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Early English Books Online (EEBO) on the ProQuest Platform

What's Online – EEBO Reel Numbers

As of August 2019, EEBO provides comprehensive coverage of:

  • Early English Books I, 1475-1640 (Pollard & Redgrave, STC I), Units 1-94 (comprising reels 1-2460 of this microfilm collection)
  • Early English Books II, 1641-1700 (Wing, STC II), Units 1-142 (comprising reels 1-3097 of this microfilm collection)
  • The Thomason Tracts Collection
  • The Early English Books Tract Supplement Collection, Unit 1
  • Coverage of Unit 2 of the Early English Books Tract Supplement, the final part of this collection, is also now substantially complete in EEBO
  • STC unit 95 and Wing Units 143-150 have been released on microfilm and are waiting to be scanned. A total of 3,421 titles and 191,734 pages are in the pipeline to be available soon on EEBO.

Users wishing to consult the microfilm version of texts that currently lack Document Images in EEBO can find the UMI Microfilm collection and reel number on the Full Record display. The Full Record also identifies the library that holds the source copy filmed (in the Copy from field).

We estimate that EEBO is approximately 92% complete while the remaining titles will be added in future releases. These will include titles discovered from the ESTC that are not in Wing or STC but were printed in England during the early modern period.

Here below you'll find more details on each of the EEBO content collections

Early English Books I, 1473-1640

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

This collection contains nearly all the 26,000 titles listed in A.W. Pollard and G.R. Redgrave’s Short-Title Catalogue and its revised edition. Offering works in the areas of English literature, history, philosophy, linguistics and the fine arts, the collection comprehensively documents the English Renaissance – an era that witnessed the rebirth of classical humanism, the broadening of the known world, and the rapid spread of printing and improved education. The writings of revered authors like Spenser, Bacon, More and Shakespeare provide unique windows onto the landscape of English history and culture during this period. Examples from the collection 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 print editions of such classics as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Malory’s Morte d’Arthur. They may also 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 the light of lesser-known literature from the era.

Material for the historian

Original printings of royal statutes and proclamations, military, religious, legal, parliamentary and other public documents are reproduced in this collection. Insight into the lives of ordinary people can also be gained through almanacs and calendars, broadsides and romances, as well as popular pamphlets like The Trail of Witchcraft, showing the true and righte method of discovery (1616).

Research in religion

Scholars will find a host of sermons, homilies, hagiographies, liturgies and the Book of Common Prayer (1549). The King James Bible (1611) can be studied in relation to earlier English translations, while Latin, Greek and Welsh translations invite comparative analysis across languages.

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

Early English Books II, 1641-1700

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

Spanning the tumultuous years of the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration, STC II continues STC I's mission to preserve valuable research materials on microfilm. With the two combined, libraries can access an unrivalled repository, essential for centers of research supporting strong graduate studies programs.

While the purpose and features of this collection align with those of its predecessor, STC II contains further, more extensive lists of titles in subject areas such as the arts, the sciences, popular culture and women’s studies. 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 rich possibilities in research.

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 those interested in the history of science, the collection includes books by Newton, Boyle and Galileo, as well as popular scientific tracts such as Nicholas Culpeper's The English Physician (1652). Meanwhile, students of women's studies can find early editions of 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

Thomason Tracts

   '… a collection of Pamphletts and other writeings and papers bounde up with them of severall volumes gathered by me in the tyme of the late warres and beginning the third day of November A.D. 1640 and continued until the happie returne and coronacion of his most gracious Maiestie King Charles the second, upon which I put a very high esteeme in regard that it is soe intire a work and not to be pararelled and also in respect of the long and greete paynes, industry and charge that hath bin taken and expended in and about the collection of them.'

     - from the will of George Thomason (d.1666)

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 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 (STC II), 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 great 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 circa 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 ensure its safety 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

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

Periodicals

There are three main types of periodical in EEBO:

  • Corantos - broad sheet publications issued mainly in the Netherlands in 1620 and 1621, the earliest news publications in the English language
  • Newsbooks - the quarto-format news publications issued in the period 1622–1642
  • Thomason Periodicals - preserved in the British Library's Thomason Tracts collection (1641–1663).

Corantos and Newsbooks are slightly different in character to the other periodicals in EEBO, and have been treated in a slightly different way to make them fully accessible to users.

Each individual coranto and newsbook is accessible throughout EEBO via a bibliographic record that documents exactly its unique title and date information, making it easy to retrieve particular items when searching. Each is also linked to an additional bibliographic record that groups together associated corantos and newsbooks according to the various series identified in Folke Dahl's definitive work A Bibliography of English Corantos and Periodical Newsbooks 1620–1642 (London: Bibliographical Society, 1952). These additional records allow users to reconstruct the original serial order in which corantos and newsbooks were issued.

These two types of records are currently indexed as Books. This may change in the near future.

The Thomason Periodicals can be searched in the Publications section of the ProQuest platform. They are also indexed as Historical periodicals Source Type. They can be searched as STYPE(historical periodical) or as DTYPE(ISSUE). The name of the periodical can also be searched by the field PUB. ex PUB(Mercurius). See more in the Search Fields page.

More background details on the Collections, ESTC and UMI

The terms "STC" (or STC I) and "Wing" (or STC II) are used in EEBO to refer to two seminal works of bibliographic scholarship that set out to define the printed word in the English-speaking world from the earliest publications of the late fifteenth century through to 1700.

