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Historical E-Book/Digital Collections at the OSU Library: Early American Imprints (Series I & II)

This guide will cover how to search the early e-book collections from the OSU Library for students and researchers in English/American literature, history, and other related fields

About Early American Imprints

Early American Imprints Series I contains high resolution digital scans of over 2.3 million pages from 37,000 printed works (books, pamphlets, chapbooks, maps, broadsides, musical works, illustrations, etc.) printed in America from the Colonial Era to its early years of nationhood (1639-1800).

Early American Imprints Series II spans the first two decades of American printing in the nineteenth century (1801-1819) and includes over 4 million pages from 37,000 printed works. 

Together these vast digital collections from Readex, a division of Newsbank, contain virtually every publication to come out of the British colonies and the early United States, providing historians, literary scholars, and other researchers unparalleled access to the printed output of the English-speaking New World.  The collections are full-text searchable and give the user multiple options for viewing, printing, and saving the text.  Most of the texts are in English, but some are in Latin or other European languages, and some in Native American languages.  These collections document both the books that were produced in America and the other ephemeral pieces that were printed at the time, giving an excellent overview of the culture of that time and place.

Sources for Early American Imprints

Both series of Early American Imprints are based on the standard bibliographic catalogs of printed works in the territory that became the early United States (with some Canadian works and a few other exceptions):

Charles Evans' American Bibliography (Call # 015.73 E92a; 3rd floor) with additions from Roger P. Bristol's Supplement to Charles Evans' American Bibliography (Call # 015.73 B861, 3rd floor).

Ralph R. Shaw and Robert  H. Shoemaker's American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801-1819 (Call # 015.73 S535a; 3rd floor)

These bibliographies were the foundation for the Early American Imprints microcard set which Newsbank/Readex has digitized and made available as Web-delivered databases with the Early American Imprints online series.  

Searching Early American Imprints

To access the Early American Imprints collections, go the OSU Library homepage, and under Databases go to "E"; both will be listed.  Both collections start at the Advanced Search page.  At the bottom of the page are the Browse options to view documents in the collection by Genre (type of publication), Subjects, Author, History of Printing (Booksellers, Printers, and Publishers), Place of Publication (Cities), or Language.  Above are the search boxes; users can search for terms in the book Citation Text, or specify Author, Title, Subjects, Genres, Place of Publication, Document Numbers (using the numbers given to publications in the Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker bibliographies), etc. 

There is also a "Full Text" search box in which you can enter terms, and there is also a date box for a specific date or date range.  NOTE:  The optical character recognition software does not always recognize the long "S" (sometimes it reads it as "F"), and there is no default setting for variant spellings to account for differences in Colonial spelling.  Use the * wildcard symbol as a wildcard to look for different spellings:  hi*torian for "historian" or "hiftorian."

Below is an example of a search in Early American Imprints Series I for the keyword liberty in Benjamin Franklin's work Poor Richard's Almanack (note the archaic spelling).  The * after almanac looks for the spelling variants or to account for British spellings (i.e., the search term hono*r will pull up both "honor" and "honour").  You can choose Author, Title, etc., in the drop-down menu, or Citation Text for any of those.  Full text will search the text of the e-book.

Early American Imprints Results

The results list the different books/editions of Poor Richard's Almanack in the database, and has links to view the citation, first page of the text, or to jump to the pages found containing the keyword specified (liberty).  The keyword is highlighted in the scanned page image.  The "Add to My Collections" check box to the right of the citation allows users to mark documents and email direct links to themselves.

The Found Pages link jumps to the first occurrence of the keyword.  On the left-hand side of the page is a clickable table of contents for navigation, and the bullet symbol lets users find the subsequent pages on which the keyword also occurs.  There is also a search box for a new full-text keyword search within this publication.

The document viewer has links to allow the user to view the full document citation, download the pages (individual page or page range in PDF format), pint the citation, or export the citation to a bibliographic management software package such as EndNote.  There are also buttons to control the size of the image on the page, and buttons to reorient the image, view the PDF or as a TIFF image, or print the page.