Wednesday, 29 July 2009
To the Deep Web ... in search of Maxwell Gray
"Deep Web" isn't a term you see much these days, but it's quite a nice description of the vast amount of material online that isn't found by the obvious search engines (primarily Google). One common gripe is the failure of Google Books to provide full view of many texts that are clearly out of copyright, and the snippet view shows the scan exists. This is often a regional issue: in the UK, a naughty person might find accessing Google Books through a proxy server ups the access privilege. But keeping within legal/ethical options, last year Benjamin Zimmer at Language Log enthused: "All hail the Hathi Trust".
This is an initiative by a group of US university libraries, including that of the University of Michigan, where much of the Google Books scanned content was created, to coordinate search and hosting of historical texts. You can do title and author searches through portals such as Mirlyn or Miryln2, or go direct through the Hathi Trust catalog page or its experimental full-text search. There are nice facilities such as the ability of users to create customised collections of works (such as Gothic literature or Beer & Wings). A limitation is that many texts are still search-level only, but the level of full access is considerably higher than Google Books or the Internet Archive.
Maxwell Gray (Mary Gleed Tuttiett, author of The Silence of Dean Maitland). It's been remarkable difficult to find what she looked like: an artist's impression (left) in Book News, No. 134, vol 12, October 1893, was findable through the Internet Archive, but I wanted a photo. However, Google Books showed the existence of a number of biographical sketches of Gray in The Bookman; a review of books and life. The Bookman is online in the Hathi Trust connection, and I rapidly tracked down this nice photo of Maxwell Gray from The Bookman; a review of books and life. v.3, March 1896 (which heads this post). I cleaned up raster patterns with a FFT plugin, but it's still rather grainy. Enlightening, though: she looks nothing like the pinched, ill individual as drawn in Book News. I've expanded on this in the addenda to The Silence of Dean Maitland post.