the Nation­al Juke­box and the Cit­i­zen DJ project, the lat­ter of which “has plans to do some­thing spe­cial with the pre-1923 record­ings once they enter the pub­lic domain.” You might also have a look at the Asso­ci­a­tion for Record­ed Sound Col­lec­tions’ list of ten notable pre-1923 record­ings, which high­lights such pro­to-jazz records as “Crazy Blues” and “Dix­ieland Jass Band One-Step” (along with the whol­ly non-jazz work of Enri­co Caru­so and Pablo Casals).

Accord­ing to Alex­is Rossi at the Inter­net Archive Blog, the sound record­ings just lib­er­at­ed by the Music Mod­ern­iza­tion act come to about 400,000 in total. Among them you’ll find “ear­ly jazz clas­sics like ‘Don’t Care Blues’ by Mamie Smith and her Jazz Hounds, ‘Ory’s Cre­ole Trom­bone’ by Kid Ory’s Sun­shine Orches­tra, and ‘Jazz­in’ Babies Blues’ by Ethel Waters.” Rossi also high­lights the nov­el­ty songs such as Bil­ly Mur­ray’s 1914 ren­di­tion of “Fido is a Hot Dog Now,” “which seems to be about a dog who is def­i­nite­ly going to hell.” The Jazz Age soon to come would exhib­it a more rau­cous but also more refined sen­si­bil­i­ty: as Fitzger­ald wrote in 1931, with the era he defined (and that defined him) already past, “It was an age of mir­a­cles, it was an age of art, it was an age of excess, and it was an age of satire.”

via Mefi

Relat­ed con­tent:

Free: The Great Gats­by & Oth­er Major Works by F. Scott Fitzger­ald

What’s Enter­ing the Pub­lic Domain in 2022: The Sun Also Ris­es, Win­nie-the-Pooh, Buster Keaton Come­dies & More

Hear the First Jazz Record, Which Launched the Jazz Age: “Liv­ery Sta­ble Blues” (1917)

The Clean­est Record­ings of 1920s Louis Arm­strong Songs You’ll Ever Hear

Great New Archive Lets You Hear the Sounds of New York City Dur­ing the Roar­ing 20s

How the Inter­net Archive Has Dig­i­tized More than 250,000 78 R.P.M. Records: See the Painstak­ing Process Up-Close

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Read 900+ Thanksgiving Books Free at the Internet Archive

On Thanks­giv­ing Day, Amer­i­cans make the (some­times ardu­ous) effort to gath­er for an enor­mous tra­di­tion­al meal and for many, a now equal­ly tra­di­tion­al view­ing of tele­vised foot­ball. But even when stretched to their max­i­mum length, these activ­i­ties occu­py only so many hours. What to do with the rest of the day? You might con­sid­er head­ing over to the Inter­net Archive and fill­ing it with some hol­i­day-appro­pri­ate read­ing. Last year that site’s librar­i­an Brew­ster Kahle tweet­ed a sug­ges­tion to “check out 700 Thanks­giv­ing books! (from delight­ful to dat­ed to a lit­tle weird)” in their online col­lec­tion, a col­lec­tion that has since risen to more than 900 dig­i­tized vol­umes.

There, espe­cial­ly if you sort by pop­u­lar­i­ty, you’ll find a wealth of Thanks­giv­ing-themed chil­dren’s books, from Wen­di Sil­vano’s Turkey Trou­ble and Mark Fear­ing’s The Great Thanks­giv­ing Escape to Charles Schulz’s A Char­lie Brown Thanks­giv­ing and Nor­man Brid­well’s Clif­ford’s Thanks­giv­ing Vis­it (whose tit­u­lar big red dog fea­tures at this very moment in his own major motion pic­ture).

But there are also selec­tions for grown-up read­ers. Take, for exam­ple, Lau­rie Col­lier Hill­strom’s The Thanks­giv­ing Book: a Com­pan­ion to the Hol­i­day Cov­er­ing its His­to­ry, Lore, Tra­di­tions, Foods, and Sym­bols, Includ­ing Pri­ma­ry Sources, Poems, Prayers, Songs, Hymns, and Recipes: Sup­ple­ment­ed by a Chronol­o­gy, Bib­li­og­ra­phy with Web Sites, and Index — the length of whose title belies its pub­li­ca­tion in not the 19th cen­tu­ry, but 2008.

