A Commonplace Book

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Commonplace Books, Quotation and Misquotation Sources, Researching Quotes

Sources for good quotations and for researching questionable quotes.

See also: Accuracy, Attribution, and Citations.

Commonplace books

Commonplace Book (Roger Alexander)
Math and more
Commonplace Book (The American Scholar)
Commonplace Book Jeremy Cantrell [Internet Archive copy]
Language, English, more
Libraries Within Libraries (Meaghen Buckley) 2012-2017
Libraries Within Libraries is a portable, placeless archive representing the research practice of Canadian artist Meaghen Buckley. Originating in a four-month artist residency in a library in 2012, it has evolved to serve ongoing needs.
Quotable (Steve Mays)
A nice collection of (sometimes lengthy) excerpts from about 90 books and TV and movies and authors. Some preference for crime fiction, science fiction, Philosophy & Religion, Buddhism. More under the menu item "Books" at the top of the page.
Quotation Collections (A.M. Kuchling) [Internet Archive copy]
A commonplace book and quotations from comic books, Neil Gaiman, H.P. Lovecraft, Shakespeare, Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, amusing quotes from comp.lang.python, and quotes about the 2002-2006 housing market bubble. http://www.amk.ca/licenses.rdf
Richard's Commonplace Book [Internet Archive copy]
"... references I found useful while developing my own ideas about language and art, and are offered here along with a few notes on them."

Reputable Quotation Sources

These sources value accuracy, attribution, and citations.

Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Bartleby)
Comprises over 18,000 entries that reveal the etymologies, trace the origins and otherwise catalog "words with a tale to tell."
Crime Reads
Link to posts on the Crime Reads website that have the subject tag "quotes." Some good one here and usually attributed accurately to a specific title and author.
Dictionary of Science Quotations - Scientist Quotations Index (Today in Science History)
Extensive collection of quotations by scientists (and some non-scientists) about science. You can search or browse by name or topic. Good citations.
Greatest Film Lines and Movie Quotes of All Time (Tim Dirks at AMC Filmsite)
Includes Top 100, Greatest Opening and Last Lines, Best Film Speeches and Monologues, Funnies, Taglines, and more.
Internet Movie Database Search Text of Quotes (IMDb).
Search full text of quotes in movies here, or go directly to the "Quotes" page of a specific movie.
Many quotes. Classic Authors. "values quality and accuracy."
Lib Quotes
The site says its mission is to educate and inform and spread the importance of quoting with proper attribution. "Many of our verified quotations include informative footnotes and possible variant translations. You can also find plenty of useful information about authors, such as biography, links to their works in the public domain, and which other authors they are related to."
The Phrase Finder (Gary Martin)
The meanings and origins of over 1,900 English sayings, phrases and idioms. [Note: "The Phrase Thesaurus product was developed as part of a computational linguistics project that ran at Sheffield Hallam University from 1997 to 2001. The database was transferred to a commercial server in Nov 2001. That research also produced the Phrase Finder website which provides public access to the meanings and origins of many phrases and sayings in English."]
Quotations search at Bartleby (Bartleby.com)
120,000 most authoratative quotations from a dozen published (mostly early 20th century) collections of quotations including Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (10th ed.).
Quotes and sayings by famous people
Just a few (Lincoln, Einstein, Monroe), but nicely done.
Quote Investigator ("Garson O'Toole" -- nom de plume of a Yale Ph.D)
A blog that investigates the truth about quotations. Who really said what?
The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page Frank Lynch. "an amateur scholar"
The most comprehensive collection of Samuel Johnson quotations on the web. Over 1,800 quotes from Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), one of the most quoted men of the 18th century.
Wish I'd said that (Dave Hill)
Often includes good citations.
Wikiquote (Wikimedia Foundation)
Wikiquote is a free online compendium of sourced quotations from notable people and creative works in every language, translations of non-English quotes, and links to Wikipedia for further information.

