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Early English Books Online (EEBO): About

What is Early English Books Online (EEBO)?

From the first book published in English through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare, this incomparable collection now contains more than 125,000 titles listed in Pollard & Redgrave's Short-Title Catalogue (1475-1640) and Wing's Short-Title Catalogue (1641-1700) and their revised editions, as well as the Thomason Tracts (1640-1661) collection and the Early English Books Tract Supplement. Libraries possessing this collection find they are able to fulfill the most exhaustive research requirements of graduate scholars - from their desktop - in many subject areas, including English literature, history, philosophy, linguistics, theology, music, fine arts, education, mathematics, and science.

Content Description

  • EEBO consists of facsimile images scanned from the popular Early English Books I (STC), Early English Books II (Wing), Thomason Tracts and Early English Books Tract Supplement microfilm collections (issued by UMI) together with rich descriptive bibliographic metadata containing Library of Congress Subject Headings and copious bibliographic references.
  • Searchable keyed transcriptions of 25,000 EEBO texts, which can be accessed via the EEBO interface, are available separately from ProQuest (TCP Phase I collection). More than 40,000 further keyed texts are in production by the TCP and are accessible and searchable within EEBO; these can be acquired directly from the TCP by joining the second partnership (TCP Phase II collection).
  • When complete, EEBO will contain at least 125,000 works comprising more than 14 million pages of rare books.
  • The collection Includes works by major authors such as Shakespeare, Malory, Spenser, Bacon, More, Erasmus, Boyle, Newton and Galileo together with a host of less frequently studied writers.
  • The collection includes a wide array of different kinds of historical documents, from Bibles, prayer books, royal statutes, proclamations, and military, religious and other public documents, through to almanacs, musical exercises, calendars, broadsides, periodicals and newsbooks, pamphlets and proclamations.
  • The EEBO Introductions Series provides concise and informative commentaries on some of the less well known texts in EEBO. Each contribution to the series has been prepared by a specialist in the field of early modern studies and offers insights into a range of contextual, bibliographical, and reception-based issues associated with a given EEBO text.

Collection Details

About Early English Books I, 1473-1640 (STC I, Pollard & Redgrave)

From the first book published in English through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare, this incomparable microfilm collection contains nearly all of the 26,500 titles listed in A.W. Pollard and G.R. Redgrave's Short-Title Catalogue and its revised edition. Libraries possessing this collection find they are able to fulfill the most exhaustive research requirements of graduate scholars in the areas of English literature, history, philosophy, linguistics, and the fine arts.

The collection comprehensively documents the magnificent English Renaissance - an era that witnessed the rebirth of classical humanism, the broadening of the known world, and the rapid spread of printing and education.

The writings of such revered authors as Spenser, Bacon, More, Erasmus, and Shakespeare provide unique windows onto the landscape of English history during this period. The examples from the collection listed below provide only a cursory glance at the scope of materials in the thousands of titles included.

Great Literary Works
With this collection, scholars and students of literature can examine the earliest editions of such classics as Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Malory's Morte d'Arthur. Textual scholars are able to compare variations in the early quarto editions of Shakespeare's plays with the renowned First Folio edition of 1623, and the great Renaissance authors can be studied in light of lesser-known literature from the era.

Material for the Historian
The original, printed version of royal statutes and proclamations, military, religious, legal, Parliamentary, and other public documents are reproduced in the collection. And social historians gain insight into the lives of the common people through almanacs and calendars, broadsides and romances, plus popular pamphlets such as The Trail of Witchcraft, showing the true and righte method of discovery (1616).

Research in Religion
Scholars will find a host of sermons, homilies, saints' lives, liturgies, and the Book of Common Prayer (1549). The King James translation of the Bible (1611) can be studied in relation to earlier English translations, and Latin, Greek, and Welsh translations invite comparison with the English version.

Other areas of study for:

  • science historians - beginnings of modern science
  • political scientists - debates on the divine right of kings
  • classicists - Greek and Latin authors in influential Renaissance translations such as Chapman's Homer
  • linguists - definitive data for the study of Early Modern English
  • musicologists - numerous early English ballads and carols
  • art historians and bibliophiles - a unique opportunity to analyze early typefaces and book illustrations

About Early English Books II, 1641-1700 (STC II, Wing)

Spanning the tumultuous years of the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration, this collection continues the mission of STC I to preserve valuable research materials on microfilm. With both STC I and STC II, libraries will have available for their scholars an unparalleled center, essential for research libraries supporting strong graduate studies programs.

While the notable features and purposes of this collection are the same as those of STC I, STC II contains larger bodies of titles in certain subject areas such as the arts, the sciences, popular culture, and women's studies. And, the historical perspective of an era that saw the rise of a mercantile class, the first English settlements in North America, and the development of secular philosophy and empirical science provides research possibilities into trends in British ethos and philosophy.

Students of the arts can access critical discourses on art and literature, such as:

  • Edward Filmer's Defense of Dramatick Poetry (1698)
  • Pierre Monier's History of Painting (1699)
  • Henry Purcell's A Choice Collection of Lessons for the Harpsichord (1696)

For physical scientists, the collection includes books by Boyle, Newton, and Galileo, as well as popular scientific tracts such as Nicholas Culpeper's The English Physician (1652). And students of women's studies find useful the editions of works by Aphra Behn, Anne Killigrew, and Margaret Cavendish.

