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Library Announces Early English Books Online

Thanks very much to a supportive group of CAS faculty, and the visionary funding for the acquisition by Dean Peter Starr of CAS and Provost Scott Bass, the library is pleased to bring a very important new resource to campus. The Early English Books Online (EEBO) database has just been added to the library website. In EEBO, you can see the first book printed in English and more than 100,000 others that are available as digital facsimiles. Since the library had already purchased the Eighteenth Century Collections Online database, the addition of EEBO means that the AU community now has access to almost all known books printed in English between 1473 and 1800, an extensive array of resources. Researchers in history and literature will probably be the heaviest users of the new EEBO, but the database is potentially useful to researchers in other disciplines, such as music, religion, philosophy, politics, women’s studies, mathematics, and science. North America is represented in the new database since EEBO is the most complete record of all surviving English language texts from three centuries.

Even non-historians will find EEBO fascinating. For instance, a search on the word year will automatically pick up yeare or even yeer. Your author, title, or subject keyword searches will automatically include the variant spellings common in early written English. To see some of the marvelous books with their interesting typefaces and quaint illustrations, you can access EEBO through the alphabetical list of databases on the library website. All of the EEBO books plus a special pamphlet collection relating to the English Civil War are also included in the ALADIN Catalog where they can be retrieved through keyword, title, and author searches. Search results in the EEBO database can be sorted chronologically, and a variety of displays are available. You can even specify that you want to focus on the often fanciful images that appear in these early books.

The following excerpts are just a few examples of what EEBO has to offer:

Descriptions and illustrations of many creatures including the “Sea-monster headed like a Beare,” with a “voice like a mans voice,” captured and presented to a Roman pope.
The workes of that famous chirurgion Ambrose Pare published in 1634.

A source used by a famous playwright for a famous play:

“It fortuned as Makbeth and Banquho iournied towards Fores, where the king then laie, they went sporting by the waie togither without other companie, saue onelie themselues, passing thorough the woods and fields, when suddenlie in the middest of a laund, there met them thrée women in strange and wild apparell, resembling creatures of elder world, whome when they attentiuelie beheld, woondering much at the sight, the first of them spake and said; All haile Makbeth, thane of Glammis (for he had latelie entered into that dignitie and office by the death of his father Sinell.) The second of them said; Haile Makbeth thane of Cawder. But the third said; All haile Makbeth that héereafter shalt he king of Scotland.”

—Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles published in 1586.

On the new European re-discovery of American continents:

"The decades of the newe worlde or west India conteynyng the nauigations and conquestes of the Spanyardes, with the particular description of the moste ryche and large landes and ilandes lately founde in the west ocean perteynyng to the inheritaunce of the kinges of Spayne."

De orbe novo by Peter Martyr of Angleria, and translated into Englysshe by Rycharde Eden. published in 1555.