Good Quotation Sites

Against Excessive Skepticism (Bill Beaty)
Collected quotes from a "science hobbyist"
All The "Cool Quotes" About Libraries, Books, And Knowledge (Marylaine Block. Ex Libris) [Internet Archive copy]
"Sharing is under siege."
Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th Ed (Bartleby)
The tenth edition of 1919 contains over 11,000 searchable quotations.
The Book of Clichés [Internet Archive Copy]
"...lists phrases to say in times of trouble in a number of categories." Since 1996.
quotes from famous people. 4481 quotes, 1308 authors, 414 books. Nice presentation for browsing. Citations.
dhcmrlchtdj [Internet Archive copy]
Quotations of Jorges Luis Borges. "I cannot combine certain letters, as dhcmrlchtdj, which the divine Library has not foreseen and which in one of its secret tongues do not contain a terrible meaning." The Library of Babel (1941).
EFF Quotes Collection 19.6 (The Electronic Frontier Foundation) [Internet Archive copy]
"A collection of the wittiest and stupidest, most sublime and most inane comments ever said or written about free speech, cryptography, privacy, civil liberties, networking, government, communication, society, human nature, reason, optimism and pessimism, progress, and more." Updated: Apr. 9, 2001
Fagan Finder: Quotations and Proverbs Search (Michael Fagan)
A search engine for other quotation sites. Attempts to collect the largest sources of quotations and related items (proverbs, sayings, maxims, amorphisms, slogans, clichés, etc.). Many of the websites included here also include things such as full text of speeches, author biographies, and quotes of the day.
Good Reads. Quotes.
Readers post their favorite quotations from books they like. Best when you find a page of quotes for a particular book. There are a fair number of misattributed, unsourced quotes here, too, unfortunately.
Government Secrecy And Openness, Quotes. (British Columbia Freedom of Information and Privacy Association)
Just a few quotes.
Insightful Quotes (Self-Discovery Portal)
The Jargon File (Eric Raymond)
A comprehensive compendium of hacker slang illuminating many aspects of hackish tradition, folklore, and humor.
Jazz Quotations
Quotes indexed by person and topic. "The #1 resource for Jazz quotes, featuring famous quotes about Jazz from every great Jazz artist. Updated regularly with new quotes!"
Jazz Quotes (Matt Mullenweg)
the quotes organized by musician
Literary Quotations [Internet Archive copy]
A small collection of quotes from a few well known authors along with a few categories
Quotations (Rory Litwin) [2009 Internet Archive copy]
from the Library Juice blog. [See also Speaking of Information: The Library Juice Quotation Book Compiled by Rory Litwin, Edited by Martin Wallace, Foreword by Michael Gorman, a compilation of quotations originally collected for the "Quotes of the Week" section of Library Juice, an e-zine published by Rory Litwin between 1998 and 2005 that dealt with philosophical and political dimensions of librarianship.]
Quotations on the Environment (Physical Plant - Recycling, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN) [Internet Archive copy]
Includes: Animals/Creatures, Consumerism/Overconsumption, Energy/Alternatives, Forests, Future, General Environmental Quotes, Global Warming, Land, Pollution, Plants, Recycling/Landfills, Sky, Stewardship, Sustainability, Water.
Quotes & Sayings (Amit Kothari)
about 20Mb. of text, as of 22nd January 2000.
Quotes About History (Ferenc M. Szasz)
Mr. Szasz is a professor of history at the University of New Mexico.
Quotations Page (Michael Moncur)
"The oldest quotation site on the Web, established 1994." Over 28,000 quotations from over 3,100 authors, more added daily.
Quoteland (David Borenstein)
Since 1997.
Quotes Archive (Cat-v.org Random Contrarian Insurgent Organization)
"Cat-v.org hosts a series of sites [including "Encyclopedia of things considered harmful"] dedicated to diverse subjects that share an idiosyncratic intellectual perspective, questioning orthodoxy and fomenting elitism and high standards in topics from software design to politics, passing by art and journalism and anything else interesting. Other than total and complete world domination, the overriding goal is to encourage and stimulate critical and independent thinking."
Rand Lindsly's Huge Quotations File (Rand Lindsly )
Mostly short quotes. all on one page.

Lists of Links to other quotations sources

Arts: Movies: Quotations (Open Directory [dmoz.org])
Pathfinder: Quotations (The Internet Public Library) [2015 Internet Archive copy]
Quotations Resources on the Internet (loQtus. Created by Jason Newquist)
Last Updated 6/19/95
Reference: Quotations (Open Directory [dmoz.org])


Ask a refrence librarian at your local library for suggestions or help in finding the right print resource for your needs. Note too that some books are available online through your library and some have ebook or digital app versions. Search your library's catalog by subjects (e.g., "Quotations, English". You can start with WorldCat!) Here are some good published books of quotations:

Bartlett's familiar quotations
Sixteenth edition, 1999.
The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs
This unique volume is devoted exclusively to English language proverbs that originated in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
The Macmillan Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Famous Phrases
Macmillan, 1987.
Oxford dictionary of quotations (Elizabeth Knowles)
[ebook] Oxford University Press, 2014. Also see: other Oxford books of quotations
The Yale book of quotations
Yale University Press, 2006. "Unique in its focus on American quotations and its inclusion of items not only from literary and historical sources but also from popular culture, sports, computers, science, politics, law, and the social scienc
The Yale Book of Quotations App
Over 13,000 quotes and proverbs from Yale University Press’s award-winning title The Yale Book of Quotations and the companion edition, The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs.

Documented Misquotes

There are books and web sites that document inaccurate quotes. Some of these are small and specialized -- maybe just a page or a magazine article or a blog post that focuses on very popular misquotes or a particular person or idea. Examples:

There are also a few that are much more extensive.

List of Misquotations (Wikimedia Foundation)
This page consists of things that many people think are correct quotations but are actually incorrect.
Greatest Film Mis-Quotes (Tim Dirks at AMC Filmsite)
Many of the original quotes are accompanied by audio clips. "Some of the most classic film lines or scenes are really only legendary and/or apocryphal."
A book of misquotations by Elizabeth Knowles.
[Print book] Oxford University Press, 2006.

Sources for Researching and Verifying Quotes

Here are some useful sources for tracking down a quotation's attribution and source and accuracy.

Amazon book store
When you want to search the text of a specific book. Many of the books in the Amazon bookstore are full-text searchable. You may be able to see a snippet or even a page view -- or not.
Google Books
Search the full text of of books provided by publishers and the many books digitized from some of the great libraries of the world. You may or may not be able to see it in context.
The Harvard Classics (Bartelby.com)
Selected by Charles W. Eliot, LLD. "The most comprehensive and well-researched anthology of all time comprises both the 50-volume “5-foot shelf of books” and the 20-volume Shelf of Fiction. Together they cover every major literary figure, philosopher, religion, folklore and historical subject through the twentieth century."
Check the "Full-text" tab to search the full-text of over 7 million books digitized from great libraries.
Internet Archive
Check the "Text contents" box before searching. Seach more than 15 million "texts" or search just books digitized from American or Canadian Libraries.
OpenSource Shakespeare (George Mason University)
Includes the 1864 Globe Edition of the complete works with excellent search by keyword, phrase, character, etc.
Quote Investigator ("Garson O'Toole" -- nom de plume of a Yale Ph.D)
A blog that investigates the truth about quotations. Who really said what?