I don’t feel well, and I belong in bed, but I’m writing this anyway. We sometimes get research questions in the comment trail. A reoccurring one is, “Where can I find that online?” or “Send me a link to that please.” Some things are online. Many more are not. If they’re not on the Internet somewhere, we usually have no way of sharing material with you.
You are responsible for your own research. My students tended to use me as a living encyclopedia. I learned years ago to respond to questions with: “Where have you looked? What did you find? Where will you look next?” I usually can’t do more for you here. But I have some suggestions.
Someone asked where they can find books such as those in the video. Ignoring the cost, which is immense, I suggest:
1. Ebay. Items such as you saw in the archive video show up on ebay. Many of them cost more than a sane person will spend. But let’s assume you’re filthy rich. So currently on ebay you can buy a single page of a Latin Bible published in 1500. The opening bid is 250.00 US dollars. Or you can buy the 1837 reprint of Tyndale’s Bible for a surprisingly low $750.00. Or the 1938 reprint for $600.00
Rarer Watchtower items show up too, mixed in with the more common material. The full set of Studies in the Scriptures in red binding, pocket edition is on ebay for $850.00. We have that set, and ours includes the first printing of The Finished Mystery. I’d happily sell it to you for $400.00. Not that I expect any takers. The 1910 heart bookmark from the convention that year is on ebay for about $300.00. I have one. Want it? How about $200? Ridiculous, no? But if you want these things, that’s where you find them. Be patient, a lower-priced version may show up.
We built our research collection when prices were lower, and occasionally we had kind help from interested parties. In the preface posted below, B mentions The Christian Observer and The Literalist. Both show up on ebay, usually for enough money to make one blink twice. But be inventive. Use search terms beyond “Watchtower.” And sometimes you will find a scarce item for cheap. Our red covered What Say the Scriptures about Hell came to us for $5.00 because it was improperly described.
2. Online book search. There are several. These include
abe.com ; addall.com/used ; bookfinder.com and alibris.com
Again, expect to pay for what you find. One of Morton Edgar’s books on the Great Pyramid shows up on bookfinder for a relatively reasonable fifty dollars. But be aware that the online book market is awash with modern reprints. These are sometimes more expensive than an original.
3. So you don’t want to spend your life’s savings for a book? You’d be happy with a good scan? Search the title put in quotations: “the truth will make you free.” Hathitrust, google books, and other archives have scanned copies of thousands and thousands of books. We expect you to do your own search. Usually, we cannot photocopy things for you. And we’re in the same boat you are. I found this book on ebay:
I’ve been looking for this book for maybe three years. I want this book. It is important to our research. I cannot afford it.
4. So ... you can’t find what you want from one of the internet archives? Do it the old fashioned way. Major libraries have their catalogues online. The Library of Congress, the British Library and others allow online searches. If you live in the United States, much of the material in the Library of Congress is available through Interlibrary Loan. However, most of the items you may want to see will not be, and you’ll have to pay very high copy fees.
Many libraries share their catalogues through the OCLC system. [The Ohio Catalogue of Library Catalogues.] You can access it at worldcat.org . You will need to be inventive, and it won’t take you to a scan of the book you want. It will tell you which libraries, if any, have it. A few libraries will scan for free if your request is small and they think you’re a serious researcher. I always tell them why I want something, what I intend to do with it, and I sign my email with my professional title. That’s a bit of overkill, but it paves the way. Usually, there’s a huge fee. We had to pay fifty-five dollars for a photocopy that I could have made myself for about four dollars. But, then, I don’t live in Georgia, USA. So If you want to see something – be prepared to pay.
5. Ask. Much of our research library came from smiling sweetly and asking if anyone had something relevant. Big chunks of it were just given to us. Most of my personal copies of The Watch Tower back to 1919 were a gift.
6. Final thought: If you live in Mexico, Central or South America, expect what you order to be stolen out of the mail. Pay for registered, insured mail. This is true if you live in some areas of Europe, especially Russia and Eastern Europe. The Middle East is hopeless, except for Israel. But mail to and from Israel transits through Italy. If it is not registered-insured, you won’t see it. I do not mean to insult any country, but this is a fact of life.