18th Century Internet

The famous portrait of Samuel Adams on his iPhone.

The famous portrait of Samuel Adams on his iPhone.

When it comes to online, we’re constantly looking forward.

What’s the next big thing?

But one of the amazing qualities of the Internet is its ability to bring us back.

Way back.

You can explore the historic treasures of the Louvre with a click.  Using services like Ancestry.com you can discover a trove of obscure historic documents such as city street listings from the 1850s, U.S. Census figures and birth and death certificates.  Other services like FindAGrave.com allow you to wander through ancient burial grounds.

Other projects like Project Gutenberg and Google Books are making rare and forgotten books available.  You can find histories written in the 18th century and even the minutes and registries of defunct 19th century clubs and organizations.

There are also thousands of blogs and websites dedicated to history.  These sites provide expert insights, access to old tomes and documents that you might not even knew existed.

I’ve been compiling my family history and not only am I able to quickly find and copy documents that once took days or even weeks to uncover, but I can use Google Street view to virtually visit the sites where my ancestor’s lived and worked.  I can even make maps based on the information.  And, of course, share this information with my family and friends.

When I’m done I’m planning to write-up the history and make it available to my close and extended family as an e-book.

It’s exciting to look forward when your online. But sometimes the best things on the Internet are what already happened.


The Louvre online



Project Gutenberg

Google Books

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