Or per­haps you’d pre­fer to accom­pa­ny the diges­tion of your Thanks­giv­ing feast with a hol­i­day-appro­pri­ate work of fic­tion. In that case your choic­es include Thanks­giv­ing Night by lit­er­ary exam­in­er of mod­ern fam­i­ly life Richard Bausch; Thank­less in Death by mur­der­ous-thriller pow­er­house J.D. Robb (alter-ego of pro­lif­ic romance nov­el­ist Nora Roberts); and even Tru­man Capote’s “The Thanks­giv­ing Vis­i­tor,” col­lect­ed in one vol­ume along with his sto­ries “A Christ­mas Mem­o­ry” and “One Christ­mas.” That last book will give you a head start on the rest of the hol­i­day sea­son to come, wher­ev­er in the world you may live. And if that hap­pens to be Cana­da, you can give your kids a head start on next year’s Cana­di­an Thanks­giv­ing while you’re at it. Enter the col­lec­tion here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Illus­trat­ed Ver­sion of “Alice’s Restau­rant”: Watch Arlo Guthrie’s Thanks­giv­ing Coun­ter­cul­ture Clas­sic

William S. Bur­roughs Reads His “Thanks­giv­ing Prayer” in a 1988 Film By Gus Van Sant

Bob Dylan’s Thanks­giv­ing Radio Show: A Playlist of 18 Delec­table Songs

Mar­i­lyn Monroe’s Hand­writ­ten Turkey-and-Stuff­ing Recipe

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 13 Tips for What to Do with Your Left­over Thanks­giv­ing Turkey

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

A 110-Year-Old Book Illustrated with Photos of Kittens & Cats Taught Kids How to Read


Unlike our 21st-cen­tu­ry cat memes and oth­er such online feline-based enter­tain­ments, children’s author Eulalie Osgood Grover’s 1911 work, Kit­tens and Cats: A First Read­er was intend­ed to edu­cate.

Its relat­ed poems will almost cer­tain­ly strike those of us whose under­stand­ing of feline atti­tude has been shaped by LOL­CatsGrumpy Cat, the exis­ten­tial Hen­ri, Talk­ing Kit­ty Cat’s acer­bic Sylvester, and the mor­dant 1970s TV spokescat Mor­ris as sweet to the point of sick­ly. But it boasts six hun­dred vocab­u­lary words, a rhyme struc­ture that pro­motes read­ing aloud, and a note to teach­ers with sug­ges­tions for class­room activ­i­ties.

Grover explained how her feline cast of char­ac­ters would win over even the most reluc­tant read­er, inspir­ing “much the same delight to the lit­tle read­er of juve­nile fic­tion, as do adven­ture and romance to the grown-up read­er”:

In one respect kit­tens take prece­dence over dolls. They are alive. They must be treat­ed kind­ly. They will not bear the abuse and neglect giv­en to many beau­ti­ful dolls. They demand atten­tion and com­pan­ion­ship, and they return a real devo­tion in return for kind­ness and care. There­fore we love them and espe­cial­ly do our chil­dren love them and delight in sto­ries of them.

The loose­ly struc­tured sto­ry con­cerns a grand par­ty thrown by the Queen of the Cats. Fol­low­ing some breath­less prepa­ra­tions, the guests take turns intro­duc­ing them­selves to her majesty, though unlike T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Prac­ti­cal Cats (1939), there’s not much that could be cob­bled into a hit musi­cal.

Grover flesh­es out the nar­ra­tive with call­backs to a num­ber of cat-rich nurs­ery rhymes — Hick­o­ry Dick­o­ry DockThree Lit­tle Kit­tensHey Did­dle Did­dleAs I Was Going to St. IvesDing Dong Bell

One lace-bon­net­ed char­ac­ter is rem­i­nis­cent of Tom Kit­ten’s moth­er, Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit, and her unsuc­cess­ful attempts to wran­gle her ram­bunc­tious off­spring into cloth­ing fit for “fine com­pa­ny,” though the wit falls some­what short of Beat­rix Potter’s.

Head­gear abounds, as do restric­tive buntings that must’ve been a great help when deal­ing with unco­op­er­a­tive mod­els and long expo­sures.

Although the pho­tog­ra­ph­er is uncred­it­ed, the images are like­ly the work of Har­ry Whit­ti­er Frees, a “pio­neer of the anthro­po­mor­phic kit­ten pho­to­graph genre” as per the New York Dai­ly News. In his intro­duc­tion to his far more ambi­tious­ly posed 1915 work, The Lit­tle Folks of Ani­mal Land, Frees allud­ed to his process:

The dif­fi­cul­ties of pos­ing kit­tens and pup­pies for pic­tures of this kind have been over­come only by the exer­cise of great patience and invari­able kind­ness. My lit­tle mod­els receive no espe­cial train­ing, and after their dai­ly per­for­mance before the cam­era they enjoy noth­ing more than a good frol­ic about the stu­dio.

That’s a pleas­ant thought, though his­to­ri­an and post­card col­lec­tor Mary L. Wei­gley tells a some­what dif­fer­ent tale in an arti­cle for Penn­syl­va­nia Her­itage, describ­ing how only 3/10 of his neg­a­tives could be pub­lished, and his work was so “chal­leng­ing, time-con­sum­ing and nerve-wrack­ing” that he took 9 months out of every year to recu­per­ate.


Down­load a free copy of Eulalie Osgood Grover’s Kit­tens and Cats here.

via Pub­lic Domain Review

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An Ani­mat­ed His­to­ry of Cats: How Over 10,000 Years the Cat Went from Wild Preda­tor to Sofa Side­kick

Why Humans Are Obsessed with Cats

GPS Track­ing Reveals the Secret Lives of Out­door Cats

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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