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A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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A Million Readable Articles and Books at Your Fingertips
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After many months of difficult work, I’ve now finally released my new content-archiving website UNZ.org, providing convenient access to over a million readable articles and books written by hundreds of thousands of authors. The system also provides links and references to another million articles not readable for copyright reasons.

The collection includes the near-complete archives of hundreds of English-language periodicals from the last 150 years, some of which were once among the most influential in America, but have subsequently been forgotten. Most of this material has never been previously available anywhere on the Internet.

As one example of its usefulness, Harvard University’s Nathan Glazer some time ago contacted me and asked my assistance in locating a couple of articles published during the 1940s by an old friend of his in Dwight Macdonald’s Politics. Although Harvard boasts the renowned Widener Library, one of the largest in the world, locating the articles might have normally taken hours or even days, while I found them within five minutes, as well as several of his own articles from that same era (for copyright reasons, only the pieces in Politics are readable).

As another example, just after I released the system late last week, someone stumbled upon Friedrich Hayek’s article about his cousin the noted philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein published in the August 1977 issue of Encounter, and within a day or two, nearly three thousand people had read the article, probably for the first time. I’ve previously written about the enormous influence of that vanished magazine, originally funded by the CIA, which arguably functioned as a major taproot of both the neoliberal and neoconservative ideological movements.

I would hope that these millions of newly available pages of high-quality content may prove a major resource for historians and other academics.

 

Given the vast quantity of the material and the lack of previous organization, I have developed a number of software systems to maximize the accessibility.

First, all the material is grouped in variety of different ways, including stratification by author, publication, date, and general topic, while the full contents of each particular issue of a periodical are also presented in a table-of-contents format. Book reviews and the books reviewed are directly linked to each other.

All of this material is searchable, by title, text, date, and other criteria, which sometimes yields unexpected nuggets of historical interest. For example, when I did a casual search for “Pearl Harbor” across all periodicals published from Sept. to Nov. 1941, I discovered that Argosy Weekly, then one of America’s most popular national magazines, had published a September 1941 cover story providing a fictionalized account of the bombing of Tokyo by America’s Pearl Harbor fleet.

However, given the enormous quantity of previously unorganized material, traditional searches may often be less effective than various other techniques, such as my Javascript-based dynamic Clouds and Lists that allow the browsing of thousands of items falling into a particular category.

For example, the Articles Page displays Clouds of authors and periodicals, followed by a list of individual articles ordered by title. Within each Cloud, the size of each name corresponds to the amount of content, while the color tint indicates what fraction is readable (due to copyright issues), with bright blue indicating greatest readability and black least.

As a user begins typing in any letters of an author’s name, an article title, a periodical, or a time period, the Clouds and Lists immediately adjust to reflect those changes. This allows the quick location of a particular writer and also indications of the relative prominence of writers in a particular time period or genre. For example, once “Cham” has been typed into the author field, the Cloud readjusts to display only the dozens of authors whose names start with “Cham”:

A similar approach applies to individual publications, such as The Atlantic Monthly, whose pre-1923 contents are copyright-expired and readable. The main page displays its own Cloud of authors, and may be used to filter the publication by clicking the link, for example showing only the pieces by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Everything is fully searchable by text, title, period, author, and various other criteria, as in these pages containing the words “Lincoln” and “Grant.”

One difficulty faced by modern historians and researchers has been “survivorship bias,” with undue weight often placed on those publications from a century ago that happen to have survived into the present day, such as The Nation, The New Republic, The Atlantic, and Harpers. But in the past, other periodicals often had comparably large subscriber bases and intellectual influence, although their names have long been forgotten, including The North American Review, Munsey’s, McClure’s, The Century, The Forum, The Bookman, The Literary Digest, Scribners, and The Outlook. This same pattern continued during the first half of the 20th Century, as Colliers, The American Mercury, and The Saturday Review at times carried great intellectual and popular weight. Indeed, I’ve been told that as late as the 1960s, the two most important reviews for any serious American book were those that ran in The New York Times and The Saturday Review, with only the latter having a national distribution. I’ve also explained during much of the 1950s and 1960s, The Reporter filled much the same political role as The New Republic later did across the 1980s and 1990s.

During different eras, ideological gaps have been filled on the left by The New Masses and IF Stone’s Weekly, and on the right, by The American Review, Father Coughlin’s Social Justice, and the later American Mercury. The drastic ideological evolution of Commentary, from leftist to neoconservative, and National Review, which moved in the opposite direction, may be seen by casually examining the changing backgrounds of their contributors and contents pages over time.

Given the vast quantity of material, it is obviously useful to be able to retain interesting items at one’s fingertips, so I have provided individual users with the option of building up their own personal Library, with the contents saved as a cookie on their browser. Any of the articles or books displayed ona page may be dragged and dropped with the mouse into the Clipboard that automatically opens at the top of the page, or tagged by clicking the checkbox and then added with a button. This same option applies for authors or periodicals, which may be added to the Clipboard as well. Although the Clipboard contents are temporary, the Library page allows the items to be moved into the shelves of the permanent Library, again either by dragging them with the mouse or by tagging them.

