The Harvard Classics, a 51 volume collection of text first compiled by Harvard’s president Charles W. Eliot in 1909, are now available for free online through Internet.org.
The works, which were originally referred to as Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf, are a time capsule into the thinking of the time and include literature, philosophy, and the sciences.
The collection was originally published by P.F. Collier, who wanted to sell books to people that desired a good education. Open Culture has more: “Collier asked Eliot to ‘pick the titles’ and they would publish them as a series. The books appealed to the upwardly mobile and those hungry for knowledge and an education denied them, but the cost would still have been prohibitive to many.”