A couple of years ago, my Dad unexpectedly inherited the (modest) estate of an old friend. When my family packed up the contents of his cabin, we boxed up and stored his rather large book collection. At the time, we were too busy dealing with estate matters to look carefully at the books. Now, however, we’re gradually going through the boxes.
It’s a treasure-trove of Canadian WWI military history: regimental references, personal diaries and memoirs printed in small runs, reference books with hundreds of photographs glued in by the publisher. We’ve only just begun unpacking and sorting, but already there are several wonderful candidates for Project Gutenberg. I’ll be scanning for *years*.
I am *so pleased*.
For me, this kind of material – historical books, especially personal memoirs that had small print-runs – is the greatest justification (among many great justifications) for PG. These are the books that get lost forever, that end their lives in thrift stores and garage sales and, finally, dumpsters. Books disapppear forever – it happens all the time – and it’s a tragedy.
Last night, holding a small book (number 586 out of a print run of 1,000), a memoir written by a soldier who was in the trenches in France, I felt a great sense of pride that I would be able to save this little book: this man’s work and story will live on.
Lest we forget.