Is a question worth asking oneself. And not just because we are coming up on the centennial anniversaries of the sinking of the Titanic, the opening of Fenway Park, and the three-way race for the White House between incumbent William Howard Taft, New Jersey governor Woodrow Wilson, and Bull Mooser Teddy Roosevelt, fascinating though these things are.

Since getting my Kindle one month ago I have been downloading various titles that are in the public domain. Others have been doing the same. For historians of the Civil War era this is a treasure trove; all works published before 1923, which means most Civil War and Reconstruction titles written by primary players, are in the public domain. A few things stored in my cloud include Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (deathbed edition), James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, and Leander Stillwell’s The Story of a Common Soldier of Army Life in the Civil War, 1861-1865. All were free and downloaded to my device in a matter of seconds. I plan to use my Kindle and iPad for further primary resources in the coming months. If you are hesitating, I encourage you to explore the ereader option for at least some of your reading and research. You will be surprised at how easy it is and what is available.

(Dreiser’s The Financier was published in 1912./image Open Library)