Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2009 Issue

Wikis: Adding Links to Google Books

Rondout: alive in memory. Wikipedia image


By Bruce McKinney

This past month I used Google Books, the word-by-word search of eight million full text books, to look for buried references for the once vibrant and now mostly forgotten community of Rondout, New York, that one hundred and twenty-five years ago was merged into Kingston. Rondout today is a "once was" place that has legally disappeared. No banks or high schools for that matter declaim: "we're from Rondout and nobody is prouder." Kingston itself peaked years ago. It was once the capital of New York State and a few decades ago home to important IBM facilities. The capital was moved in 1797 to Albany and the IBM business went south in the 1990s - literally and figuratively. These days, along what was once the vibrant Rondout waterfront, there are three museums in various stages of hope and promise. One, the Hudson River Maritime Museum, is usually open, another, The Trolley Museum of New York, is open weekends during the summer and another is visible but not regularly open. This place was once the jumping off point for material coming off the D & H Canal carrying coal from Honesdale, Pennsylvania to Rondout where it was loaded onto large boats and barges and sent up and down the Hudson. Railroads eventually made this arduous trip unnecessary. The place has history. Buried portions of it show up in Google Books.

In looking for references to Rondout in Google Books it helps that Rondout is a very good search term. The term is unique and the results inevitably few. That's a good thing. Rondout, in the advanced search, with no other terms or parameter finds only 2,070 references. New York, for comparison, finds 1,320,000. Adding the date range 1601 to 1900 narrows Rondout results to 1,089. Narrowing the search to 1601 to 1800 there are 17.

One of those is Christoph Daniel Ebelings Erdbeschreibung und Geschichte von Amerika. This is a multi-volume set, printed between the early 1790s and the first two decades of the 19th century that I purchased from Bill Reese after learning it was relevant both to Rondout and to my general interest in the history of the Hudson Valley. Bill didn't try to sell me this book. Google Books demonstrated its relevance and I then searched AE's Books for Sale and other listing sites, found various loose volumes of the seven volume set and selected the Reese set as the best combination of price, condition and completeness.

In looking further into Google Books I also ran across an 1841 book with an interesting connection to Rondout. Its title does not betray the connection: "Sketch of a Railway Judiciously Constructed Between Desirable Points. Exemplified by a map and an appendix of facts." It was printed in New York in 1841 and offered by MacManus of Philadelphia in AE's Books for Sale. It includes cost information for shipping coal from Pennsylvania to New York via Rondout. Already, in 1841, the case for railroad versus canal transport was an issue to be debated.

I bought them both.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: U.S. / European Shipping Archive 1800-1814. The Widow Bermingham & Sons Collection. €7,000 to €10,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Bunreacht na hÉireann. Constitution of Ireland. An important copy of the First Printing of De Valera’s new Constitution, approved in 1938. Signed by the Constitution Cabinet. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: A Rare Complete Run of the Cuala Press Broadsides. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Grose (Francis). The Antiquities of Ireland, 2vols. folio London (for S. Hooper) 1791. Magnificent Hand-Coloured Copy - Only 25 Copies. €3,000 to €5,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Cantillon (Richard). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, Traduit de l'Anglois, Sm. 8vo London (Fletcher Gyles) 1756. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Gregory, (Lady Augusta). Spreading the News: The Rising of the Moon: The Poorhouse (with Douglas Hyde). Being Vol. IX of the Abbey Theatre Series. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Lavery (Lady Hazel). A moving series of three A.L.S. and a Telegram to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O'Higgins. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Dampier (Wm.) Nouveau Voyage Autour du Monde, ou l'on descrit en particulier l'Isthme de l'Amerique…, 2 vols. in one, Amsterdam, 1698. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Howell (James). Instructions for Forreine Travel Shewing by what Cours, and in what Compasse of Time…, London, 1642. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1999, First Edn., First Printing of Deluxe Collectors Edn. Signed. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: James (Wm.) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of The Late War Between Great Britain and The United States of America. 2 vols. Lond. 1818. €650 to €900.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: The Laws of the United States, Published by Authority, 3 vols. Philadelphia (Richard Folwell) 1796. €600 to €800.
  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions