Google Books is proving to be a treasure house for those looking for information about Boston's history. This will be the first post in an occasional series highlighting noteworthy books now available online.
Caleb Snow's A History of Boston: The Metropolis of Massachusetts from Its Origin to the Present Period (1828) was one of the first attempts to systematically record Boston's history. It is illustrated with engravings by Abel Bowen, who was also the editor of The City Record and Boston News-Letter (version 1).
King's Handbook of Boston (1881) is a well illustrated guidebook which I still use today when wandering the city.
Robert Woods of the South End Settlement House produced two sociological studies of Boston neighborhoods. Americans in Process: A Settlement Study (1902) covers Boston's West End, while The City Wilderness: A Settlement Study (1898) looks at the South End of Boston. While some of Woods' assumptions about immigrants are dated, there is good information to be found about everyday in life in Boston in the 1890s.
One note: I've not had any luck downloading entire books as PDF format files yet. Have others had this same issue?