Biomedical Ephemera, or, a Frog for your Boils is "A blog for all biological and medical ephemera, from the age of Abraham through the era of medical quackery and cure-all nostrums. Sometimes featuring illustrations of diseases and conditions of the times, sometimes fascinating ephemeral medical equipment, and sometimes clippings and information about the theories themselves." The archive page is also a useful starting point. via Things Magazine.
"Seventy two specimens of castes in India". This illustrated manuscript made in southern India in 1837 consists of 72 full-colour hand-painted images of men and women of the various castes and religious and ethnic groups found in Madura, India at that time. Search or browse (recommended) all the images, in very good resolution, from Yale's Beinecke Library. [more inside]
The blog associated with Ptak's online science bookstore is an absolutely fascinating, frequently-updated tour through historical, social, and scientific miscellany extracted from unusual books in the collection of the author, John Ptak. [more inside]
The Book Cover Archive presents "an archive of book cover designs and designers for the purpose of appreciation and categorization". via
Good Girl Art is defined as "A cover illustration depicting an attractive young woman, usually in skimpy or form-fitting clothing, and designed for (mild erotic interest)[sic]. There have been several prior posts on pulp fiction cover art (1, 2, 3); this site focuses on the "good girls" usefully organized into categories such as "Swamp Babes", Ringside Jezebels, Crazy!, Vietnam Vixens, and Peeping Toms. via
OPAL Libri Antichi from the University of Turin offers over 3,000 books as free, open PDF files. Most of these date between AD 1500 and 1850 and most are in Italian, with many in French. They tend to be plain books with few illustrations. A few English titles are present, including David Hume's 1800 Essays on Suicide and the Immortality of the Soul; several texts by William Wycherley such as Love in a wood: or St. James's-Park (1735); and Richard Lassels 1686 work The voyage of Italy: or, a compleat journey through Italy with the characters of the peaple, and the description of the chief towns ... (volume 2) - an early travel guide. The PDFs are unsearchable plain scans. via this thread in the W4RF forum which contains hundreds of links to free online historical documents
Cornell University and the University of Michigan collaboratively present two sites on the "Making of America" (Cornell Site; Michigan Site), together including over one million pages of 19th Century American books and periodicals online. At this Cornell page you can browse or search some well-known, full-text periodicals including: The Atlantic Monthly 1857-1901; Harper's 1850-1899; Scientific American 1846-1869; Putnam's 1853-1870; and The Manufacturer and Builder 1869-1894. From Michigan, you can browse less well-known journals, including American Jewess 1895-1899; Ladies Repository 1846-1871; and the Journal of the United States Association of Charcoal Iron Workers 1880-1891. warning: frames abound [more inside]
Agence Eureka is a French language image-blog with hundreds or even thousands of scanned illustrations, mostly from mid-20th century French schoolbooks, educational material, magazines, and ephemera. The current front page is slightly NSFW. Some of the categories include anatomy 1 & 2 (mildly NSFW); chocolate wrappers/trading cards; bricolage; decoupage (cut-outs); math education; playing cards; books and magazines; cars; cinema; orientalisme; sport; mild pin-ups; and many others (scroll all the way down the right to see the tags). [more inside]
Born in Bohemia, Wenceslas (Vaclav) Hollar (wikipedia; illustrated chronology of his life; essay on Hollar) was one of the leading etchers and illustrators of the middle 17th Century, working primarily in England and Belgium. The University of Toronto has placed almost his entire works online, including more than 4,000 images and some complete illustrated books. Some favorites: the man himself; simple, powerful Illustrations of Genesis; The Pack of Knaves; Elephants and Flowers; Shells; Fitting out a Hull; and Muffs (sfw). Most images are zoomable, and you can create marked lists and compare images side by side.
From the U.S. National Academies Press: 3,000 Science, Technology, Medical, and Social Science Books Available Free, Online. The interface is clunky - you can only see one page at a time, can't download PDFs (except paid) and image view is via TIFF - but! the content is all there, and free. Some is quite technical, but much is readily accessible. Some idea of the breadth: A Doctor's Memoirs of Treating AIDS in Haiti, The "Drama of the Commons", The 1872 Research Voyage of HMS Challenger, Biography of Stephen Hawking, Biotechnology Research in the Age of Terrorism, Risk Reduction Strategies for Human Exploration of Space, Forensic Lead Bullet Analysis, 50 Short Essays on How Mathematicians Think, Recent Research on Non-Lethal Weapons, and Introduction to Tough Topics in Contemporary Science. Also, see their rather spiffy site on the cosmos.