AncestorNews: Historical Texts on the Web

By Nancy Hendrickson Premium

The last time I was stuck waiting in the doctor’s office, I pulled out my Visor handheld device and spent the next 30 minutes reading the firsthand account of a Revolutionary War soldier. He wrote about his expectations, his disappointments, his fears and his utter joy over finding a chicken, which would become his first meal in days.

The Web has thousands of free historic texts you can download for free onto your desktop computer. For example, you can read Francis Parkman’s well-known account of traveling the Oregon Trail or an apprenticed laborer’s life in 1830s Jamaica.

A favorite Web site for historic texts is called Making of America at This site contains 8,500 books and 50,000 journal articles, scanned from 19th Century sources. A search of “herbs” in journals published between 1800 and 1850 found 99 articles, ranging from “History of the Colony and Ancient Dominion of Virginia” to “The Life and Times of John Livingston.”

To locate other historic texts, use these sites:

Free downloads to handheld devices.

• California As I Saw It, First Person Narratives, 1849-1900

• African American Women Writers of the 19th Century;hf=0

• The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School
Resolutions, treaties and official acts.