Rand Hall, Head of Reference at the Bedford Free Public Library, has had the idea of creating an index to books on Bedford history for a couple of years but in “normal” times his usual duties at the Reference desk kept him from pursuing this task.
Enter the pandemic. Hall now alternates one week at the Reference desk and one week working from home. Ergo, the perfect setup for compiling the index. It’s a side project, said Hall, who has been a Bedford resident since 2014, but one in which he is keenly invested.
Hall explained that these are out of copyright books that have been scanned by libraries across the U.S. and submitted to the Internet Archive, so the basic work of scanning has already been done. It’s a work in progress, he said, and he plans to continue adding to the Index. Print copies of books on Bedford History are housed in the Library’s Bedford Room and for a history student, there is nothing like holding the original edition in one’s hand. Although a visit to the room will be possible-we hope-soon, the availability of Hall’s index provides access to Bedford history for readers anywhere and is an invaluable new Library service.
In Hall’s “Welcome to the Index,” he writes: “This site seeks to present the full text — emended and annotated — of every noteworthy out-of-copyright history of Bedford, Massachusetts.
Among the histories now scanned, which means you can read the text online, are:
- Abram English Brown’s “History of the town of Bedford” (1891)
- Lemuel Shattuck’s “History of Bedford” (1835)
- Josiah A. Stearns’ “Bedford” (1880)
A quick dive by this writer into “Walks and rides in the country,” by Edwin M. Bacon (1898) gives a delightful excerpt, “Concord, by way of Bedford,” tells the reader how to detour through Bedford to “enjoy the charm of a town within easy reach of the city which yet retains a country flavor.” In the 1800s
walks in the countryside were a favorite form of entertainment.
Discover your own favorite bit of local history in the Bedford Index. Every title links to a complete scan of its book.
Here is the link: www.bedfordlibrary.net—Click on Resources, then on Research, where the Bedford Index is listed. Or you can go directly to: https://www.bedfordlibrary.net/resources/bedford-by-the-book/