Sunday, 10 June 2012

search history

I was writing a paper, and as a conclusion to a short section, I wanted to put "Life is a verb, not a noun".  Now, that sounds like something someone has probably said before, so I thought I would check, in case I needed to reference it.  I found the source as follows:
  • I Google “Life is a verb, not a noun”.
  • Lots of entries say it's by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, but none give a source (as usual)
  • I Google “Charlotte Perkins Gilman wikiquote”
  • I follow the link to
  • It’s not there
  • I Google “Charlotte Perkins Gilman Life is a verb, not a noun”
  • One of the entries this time looks more like like a source: I can see that it has a reference in it, to a (p. xv)
  • I follow link to
  • It’s a review by Cara L. Burnidge, of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: a biography, by Cynthia J. Davis, with a link to the book itself at
  • I follow link to
  • The Amazon page has a “look inside” version of the book, so I look to see if p.xv is included. It is, and has the quote, but no source. However, the same paragraph has several other quotes, and then an endnote reference 10.
  • I look to see if endnote 10 is included in the “look inside” version. It is, on p.409, where it says “she calls 'life' a verb in HW, 203”, which sounds like it could be the source.
  • I assume 203 is a page reference, and that HW is an abbreviation for the source. What is HW?
  • I look to see if the abbreviations are included in the “look inside” version. They are; HW = Human Work
  • I Google “Charlotte Perkins Gilman Human Work”
  • There's a Google books version at
  • I follow the link to the book; it’s not searchable.
  • Back to Google Results page; there's another version at
  • I follow the link to the book; this one is searchable.
  • I search for “verb”; there are many hits; one is on p.203. And there it is:
  • I go to the beginning of the book, and get the rest of the bibliographic details.
"Life is a verb, not a noun."
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Human Work, p203. McClure, Philips and Co, 1904.

Elapsed time, less than 15 minutes.
Try that with a paper library!

Maybe I should add it to wikiquotes...

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