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What is Early English Books Online?

From the first book published in English through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare, this incomparable collection now contains more than 125,000 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. Libraries possessing this collection find they are able to fulfill the most exhaustive research requirements of graduate scholars - from their desktop - in many subject areas: including English literature, history, philosophy, linguistics, theology, music, fine arts, education, mathematics, and science.

Frequently Asked Questions

About EEBO and the Text Creation Partnership

Creation of searchable full text
To accompany the citations and page images, a separate initiative, the Text Creation Partnership (TCP), is in the process of creating SGML coding for the full text of thousands of EEBO works, so users can search the full ASCII text of the documents and view both the text and the corresponding original page images. Through their funding, research libraries can help to support - and eventually own - a richly encoded archive that is equally valuable to undergraduates writing papers on witchcraft and faculty members tracing the course of a word or concept across three centuries of English literature.

Joint sponsorship, joint ownership


The Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership began in 1999 as an innovative collaboration between ProQuest LLC, the University of Michigan, and Oxford University to convert 25,000 books from EEBO into fully-searchable, TEI-compliant SGML/XML texts. The first phase of the partnership is now complete, and more than 25,000 keyed and encoded texts are now fully searchable within EEBO as well as from custom interfaces designed by participating institutions.


In March of 2008, the TCP announced its intention to initiate a second phase of EEBO-TCP production, with the aim of converting the remaining 44,000 unique monographs in the EEBO collection. Texts from EEBO-TCP Phase II are now accessible via EEBO in participating institutions.

Find out if your institution is a member of the Text Creation Partnership.

Terms of partnership
Libraries join the Text Creation Partnership by investing an annual contribution over the course of five years, and ProQuest LLC matches a portion of each partner's contribution. Partners will help to set guidelines for selecting which texts are encoded, as well as standards for conversion. The text archive will be available to all members for local loading, customization, and development. The partnership will also support remote access for institutions that are still in the process of developing local systems.

Other benefits for the research community
The Text Creation Partnership also:

  • Encourages an international dialogue on the appropriate extent and standards for retrospective conversion
  • Helps major research libraries develop the technology for large-scale conversions and manage the resulting files
  • Provides a model for partnerships between publishers and libraries to serve a common goal: meeting the research needs of end users.

The Text Creation Partnership will seek extensive input from the library community on these and other issues throughout the course of the project.

To Learn More
Please visit the Text Creation Partnership web site at http://www.lib.umich.edu/tcp/.

A different full text search experience
Members of institutions that belong to the TCP can access the TCP collection via an interface provided by the University of Michigan, where the data is prepared, checked, and loaded before it is delivered to ProQuest. To search and view the collection using the University of Michigan interface, please visit the TCP web site at http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebogroup/.

The University of Oxford provides TCP partner institutions with access to the TCP collection via a search interface available at http://eebo.odl.ox.ac.uk/e/eebo.

Text Creation Partnership Screenshot


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 era.

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 and philosophy.

Students of the arts can access critical discourses on art and literature, such as:

  • 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 (1696)

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 Margaret Cavendish.

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

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 dissertations.

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 volume.

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.

The complete Tract Supplement collection will be available in EEBO at the end of 2010.

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;
  • almanacs;
  • auction catalogs, including prints and drawings;
  • mathematical, medical, and other scientific and practical treatises;
  • and much more.

Image Availability

What's online now?

As of June 2011, EEBO provides comprehensive coverage of:

  • Early English Books I, 1475-1640 (Pollard & Redgrave, STC I), Units 1-80 (comprising reels 1-2288 of this microfilm collection)
  • Early English Books II, 1641-1700 (Wing, STC II), Units 1-132 (comprising reels 1-2960 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.

The remaining titles from STC I (Units 81-87) and Wing (Units 133-135) are currently in the process of being catalogued and scanned. 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 128,000 printed sources can be searched and retrieved via EEBO at the present time, comprising the catalogue records for STC I Units 1-86, Wing Units 1-132, and for the whole of the Thomason Tracts and Tract Supplement collections.

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).

Status 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. As of June 2011, 87 units of Early English Books I microfilm have been issued.

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.

Sources and Selected Further Reading

Further information about the inclusion policies and history of STC and Wing can be found in their respective prefaces and introductions.

Peter W. M. Blayney, ‘The Numbers Game: Appraising the Revised STC’, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 88 (1994), 353-407, in Periodicals Archive Online [http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&res_dat=xri:pao:&rft_dat=xri:pao:article:k026-1994-088-00-000030:1 (pao.chadwyck.co.uk), accessed 25 Nov 2008] or [http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&res_dat=xri:pao-us:&rft_dat=xri:pao:article:k026-1994-088-00-000030:1 (pao.chadwyck.com), accessed 25 Nov 2008]

W. W. Greg, ‘Pollard, Alfred William (1859-1944)’, rev. H. R. Woudhuysen, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/35557, accessed 25 Nov 2008]

A. W. Pollard, comp., A short-title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland and of English books printed abroad, 1475-1640 (London: Bibliographical Society, 1926)

Donald Wing, Short-title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British America, and of English books printed in other countries, 1641-1700 (New York: Index Society, 1945-1951)

Donald G. Wing, ‘The Making of the “Short-Title Catalogue, 1641-1700”’, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 45 (1951), 59-69, in Periodicals Archive Online [http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&res_dat=xri:pao:&rft_dat=xri:pao:article:k026-1951-045-00-000013:1 (pao.chadwyck.co.uk), accessed 25 Nov 2008] or [http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&res_dat=xri:pao-us:&rft_dat=xri:pao:article:k026-1951-045-00-000013:1 (pao.chadwyck.com), accessed 25 Nov 2008]

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.