Book Traces, A Project Collecting 19th and Early 20th Century Library Books With Customizations From Original Owners

Book Traces
Longfellow’s Poems and Ballads

Book Traces is a crowd-sourced project collecting 19th and early 20th century library books with customizations like marginalia and inserts from original owners. The project, led by Andrew Stauffer at the University of Virginia, aims to preserve these bits of history given that wide-scale digitization of texts often leads libraries to consider one copy of a book as good as another, meaning that any unique additions will likely be lost going forward.

Thousands of old library books bear fascinating traces of the past. Readers wrote in their books, and left notes, pictures, letters, flowers, locks of hair, and other things between their pages. We need your help identifying them because many are in danger of being discarded as libraries go digital. Books printed between 1820 and 1923 are at particular risk. Help us prove the value of maintaining rich print collections in our libraries.

Book Traces
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Book Traces
The Age of Wordsworth

photos via Book Traces

via Clive Thompson