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Historical E-Book/Digital Collections at the OSU Library: Early English Books Online (EEBO)

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 English Books Online (EEBO) & Text Creation Partnernship (TCP)

Early English Books Online (EEBO) is a ProQuest (Chadwyck Healey) database with images from the UMI microfilm reels of books in the STCs plus other sets such as Thomason Tracts and other collections.  The database contains over 126,000 titles in as PDF and TIFF images for books and other printed publications from 1473 to 1700.

The companion EEBO-Text Creation Partnership (TCP) is a project starting in 1999 by the University of Michigan and Oxford University with ProQuest to create searchable SGML/XML plain text versions of key EEBO texts (~25,000 currently).  It can be searched in the ProQuest EEBO or through its own interface from the University of Michigan, but that version has limited search functionality compared to the ProQuest EEBO search features.

You will need to log in with your OSU email address and O-Key password to access EEBO off-campus.  Click HERE to log in.

Sources for EEBO

EEBO is based on the two Short Title Catalogs (STC I and II) of books printed in England (including other parts of Great Britain the colonies)  from 1475 to 1700:

Pollard. A. W. and G. R. Redgrave.  A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland and Ireland and English Books Printed Abroad 1475-1640.  Call # 015.42 P771s  Gen. Ref. (1st floor)

Wing, Donald. Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland and Ireland, Wales and British America and of English Books Printed in Other Countries 1641-1700.  Call # 015.42 W769s 1994  Gen. Ref. (1st floor)

Books listed in the STCs were microfilmed by University Microfilms International starting in the 1930s, and have been made available to library as the Early English Books microfilm set.

In addition to the digital scans of STC titles, other collections have been added to EEBO such as the Thomason Tracts (pamphlets, broadsides, periodicals, etc. from the English Civil War period, 1641-1661 ) and the EEBO Tract Supplement.  The total date coverage of EEBO is 1473 to 1700.

Searching EEBO

EEBO has both Basic and Advanced Searches, and Periodicals and lets you browse Authors, Thomason Tracts, and Periodicals included in the database (mostly early newspapers).

Keyword(s) searches words or phrases in the record (authors, titles, subjects,  STC #, etc.) or in the full text of the ~25,000 EEBO TCP-encoded texts.  The subjects are modern Library of Congress subject headings.

The variant spelling checkbox includes early spellings (iealous for “jealous”) and variant forms looks for different forms of the word(s).

There are truncation (*) & wildcard (?) symbols: je?lo?s*; but they cannot be used with variant spellings.  Proximity operators to look for words near or within a certain number of other words are NEAR (NEAR.n) and FBY (FBY.n) = followed by:  world’s near.3 stage and arrows fby.3 fortune.

The Advanced Search feature has additional limits, including full-text keyword search limits in section (preface, prayer, song, etc.), illustration type, language, STC number, microfilm reel position, book library of origin, etc.

Cross-searching with the Cengage Gale Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) database is possible in EEBO; clicking on results in the ECCO database will take you to that database and out of the EEBO interface.  See the ECCO tab in this guide for how to search the ECCO database itself.

You can also search for e-books in EEBO with keywords, author, title, etc. using the Library's Big Orange Search System (BOSS) book search (in the orange search box on the Library homepage) or the Library Catalog (Basic) or Catalog (Advanced) search.  Neither BOSS nor the Catalog can easily correct for variant spellings and they cannot search the full text of TCP-encoded texts, so it is better to search the EEBO database itself if you cannot find what you need.

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Here is a search example to demonstrate how to do full-text searching of TCP-encoded e-book texts in EEBO. 

In this example, you are trying to find a work from a book published from 1473-1700 in which the phrase "three sins in killing three" appears.

Below is the Basic Search with a keyword search entered for the phrase.  This will search the full text of all the TCP-encoded texts:

EEBO Results

From the results page you can view the document record , thumbnail images , full document images (as PDF or TIFF) , illustrations , and full text  for TCP-encoded texts.

Add to marked list to save records, email, or format for EndNote,etc.  Can download whole title in PDF format (based on reel position in Early English Books microfilm set, or download the keyed text if available.

For full-text keyword or phrase searches, there will be a link to the keyed-in page from the TCP text with the occurrence(s) of the term(s), and the symbol will show you the term(s) in context.

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Below is the result screen from the "three sins in killing three" full-text keyword search from the box above. 

The phrase appears the Poems of John Donne (specifically in his poem "The Flea").  the results give you a link to the full-text page containing the phrase:

The TCP text version of the poem with the phrase is below.  Note that the text uses a variant spelling: "three sinnes in killing three."  The link with the icon lets you view the original document image of the page.