We think of the Internet as having a great effect on the future. I think its greatest effect is on the past: on what we are now able to learn about history. Previously, one would have had to spend days in a library in some far-away location in order to have access to certain texts. Now these are available on-line. Additionally, when scanned texts are digitized, they become searchable. In this way, I easily discovered 17th century police correspondence about one of my characters; previously, one would have had to wade through thousands of pages of small print on the off-chance of a discovery.

Two on-line libraries I use regularly are:

Google Book: the search feature is amazing and easy to use. Additionally, you can create your own “library” of books.

Gallica: the French National Library was the first to go on-line with scanned and digitized texts. Through Gallica, I’ve been able to download a number of important books—all of the Bastille archives, for example.

Another important on-line library of historical texts I’ve used over the years is Project Gutenberg.

Of particular use to those interested in French history as well as the history of women is The ARTFL Project.

An on-line library I’ve just discovered (and looks to be of use to a 17th-century researcher) is The Internet Archive.