For this installment we’ll cover two free websites with substantial collections of historic books, journals, magazines, government documents and other publications: Google Books and HathiTrust. Both sites were launched over 10 years ago and have become essential tools for history research. Google and HathiTrust partnered with academic libraries to scan and provide digital access to millions of titles.
Books in the public domain or those published before 1923 are likely to be included in one of these websites. For more information on public domain and copyright, see this helpful guide by Stanford University.
Both sites also allow partial or snippet views of more recent publications. This can be very helpful for research, as it is a way to discover specific references in books or journals (those needle-in-a-haystack discoveries). You can then search the library catalog to find a physical copy of the book.
Don’t let their scholarly origins deter you–both Google Books and HathiTrust are easy to use, whether searching for specific titles as you would in a library catalog, or using the keyword search.
Here’s a short video on searching Google Books:
Here’s a quick introduction to searching the books and journals in HathiTrust: