Free Books on Mnemotechnics

While searching for new memory books to read, I came across a few interesting books on mnemotechnics through Google Books that are in the public domain. I haven’t read them yet, but here they are in PDF format.  You may need to apply memory techniques just to remember the titles.  To download them, right-click on the links and choose “save link as…”

American Mnemotechny

American Mnemotechny by Pliny Miles

Memoria Technica, [7 Mb] Or a New Methods of Artificial Memory, Applied to and Exemplified in Chronology History Geography Astronomy, Also Jewish, Grecian and Roman Coins, Weights, Measures, &c. With Tables Proper to Their Respective Sciences and Memorial Lines Adapted to Each Table by Richard Grey, D.D. (1799)

American Mnemotechny [11.5 Mb], Or the Art of Memory, Theoretical and Practical; on the Basis of the Most Recent Discoveries and Improvements in Europe and America: Comprising the Principles of the Art, As Applied to Ancient History, Sacred and Profane; Modern European, Asiatic and American History; Remarkable Battles, Treaties of Peace, Great Discoveries and Inventions, Biographies of Eminent Persons, Sovereigns of England and France, Presidents of the United States, Geographical Tables, Latitudes and Longitudes, Chemical and Astronomical Statistics, Sentiments of Flowers, Mythology, Prose, Poetry, Names, Etc., Etc., Etc. with a Mnemotechnics Dictionary by Pliny Miles (1848)

Modern Mnemotechny: [6 Mb] Or, How to Acquire a Good Memory; Comprising the Principles of the Art, and Its Application to the World’s Important Facts: Embracing History, Chronology, Geography, Biography of Eminent Persons, Presidents and Sovereigns, Remarkable Battles, Treaties of Peace, Population, Distances, Inventions, Improvements, Etc., Etc., of All Ages and Nations; Including All the Battles and Principal Events of the Late Civil War Also, the Local Facts and Rules for Arranging, Delivering, and Reporting Speeches, Sermons, Etc. with a Mnemotechnic Dictionary, Containing Most, of the Words in Common Use; Such As Will Be of Great Benefit to the Student and General Reader by A. S. Boyd (1886)

Modern Mnemotechny appears to be a paraphrased version of American Mnemotechny. I haven’t looked at them closely enough to see what the relationship between the books is.

EDIT: also check out Phreno Mnemotechny [40 Mb] written by Francis Fauvel-Gouraud in the 19th century.

EDIT: download some books by the “Major” of the Major System, Major Beniowski. It appears that Aimé Paris came up with the modern major system before the Major, but it is now know by the Major’s name.

EDIT: download Aimé Paris’ book from 1825 here, which apparently is the first publication of the major system in its modern form:

A forum member mentioned another book called The Training of the Memory in Art [PDF] by Lecoq de Boisbaudran. If you read it, leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

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    9 comments

    • thanks men for sharing this im also studying those memory techniques thanks again !

    • I read a part of the first one, “Memoria Technica”. Interesting stuff. Using a self-made phonetic system, the author combines the first syllable(s) of the thing he wants to remember a number for, with the syllables that represent the number. For example, according to him, King Cyrus founded his monarchy in 536 B.C., so he remembers Cyr-uts, in which uts represents 536. No images, just phonetics.

      That’s basically the Introduction. The rest of the book consists of examples of “Memory Lines” (sentences consisting of the aforementioned syllables) to remember the things mentioned in the title of the book. Thanks for sharing.

    • I just found out that the book by Grey has been ‘reviewed’ in “The new art of memory”, page 45 (http://www.archive.org/stream/newartofmemoryfo00fein#page/44/mode/2up).

      “Dr. Grey changed figures into letters, and thus made words; but these words could not be fixed in the memory without constant repetition, and strenuous application; the different words required to be remembered in his Memoria Technica, being almost equally burthensome with the facts and dates which they were intended to imprint upon the memory.”

    • Thanks for collecting these, they are a very interesting look at 18th and 19th century mnemonics.

      From a skimming, the technique in Memoria Technica of memorizing thousands of nonsense words with no other assistance seems impractical, although probably better than nothing.

      The relation between Modern Mnemotechny and American Mnemotechny seems to be the same as the relation between lots of memory books as they are published today, namely: relating the exact same techniques in a new book as in an old one, after a sufficiently polite length of time has passed.

    • Also check out Phreno Mnemotechny by Fauvel Gouraud if you haven’t seen it. I’ve only skimmed it, but it’s the earliest version of the modern Major System that I’ve found. Apparently the book was highly popular at the time.

      You can download it here: [40 Mb PDF]
      http://blog.artofmemory.com/files/pdf/Phreno_Mnemotechny_Gouraud.pdf

    • Pingback: The History and Evolution of the Major System for Memorizing Numbers — Mnemotechnics.org

    • Nice, thanks! Love these old books. Did you read the … “Ante-Praedictum” in that last one? The author does not come off well at all.

    • Which page is it on?

    • Several new books have been added to the post, including a version of the modern major system from 1825 — the oldest mention so far.

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