STC

The first of these short-title catalogues (STC) was compiled under the auspices of the Bibliographical Society by a team of scholars led by Alfred W. Pollard (1859-1944) and G. R. Redgrave (1844-1941) over a period of about eight years. It was first published in January 1927 (though dated 1926 on the title page) as a single volume entitled A short-title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland and of English books printed abroad, 1475-1640, and comprised almost 27,000 entries. As its title suggests, the first short-title catalogue set out to list all books printed in the British Isles and books in one of the British languages (or containing appreciable amounts of text in one of the British languages) printed abroad, taking its cut-off point as 1640. Coverage thus stops a few years before the outbreak of the English Civil Wars (1642-1651), which coincided with a significant increase in the number of titles issuing from the printing presses.

The title of each item listed was given in abridged form (hence 'short-title catalogue'), and each item was assigned a number (these numbers are reproduced in the Bibliographic Name / Number field in EEBO, e.g. 'STC / 16558.5'). In addition to identifying the different editions of a given work as separate items, Pollard and Redgrave also sought to identify distinct versions of each edition (the production methods associated with the era of hand-press printing were such that it was common for corrections and other changes to be introduced in the middle of a print run, meaning that different copies of the same edition of a particular work often vary from each other).

The first edition of Pollard and Redgrave's Catalogue was based upon a survey of the holdings of the British Museum, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Cambridge University Library, and the Henry E. Huntington Library in California, with additions from one hundred and fifty other collections. Each entry supplies a list of locations of copies. A second edition of STC was published by the Bibliographical Society in three volumes appearing in 1976, 1986, and 1991; additions and corrections to the first edition increased the number of entries to around 36,000.

Wing

The term "Wing" (more rarely STC II) refers to the Short-title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British America, and of English books printed in other countries, 1641-1700, which was compiled by the bibliographer Donald Wing (1904-1972). Although the criteria used to determine the kinds of works included in Wing's Catalogue differ somewhat from those of its predecessor, it is essentially a continuation of Pollard and Redgrave's work, extending coverage through the Civil War period up to the end of the 17th century and incorporating the large collection of tracts amassed by George Thomason (d.1666) now housed in the British Library. Wing began his work in 1933, and his Catalogue was published in three volumes in New York by the Index Society, the first volume appearing in 1945, the third in 1951. It comprises around 90,000 entries. The numbers assigned to entries in Wing's Catalogue are used to identify works in EEBO (in the Bibliographic name / Number field, e.g. 'Wing / B451').

Further Reading:

W. W. Greg, ‘Pollard, Alfred William (1859-1944)’, rev. H. R. Woudhuysen, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.

A. W. Pollard, comp., A short-title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland and of English books printed abroad, 1475-1640 (London: Bibliographical Society, 1926).

Donald Wing, Short-title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British America, and of English books printed in other countries, 1641-1700 (New York: Index Society, 1945-1951).

ESTC

The useful successor to STC and Wing is the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC), which includes records for every item listed in STC, every item in Wing, every item in the Eighteenth Century Short Title Catalogue (including items catalogued by the American Antiquarian Society as part of the North American Imprints Program), and newspapers and other serials which began publication before 1801.

The ESTC is available as an online resource from the British Library. Further information about the inclusion policies and history of the ESTC can be found as part of the ESTC interface.

STC, Wing, ESTC and EEBO

Like its predecessors STC and Wing, ESTC provides information about the locations of copies of each item listed. As EEBO and the microfilm collections upon which it is based typically provide images of a single copy of the works listed in STC and Wing, the original short title catalogues and ESTC form an invaluable resource for locating alternative copies of works included in EEBO. For a wide variety of reasons, alternative copies of items filmed and scanned for inclusion in EEBO will often differ in more or less subtle ways from the EEBO version of the work, even though the same STC or Wing number has been correctly applied in each case.

Early Chronology of UMI and the Early English Books Microfilm Collections

The following chronology briefly adumbrates Power's pioneering work with microfilm and his experiments in the facsimile reproduction of early printed texts.

  • 1931: Power uses the offset method to produce a printed facsimile of the 1588 quarto of Hariot's Virginia [Thomas Hariot, A brief and true report of the new found land of Virginia (Ann Arbor: Edward Bros., 1931)]
  • 1931, July: Visits Europe and photographs a selection of STC titles as part of the University of Michigan's Early Modern English Dictionary project
  • 1934: Power converts 'parts of two movie and still cameras into what was the second microfilm book-camera in existence'
  • 1935, August: Sails for England with camera to microfilm STC titles in the British Museum
  • 1936: Announces new microfilm publishing service at American Library Association (ALA) meeting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (six libraries subscribe by the autumn of 1936)
  • 1938: Power founds University Microfilms
  • 1940-1: American Council of Learned Societies obtains Rockefeller grant of $30,000 (later $150,000) to film holdings of British libraries threatened by war damage; UMI is approached to carry out the filming
  • 1942, March: Power flies to England to establish microfilming operation at the British Museum (UMI also films intelligence material gathered in mainland Europe for US Coordinator of Information)

Source: Eugene B. Power and Robert Anderson, Edition of one: the autobiography of Eugene B. Power, founder of University Microfilms (Ann Arbor: UMI, c.1990), pp.8-15, 29-32, 87, 122-137.