The Library page also provides a number of sample “Available Libraries” that may be loaded into the system, such as “The New York Intellectuals” or “Neoconservative Origins,” providing immediate access to a collection of the periodicals and authors in question. Once a Library has been produced or loaded into the system, users may conduct text or title searches restricted to that Library or any one of its shelves, thereby allowing searches to be fully customized with respect to any desired set of general contents. As an example, one of the sample Libraries is “Academics on Race and IQ,” and here is the result of a search for all articles and books by those individuals that contain the word “Race” in the title.

I believe that this potential resource greatly multiplies the total published content conveniently available from our nation’s past, and I hope that researchers, academics, and others will begin to make considerable use of it.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: UNZ.org 
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  1. Ramparts would be an interesting addition if you could get it.

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    • Replies: @Ron Unz
    Actually, Ramparts is already in the system. I should have mentioned it.

    http://www.unz.org/Pub/Ramparts/
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  2. @Robin Masters
    Ramparts would be an interesting addition if you could get it.

    Actually, Ramparts is already in the system. I should have mentioned it.

    http://www.unz.org/Pub/Ramparts/

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  3. Very interesting. These archives would be a useful way to track social/political change using what we can call “primary sources” (the new universal secondary source, Wikipedia, is heavily policed by PC goons.)

    I have already made an attempt to do something like this using the Unz.org archive, here, in a comment about political change from 2000-2015.

    Thank you, Ron Unz. We all owe a debt of gratitude to you.

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  4. You deserve a national award for this Mr. Unz, someone should start a petition. Some people are just destined to do big things I guess. The rest of us, well, so much depends on the responses in our inbox.

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  5. Some of my searches brought me to unz.org and I was puzzled why there was no mention of this database on unz.com.
    This is amazing. Can’t wait to dive into this treasure.

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  6. War for Blair Mountain [AKA "Bill Blizzard and his Men"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Supercool!!!!!….Request:could you put up lots of older newspapers-journals of The US Working Class….even phd thesis on US Working Class History.

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  7. Many thanks for all of your hard work. I was just wondering what happened to The Saturday Review of Literature, which used to be must reading.

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  8. Thank you, Mr. Unz, for using your considerable talents to develop these marvelous public services, unz.com and unz.org. Vision and technical skill are a rare combination, and so rarely used for the public good.

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  9. Marty [AKA "wick"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    For years, I’ve been trying to locate a piece I once read in The American Spectator called “Frosty’s Revenge.” Well, thanks to the new engine, I finally found it. Thanks Mr. Unz. Now for the recommendation:

    If you remember pre-yuppie San Francisco, you’ll want to read this story. If you’re Steve Sailer, you’ll be interested in the author’s digressions about “pre-tackball” Beverly Hills. And if you’re the Sailer commenter known as Truth, better not read it.

    http://unz.org/Pub/AmSpectator-1993sep-00030?View=PDF

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  10. This is pretty awesome. Kudos. Oh and the name Nathan Glazer, wow, reminds me that “neoconservative” didn’t always refer for the most part to foreign policy.

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  11. If this was your only public service Ron you ought to be famous for it and entitled to be proud. As I have said elsewhere I hope you will be a force for overcoming the excesses of Disney bought Copyright protection. When legislatures grant largesse in the shape of monopoly rights that wouldn’t otherwise exist or be enforceable no more should be given than is necessary to achieve the purpose of creation and publication. Patents for 20 years are about right perhaps.

    Mention was made above of PhD theses. Forgive me if I have missed something, but have you put on your agenda the inclusion of academic theses from around the world?

    And, forgive again if I have not done my homework, is there/could you provide, a way to avoid bad books by giving quick access to most reviews. So, in 20 years time when someone comes across the intriguing book which claims that the great early 15th century eunuch admiral took his fleet as far as the Americas, the devastating reviews will be readily found….

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  12. Sir, I wish to thank you for your efforts in putting together this fabulous website, I’ve come across it a few times in the past and have found myself returning to it over and over again. I just have one minor thing to point out and I hope you will not take it as a slight to all of your hard work.

    When I do a search, the drop down menu asks “first 20, first 100″ etc and I know that there are more than 100 results but I can’t seem to reach the rest of the results..i.e. no way to go to page 2 of the results and beyond. Perhaps I am missing something?

    Thank you in advance for any help in this matter.

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  13. Thanks.

    I have an idea. An Unz Review youtube recommendation list compiled and rated by Unz commentators. I recently watched a 7-part BBC documentary on the Spanish Civil War produced in 1978. It’s a work of art and a fascinating historical document in its own right. It made me wonder what other master works that I know nothing about are just a link away.

    It cold take the form of a nomination ranked by up votes. Not that this doesn’t likely exist elsewhere but I like the judgement of the crowd here more.

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  14. Dear Mr. Unz:

    Thank you!

    You are a living National Treasure. You are the type of citizen Washington or Jefferson would have been proud of. This generous gift of yours is really needed now.

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  15. Congratulations, the site is very navigable. Now you need to build a similar apparatus for some slice of the internet. The world deserves better than Google, and this would be a start.

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  16. Spectacular, indispensable work. I genuflect in your general direction and thank you most sincerely.

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  17. […] Millions of Readable Articles and Books at Your Fingertips – Free archive of 20th century journalism courtesy of software guy Ron Unz […]

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