What is Early English Books Online?
Following its first launch in 1998, EEBO now contains page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and
works in English printed elsewhere from 1473–1700. More than 200 libraries worldwide have contributed to EEBO. List of libraries
From the first book published in English through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare, this incomparable collection contains more than 130,000 titles and
more than 17 million scanned pages as listed in 4 collections - 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. EEBO covers more than 30 languages from Algonquin to Welsh, and variant editions and multiple copies.
These 4 collections were part of the original UMI Microfilms Collection Project.
The EEBO project is currently scanning 100,000 more pages to add to this collection.
New STC I (Unit 91) and Wing (Unit 139) titles will be released in September 2016.
TCP I and TCP II are now available on EEBO, adding transcriptions of approximately 50% of the texts on EEBO. They are separate add-on subscriptions or purchases to EEBO. Please contact your library for more information.
In March 2016, in cooperation with ProQuest, JISC commissioned the following study: "The Impacts of Digital Collections: Early English Books Online & House of Commons Parliamentary Papers", by Eric T. Meyer (University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute) and Kathryn Eccles (University of Oxford).
For a full PDF version of this report, please go to : http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2740299
As of September 2016, EEBO has:
- Approx. 132,000 titles
- 17 million plus pages
- Material from 27 unique source libraries
Frequently Asked Questions
provides access to:
and the Text Creation Partnership (TCP I and TCP II)
To accompany the citations and page images, a separate initiative, the Text Creation Partnership (TCP), has been creating accurate full-text transcriptions for a large selection of EEBO works. The TCP partnership began in 1999 as an innovative collaboration between ProQuest LLC, the University of Michigan, and Oxford University. The aim was to convert 25,000 books from EEBO into fully-searchable, TEI-compliant SGML/XML texts. This collaboration extended to a funding partnership with JISC and a collection of libraries so that now TCP texts are jointly owned by more than 150 libraries worldwide, creating a significant database of foundational scholarship.
Libraries that have EEBO in their collections can seamlessly move between the text transcriptions and the corresponding original page images on the ProQuest interface. ProQuest’s expert digitization and indexing amplifies the benefit of the full text from TCP, enabling precision searching – made possible through tools that address variant spellings and word forms - and delivery of exceptionally crisp page images.
Selection of Titles for Transcription
- Selection is based on the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (NCBEL). Works are eligible to be encoded if the name of their author appears in NCBEL. Anonymous works may also be selected if their titles appear in the bibliography. The NCBEL was chosen as a guideline because it includes foundational works as well as less canonical titles related to a wide variety of fields, not just literary studies.
- In general, priority is given to first editions and works in English (although in the past Latin and Welsh texts have been tackled).
- Titles requested by users at partner institutions are placed at the head of the production queue.
A list of TCP full text works currently available in EEBO
can be found if you are a subscriber or an EEBO-TCP partner: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebogroup/
From 2000-2009, EEBO-TCP Phase I successfully converted 25,363 selected texts from the EEBO corpus. Demonstrating that the project promotes the ethos of joint sponsorship and ownership, since January 2015 these EEBO-TCP Phase I texts became freely available on the websites of the University of Michigan Library and the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford.
Begun in 2010, EEBO-TCP Phase II seeks to convert each unique first edition in EEBO: around 45,000 books on top of the 25,000 completed in Phase I. Currently, EEBO-TCP Phase II texts are available to authorized users at partner libraries. The Phase II corpus will be available for sale exclusively through ProQuest for five years from July 2015, after which these texts will also become open-access.
EEBO-TCP user Survey:
An EEBO-TCP user survey carried out in 2012 captured responses from 220 EEBO users.
Both images are from: Siefring, J. & Meyer, E.T. (2013). Sustaining the EEBO-TCP Corpus in Transition: Report on the TIDSR Benchmarking Study. London: JISC.
Available online: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2236202.
How TCP material is being used today:
Samuli Kaislaniemi is a PHD student in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Helsinki. He used the TCP collection to show spelling variation [link] for i/j and u/v and when they fell out of use:
Douglas Duhaime at University of Notre Dame has been researching co-citation networks in the EEBO-TCP Corpus link.
In this graph below, each node has been assigned a color. These colors are determined by an algorithm that identifies clusters of nodes that are commonly cited together, and then colors the different clusters accordingly. Analyzing the nodes that cluster together, one finds four particularly well-defined groups of references: the light blue cluster of nodes, which are biblical books (Leviticus, Corinthians); the red cluster of nodes, which are classical references (Macrobius, Lucretius); the yellow cluster of nodes, which are Reformation-era martyrs and theologians (Theodore Beza, Richard Turner); and the purple cluster of nodes, which are literary writers (Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare). The results of the procedure are intuitively legible: each group represents a fairly homogenous collection of authors and works, and the divisions that split the groups apart represent fairly significant generic differences between the various references contained in the data. When discussing the so-called "battle of ancients and moderns," for instance, graphs like the present one might help students visualize the different ways early modern citation practices established divisions between these groups.
"What impressed me was the advantages offered by scale of the corpus and the rigour of its markup. Both of these features of the TCP project enabled me and Dan to produce – with surprising speed – a set of results for a question that would otherwise be much more difficult to answer."
Stephen H. Gregg, Lecturer in English at Bath Spa University, Specialising in eighteenth-century literature and digital humanities.
Please visit the Text Creation Partnership web site at
Find out if your institution is a member of the Text Creation Partnership:
University of Michigan interface for TCP I Open access material: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebogroup/
University of Oxford interface for TCP I Open access material: http://ota.ox.ac.uk/tcp/
See also Blog from Oxford University TCP Hackfest:
Hackfest blog at: http://www.aphrabehn.org/ABO/hacking-the-early-modern-the-eebo-tcp-hackfest/
Suggested Ways of Citing Digitized Early Modern Texts, Heather Froehlich at Folger Library:
About Early English Books – The Scanned Pages:
About Early English Books I, 1473-1640 (STC I, Pollard & Redgrave)
From the first book published in English through the age of Spenser
and Shakespeare, this incomparable microfilm collection contains nearly
all of the 26,500 titles listed in A.W. Pollard and G.R. Redgrave's
Short-Title Catalogue and its revised edition. Libraries possessing
this collection find they are able to fulfill the most exhaustive research
requirements of graduate scholars in the areas of English literature,
history, philosophy, linguistics, and the fine arts.
The collection comprehensively documents the magnificent English Renaissance
- an era that witnessed the rebirth of classical humanism, the broadening
of the known world, and the rapid spread of printing and education.
The writings of such revered authors as Spenser, Bacon, More, Erasmus,
and Shakespeare provide unique windows onto the landscape of English
history during this period. The examples from the collection listed
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 editions of such classics as Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
and Malory's Morte d'Arthur. Textual scholars are able to 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 light of lesser-known literature from the
Material for the Historian
The original, printed version of royal statutes and proclamations, military,
religious, legal, Parliamentary, and other public documents are reproduced
in the collection. And social historians gain insight into the lives
of the common people through almanacs and calendars, broadsides and
romances, plus popular pamphlets such as The Trail of Witchcraft,
showing the true and righte method of discovery (1616).
Research in Religion
Scholars will find a host of sermons, homilies, saints' lives, liturgies,
and the Book of Common Prayer (1549). The King James translation
of the Bible (1611) can be studied in relation to earlier English
translations, and Latin, Greek, and Welsh translations invite comparison
with the English version.
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
About Early English Books II, 1641-1700 (STC II, Wing)
Spanning the tumultuous years of the English Civil War, the Interregnum,
and the Restoration, this collection continues the mission of STC
I to preserve valuable research materials on microfilm. With both
STC I and STC II, libraries will have available for their
scholars an unparalleled center, essential for research libraries supporting
strong graduate studies programs.
While the notable features and purposes of this collection are the same
as those of STC I, STC II contains larger bodies of titles
in certain subject areas such as the arts, the sciences, popular culture,
and women's studies. And, the historical perspective of 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 research possibilities into trends in British ethos
Students of the arts can access critical discourses on art and literature,
- 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
For physical scientists, the collection includes books by Boyle, Newton,
and Galileo, as well as popular scientific tracts such as Nicholas Culpeper's
The English Physician (1652). And students of women's studies
find useful the editions of works by Aphra Behn, Anne Killigrew, and
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.
About the 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 historical times and set about methodically collecting copies of virtually
everything that was being published - from single broadsides to substantial
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. View a list of periodicals.
These items complement the titles held in the Wing collection of Early English Books (STCII), 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 precise 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 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 keep
it safe, 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
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
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;
- auction catalogs, including prints and drawings;
- mathematical, medical, and other scientific and practical treatises;
- and much more.
Status, What's online now?
As of September 2016, EEBO provides comprehensive coverage of:
- Early English Books I, 1475-1640 (Pollard & Redgrave, STC I), Units 1-91 (comprising reels 1-2428 of this microfilm collection).
- Early English Books II, 1641-1700 (Wing, STC II), Units 1-139 (comprising reels 1-3056 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 I (Unit 91) and Wing (Unit 139) launched in September 2016 – a total of 631 titles and 35,440 pages.
- STC units 91-94 and Wing Units 139-148 have been released on microfilm and are waiting to be scanned. Cataloging is complete through STC 93 and Wing 145 so a total of 2773 titles and 181,456 pages are in the pipeline to be available soon.
- Facsimile Document Images showing these titles will be added to EEBO as part of future updates of the service, along with the few outstanding items from Unit 2 of the Early English Books Tract Supplement collection.
Note that catalogue records are added to EEBO in advance of the facsimile Document Images to which they relate, meaning that a small proportion of records accessible in EEBO are not yet associated with images. Bibliographic information for more than 101687 (this number does not include duplicates) printed sources can be searched and retrieved via 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).
New MARC records, Images and Full text launched in September 2016
Bibliographic records loaded on EEBO in advance of the images (to be launched in 2017): Total number of records = 529
A full list of new MARC records is available.
New scanned image sets added for 631 records
A full list of new image sets added to EEBO is available.
TCP 2 files: TCP full text files added to 6490 EEBO records, and integrated with their associated images
- STC1 Unit 91: Scanned image sets for 149 records
- STC2 (WING UNIT 139): Scanned image sets for 482 records
We estimate that EEBO is approximately 92% complete and that the remaining titles will be added in future releases. This will include titles discovered from the ESTC that are not in Wing or STC but are printed in England in the Early Modern Period.
History of the Microfilm Project
UMI issued its first unit of Early English Books I (Pollard & Redgrave,
STC I) microfilm in 1938. As of 1997, the collection consisted of 64
units of microfilm. After a long hiatus, the Early English Books I microfilm
program reopened again with the release of Unit 65, which was the product of an eight-year effort to find and film rare printed texts at libraries around the world. ProQuest typically produces one unit of Early
English Books I material each year.
UMI began microfilming the items in the Early English Books II (Wing,
STC II) collection in 1957. As of June 2011, 135
units of Early English Books II microfilm have been released. ProQuest typically produces new units of Early English Books II microfilm at the rate of two a year.
It is estimated that it will take around 5 years to complete microfilming of
the works in Pollard and Redgrave's Short-Title Catalogue and Wing's
Short-Title Catalogue. This is due to the scarcity and dispersedness
of the remaining material. Currently, ProQuest is filming material
on four continents and managing relationships with over 125 contributing
libraries that hold works from the period 1473—1700.
New units of Early English Books I
and Early English Books II microfilm will be catalogued, digitised and added to Early
English Books Online.
About the dates of coverage in EEBO
The official dates of coverage for EEBO are 1473-1700, corresponding to the dates covered in the Pollard & Redgrave and Wing short title catalogues, and the Thomason Tract and Tract Supplement collections. However, there are a few hundred items in EEBO that were printed after 1700. Most of these are later reproductions or reprints of originals. Some are items that were erroneously dated and may have had their Wing numbers cancelled subsequent to being microfilmed. And some items overlap the centuries, such as A collection of several tracts and discourses written in the years 1677, to 1704 by Gilbert Burnet ... ; in three volumes, 1704. In addition, many of these items are one- or two-page broadsides and ballads that require more time to identify and scan for inclusion in EEBO, so because they fall outside of the project's parameters we will focus on finishing the materials up to 1700 first.
Authorized users of Cengage Gale's Eighteen Century Collections Online (ECCO) can now include ECCO records in their EEBO searches and link to the corresponding records in ECCO. This gives EEBO users the opportunity to discover additional texts relevant to their research among 136,000 texts published between 1701-1800. Library administrators can activate the cross search feature from the Administration Resources area in Information Resources.
About the Short-Title Catalogues, STC, Wing and ESTC
The terms STC (or STC I) and Wing (or STC II) are used in various ways in EEBO to refer to two seminal works of bibliographic scholarship that set out to define the printed record of the English-speaking world from the very beginnings of British printing in the late fifteenth century through to 1700.
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.
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 seventeenth 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 more 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').
The successor to STC and Wing is the invaluable 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 at http://estc.bl.uk. 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.
The Early Chronology of UMI and the Early English Books Microfilm Collections
The microfilm collections upon which EEBO is based were the brainchild of Ann Arbor publisher Eugene B. Power (1905-1993), the founder of University Microfilms (later University Microfilms International or UMI). 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.
The microfilm collections begun by Power are still growing. EEBO, the online version of Power's project, was first published in 1998. It was first made available via its current interface in 2003.
In September 2016, Dr David McInnis (Gerry Higgins Lecturer in Shakespeare Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne) published an article on the origins of famous phrases attributed to Shakespeare - To be or not to be ... original. This article received coverage on several media outlets, including