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Historical E-Book/Digital Collections at the OSU Library: Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO)

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 Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)

The Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) database from Gale/Cengage Learning includes 180,000 titles (200,000 volumes) published in Great Britain and the American colonies from 1701-1800; to date there have been two major releases, ECCO I and ECCO II.  It is based on Gale’s Primary Source Eighteenth Century microfilm set.  ECCO has images of the book pages that can be downloaded as PDFs and has full-text keyword search capabilities built in.

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

Sources for Ecco

ECCO is based upon the publications from the 1700s listed in the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC).  The British Library and the American Society for 18th-Century Studies started the Eighteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue project in 1977 to create library catalog records for books published in Great Britain and its dependencies from 1701-1800.

Later these records were combined with the records from the two print STCs to become the British Library's Web-based English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) listing books printed from 1473 through 1800.

The titles covered in the two print STCs were microfilmed and then digitized to become the EEBO database (1475-1700), but Gale's Primary Source created microfilm sets books from 1701-1800 from the ESTC which have now been digitized to become the ECCO database.

The titles in the ESTC have been available in UMI’s Early English Books  beginning in the 1930s and then later in Gale Primary Source Eighteenth Century microfilm sets.

Searching ECCO

ECCO features both Basic and Advanced Search; you can search by keyword (significant fields of the record and metadata), author, title, or search for keywords or phrases in the full text of the entire document.  You can also browse authors or works.  There are date limits, and additional limits to search illustration type, subject area, and language.  For full-text searching, the Fuzzy Search options look for near matches and variant spellings.

The truncation symbol (*) looks for multiple characters; the wildcard symbol (?) looks for one character.  ECCO also has proximity operators; Wn = follows: wealth w2 nations or; and Nn = near: adventures n3 crusoe.

In full-text searches, ECCO does have stop words, common words ignored in searches, so “bless my heart” (phrase search) will also pull up bless his heart or bless her heart in the results.

Below is the Basic Search screen where you can search for terms and limit by year as well as subject area:

Advanced search has additional search boxes, and has drop-down menus to set the level of the Fuzzy Search (None, High, Medium, Low). 

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Here is a full text search example to demonstrate how to look for keywords and phrases in ECCO books.

To find the phrase "Then cease bright nymph" in a book published during the 1700s, enter those terms with quotation marks and select "Entire Document" in the first drop-down menu:

ECCO Results

The results list consists of books from ECCO in which that phrase occurs.  The results have links to the Full Citation, the eTable of Contents of the book, List of Illustrations, and the Keyword in Context which displays a pop-up window with a brief preview of the passage in which the keyword or phrase appears.  You can save titles to the Marked Items list for downloading, citing, and printing.  You can also sort results by author, title, date (descending or ascending).

In the upper right-hand menu

You can search for additional terms within the results set using the green Search within these results box.  NOTE:  the OCR software Gale uses sometimes makes mistakes (i.e., “f” for “s” confusion) even with high Fuzzy Search settings.

When click on title in the results list, you go to the Page View mode.  The page image is displayed at 33% by default, but the size can be adjusted.  There in the upper right-hand section of the page are the icons to print (print the current page, entire document, or view/print up to 250 pages in PDF format), email , save (current page, entire document, or up to 250 pages in PDF format), or generate a citation(in MLA 6th Ed., APA, plain text, or export to EndNote or other citation manager).

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Below are the results from the full-text (entire document) search for the phrase "Then cease bright nymph" demonstrated in the box above.

Click on the Title link to view the e-book in which the phrase occurs (Alexander Pope's poem The Rape of the Lock.)

When viewing the digitized book, the links to the pages/page image on which the keyword or phrase appears is in the green box on the left-hand side of the page.  (There is also a search box in which you can do a new search for a keyword or phrase to search for in the text.) 

The keyword or phrase will be highlighted on the text in green.

Note that ECCO was able to identify the "long s" in "cease" from the results above.  The software does, however, make some errors reading the old typography from eighteenth-century works, and as noted in the box above, stop words in phrases cannot be searched.