Early Books: History Research Guide

Early English Books Online (EEBO)
15th - 17th centuries

Digitial imagesof virtually every work printed English from 1473-1700.
[ Based on 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.]

Early American Imprints. Evans (1639-1800) Series I
17th - 18th century
Full-text and full-page-image access to books, pamphlets and broadsides printed in America from 1639-1800.
[ Based on the American Bibliography by Charles Evans (14 vols., 1903-34, 1955-59); and subsequent bibliographic works by Roger Bristol, James Mooney and Clifford Shipton.]

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)
18th century
Digital images of English and foreign-language titles printed in the United Kingdom, along with thousands of important works from the Americas, between 1701 and 1800.
[ Based on the English Short Title Catalog.]

Eighteenth-Century Book Tracker
18th century
Tool for locating eighteenth-century items in Google Books.

Early American Imprints. Shaw-Shoemaker (1801-1819) Series II
19th century 
Provides full-text and full-page-image access to books, pamphlets, and broadsides published in America from 1801 through 1819.
[Based on the authoritative American Bibliography by Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, which is now supplemented by thousands of new items.]

HATHITRUST Digital Library
Digital preservation repository for the archiving and sharing of the digitized collections of the libraries of a number of major research universities. It provides long-term preservation and access services for public domain and in copyright content from a variety of sources, including Google, the Internet Archive, Microsoft, and in-house partner institution initiatives. NCSU is a member institution.

Internet Archive
Openly accessible, non-profit digital library. The site is organized by media type, then by collection, so it's difficult to browse. The archive includes a large number of early printed books that have been digitized from many different academic libraries. If you are searching for a specifc title, this is a good place to search.

Google Books
An increasingly good tool for accessing books in the public domain, making it great for finding and reading books published before 1923. (Search terms in snippet context may be displayed for copyrighted works). Access to this large database is through keyword search of full text, which works especially well if you have an exact title. The Advanced Search approach shown here lets you limit to publication date span.


English Short Title Catalog (ESTC)
15th - 18th centuries

Citations only (from the British Library). Aims to be complete record, including all genres of printed material written in English or printed in British Isles and/or North America. Includes many items not available digitally. Shows which library holds original item, and includes call numbers.


Background Information

A Guide to ESTC, EEBO, ECCO and Beyond
Article by Stephen Karian, Assoc. Professor, Dept. of English, Marquette Univ.

Gadd, Ian. “The Use and Misuse of Early English Books Online .” Literature Compass 6 (2009): 1-13 ( Wiley Interscience ). Article by Gadd offers a good mini-history of the progress from the original STC through EEBO and ECCO, and explains why neither EEBO nor any other electronic reproduction replaces the original printed book.