This is a wonderful source of freely accessibly information for the genealogist or history buff. Hours and hours of free reading are at hand when you access the numerous collections of digital scans of important historical documents, books, and other materiel from the vast collection at Cornell University. There are three I would like to call your attention to:
The Making of America Collection a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction.
The New York State Historical Collection. The opening page of the collection states: "The Cornell University Library New York State Historical Literature is a collection of selected monographs, pamphlets and other materials with expired copyrights chosen from from the Cornell Library's extensive collection of New York State Literature."
Cornell Daily Sun Issues of this daily newspaper available on line date from 1880 through 1979.
Access to all of these collections is free. Check 'em out.