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The internet is a key tool in democratizing knowledge. When I first began researching the Sharon Temple twenty-five years ago, my local library had next to nothing about it. The research library at my university had more, but it wasn’t until I received access to the rare book collections behind multiple layers of security that I was able to discover some of the reasons this place deserved National Historic Designation. Those barriers have kept this place a local treasured secret.

The internet has changed all that. Thanks to government sponsored organizations like archive.org you can read and download (for free!) all of those rare books by David Willson that I had such a hard time finding. Free access over the internet is a critical part of “free” speech – all citizens deserve access to the founding documents of this country. That’s what makes recent government cuts to the National Archives of Canada so troubling. Our collective past is being hidden from us. Canada was already behind in digitizing its historical and archival collections. Much of this material will now moulder in obscurity. Visit www.savelibraryarchives.ca to get involved in the fight to preserve Library and Archives Canada.

Visit archive.org and explore its extensive collections. As a sample, take a look at some of these books by the founder and leader of the Sharon Temple, David Willson:

The practical life of the author: from the year 1801 to 1860 (Newmarket, 1860)

Letters to the Jews (Toronto, 1835)

Impressions of the Mind: To which are added some remarks on church and state discipline, and the acting principles of life (Toronto, 1835). NOTE: the table of contents is at the very back of the book.

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