The scope and caliber of these two collections are without rival, providing as they do the materials for scholars in English literature, history, religion, arts, music, physical science, and women's studies the creative latitude required for important research opportunities.

Thomason Tracts

The year 1640 in England marked the beginning of a period of tumult and change. Both the practical and the philosophical bases of the British monarchy were being challenged by determined and powerful enemies while those who defended the king shared an absolute conviction in his Divine Right to rule. The differences between these factions led to a bitter civil war and a series of experimental governments that kept England in turmoil until 1660.

This exceptional collection brings together for scholars of English history, politics, and religion nearly everything that was published in England and on the Continent during this critical period. Students and researchers today owe a debt to London publisher and bookseller George Thomason for this material. Thomason knew he was living through important historical times and set about methodically collecting copies of virtually everything that was being published - from single broadsides to substantial dissertations.

The Thomason Tracts include more than 22,000 individual items representing about 80 percent of what was published during these two decades. The collection includes almost 400 periodicals, most of them unavailable from other sources. 

These items complement the titles held in the Wing collection of Early English Books (STCII), and when used in conjunction with that collection provide the research scholar with the most comprehensive resources available. Inevitably, the collection contains a great deal of political material and features:

  • speeches made in Parliament;
  • tracts on the religious issues that reinforced political divisions;
  • gossip from or about the court;
  • sermons and political diatribes;
  • and news reports that provide detailed accounts of battles, negotiations, and political machinations.

Thomason took precise care to record the date of each paper on the same day it came out, and his neat notations still appear clearly on the title pages of many documents. In addition, he often made marginal notes disputing or ridiculing the opinions of writers he thought in error.

Especially valuable are 97 previously unpublished manuscripts, most written in Thomason's own hand, which were considered too dangerous to be circulated in their own time. In fact, Thomason was required to move the growing collection several times during these years to keep it safe, hiding these important records in the homes of friends or concealing them under false tops in library tables.

The collection Thomason left remained intact for a century, largely through luck. In 1761, King George III bought it from Thomason's descendants and presented it to the new British Museum. Thomason tracts have been used by scholars of mid-17th-century England for generations and represent an almost inexhaustible supply of material for studying military, constitutional, political, literary, and social life in England during this volatile period in world history.

Early English Books Tract Supplement

The Early English Books Tract Supplement provides an exceptional perspective on many aspects of 16th- and 17th-century British life. Over the course of many years, small items such as broadsides and pamphlets were often collected into "scrapbooks," or tract volumes, classified by various criteria such as dates or topics. These tract volumes, primarily from the British Library, allow readers to see the material in the same order as they would when leafing through the original volume.

EEBO provides comprehensive coverage of Unit 1 of the Tract Supplement. Coverage of Unit 2, the final part of this collection, is also now substantially complete in EEBO. Facsimile Document Images showing the few outstanding items from Unit 2 will be added to EEBO as part of future updates of the service.

Scholars and researchers in history, religion, literature, music, poetry, gender studies, and other fields will benefit from the unique perspective provided by this collection. Documents in the collection include:

  • proclamations, acts of the English, Scottish and Irish Parliaments, and other royal declarations;
  • letters, including the correspondence of Sir John Harrington;
  • the printed epistles of several Roundhead generals to Parliament;
  • petitions, cases, and other public documents relating to a single issue, such as the volume on the Trading Companies, which chronicles the emerging slave trade from the point of view of the Africa Company;
  • a large collection of ballads;
  • Church of England pamphlets and sermons;
  • pamphlets concerning the birth and growth of the Quaker sect;
  • almanacs;
  • auction catalogs, including prints and drawings;
  • mathematical, medical, and other scientific and practical treatises;
  • and much more.

Demo

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Features and Benefits

  • Easy Access with Preservation – provides instant, round-the-clock access to the rare book collections of over 100 libraries worldwide, and preserves fragile originals from wear and tear
  • Depth and breadth of content – exhaustive coverage of the early modern printed record ensures that a large range of faculties benefit from access to the resource
  • Quality – high-quality bitonal images can be downloaded in PDF or TIFF format; additional image-level metadata indexing provides enhanced access to works containing illustrations
  • Ownership -With EEBO you own in perpetuity a comprehensive collection of 125,000 rare books for ongoing research
  • Searchability and ease of use – EEBO offers rapid access to information from a wide variety of sources with fielded searches and multiple browse options; variant spelling functionality makes old-spelling texts readily available to novice users; searchable full text for around 25,000 works produced by the Text Creation Partnership is available for purchase or subscription from ProQuest as an add-on module
  • Supports Better Access to Books through Remote Usage - 24/7 access with ability to browse multiple indexes, perform searches across the vast collection, download and email citations, and download entire books for printing or saving
  • Complete integration with library systems and catalogues via federated searching (using the Z39.50 protocol or EEBO’s XML Gateway) or using the EEBO MARC record set (which is purchased separately from EEBO)