Saturday, July 14, 2012

Free Books: Public Domain and the Internet

          Due to curricula changes at PCCA, I have spent part of my summer compiling a primary-source document reader for my 9th and 10th grade Humanities classes. Together, the classes span from the Ancient World into the 17th Century, and I focus on literary, philosophical, historical and some theological developments in Western Culture. With the expansion of our rhetoric program, many of my composition duties have been reduced, giving me more time to strengthen the historical and cultural component of the classes. Using primary sources ensures that I let the ancients, medievals and reformers speak in their own words.

Since I am only using parts of many of these works, and since existing primary source readers are expensive (and deficient in one way or another), I decided to put together my own reader, using the plethora of books and documents available in the public domain. Not only does Google Books contain a great number of free books (all of which can be downloaded as .pdf files to your computer, but a number of other excellent websites make many other books available as well.

Fordham University's Internet History Sourcebooks were critical for the construction of my document reader. Most of the titles available are historical, rather than literary, but many different genres are mixed together.

The Internet Classics Archive provides a range of texts from the Ancient Greco-Roman world, including many of literary works.

The Online Medieval and Classical Library (OMACL) had some books in the public domain that I had a hard time finding anywhere else, including the medieval Spanish poem "The Lay of the Cid."

New Advent is a Roman Catholic website that hosts an excellent collection of Patristics (1st - 5th Cent. AD) and the Summa Theologica of Medieval theologican and philosopher, Thomas Aquinas.

The Lacus Curtius Page offers a number of Greco-Roman works, as well as some useful secondary sources.

Hanover College's Historical Texts Project is not as extensive as Fordham's, but was nevertheless useful.

The Perseus Collection not only has classical titles in English, but also in Greek and Latin.  Primary texts, as well as public domain secondary texts (Latin and Greek grammars, lexicons, etc) are here.

The Christian Classics Ethereal Library has Christian texts, both primary and secondary. An excellent resource!

Mongergism also makes available many classic theological texts of Christendom. They also have a very helpful directory with links to articles on all manner of biblical and theological topics.

The Puritan Library, hosted by Monergism, contains a large number of Puritan writings, the preeminent Protestant movement of the 17th Century.

The University of Virginia's American Studies site has a some titles by American authors. has a wide range of Great Books available. has resources on Church history in its earliest centuries.

(As with any links to external sites, I cannot vouch for the entirety of its contents, past, present or future (since I don't own and operate these sites), so please proceed with caution and only allow children to use the internet with responsible supervision.)

No comments: