Friday, June 19, 2009

Online History Books

This morning my attention was redirected to a very interesting site.
Granted its content may make it difficult for the non-French speaker but it is worth a look if you have family in the provinces of West Flanders and of Hainaut.
The borders between Belgium and France were often crossed back and forth and you may find the information of great value: NordNum.

This site holds the work of a regional cooperative effort of digitization.
1. the Bibliotheque Centrale brings collections of rare local histories while
2. the Bibliotheque of the Centre de Recherche en Histoire de l'Europe du Nord-Ouest (CRHENO) specializes in regional history and collects all works published on the Nord/Pas-de-Calais, Picardy, Belgium and the Netherlands. This includes rare technical books on the mining industry, the textile industry, gas, electricity and transportation.
There is a dual purpose in creating this site. The local educators had requested access to these texts but since many of them are brittle, it was therefore unwise to handle them manually. The digitization process will enable access to them by a greater number of people.
This project is connected with the Libris project, database of local historical images
Their aim is to make 100 titles a year available online while maintaining high standards.
Since 2003, when they began this work, they have been able to digitize over 250 publications. At present they offer 370 searchable books.

Now, you ask, HOW do we see what's on there???
On the left side of the page, you have the choice between browsing through the catalog or doing a search.
Click on "Recherche" to do a search or even an "Advanced search" (Boolean) by clicking on "avancee". I never recommend a narrow search unless you know exactly what you are looking for. I always cast a wide net with a computer search then narrow down the search a little at a time. The buttons "Titres" (titles), "Auteurs" (authors) and "Sujets" (subjects) will enable you to narrow down your search.
Click "Rechercher" to start the search or "Reinitialiser" to clear it.

Click on "Catalogue" to browse and whether you browse or search, when you get a title you want to look at closer, just click on the results and either read the book online or download it (telecharger) completely at no charge.

Click in the left margin to go to a specific chapter or page or simply turn the page by clicking on the arrow at the top of the page.

The christening records of Ypres are shown here

If you want to explore a little more click under "Partenaires".
I was particularly taken with the IRHiS site which offers the download of their newsletters, "Cahiers de l'IRHiS"
Click in the middle of the page to enter the site, then scroll down and find the icon to continue. and you will will all the issues (2006-current) they have published, downloadable into pdf files.
I have downloaded several issues and intend to read them as soon as I get off here.
Till next week!