Jisc Historic Books: a powerful research tool
Jisc Historic Books brings together two previously separate collections, Early English Books Online (EEBO) and Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), and one previously unavailable collection (BL 19th century), enabling researchers to cross-search and download over 350,000 texts published between the 15th and 19th centuries in a single platform.
Explore potentially undiscovered historical or thematic relationships across these collections using conceptual searching for the first time, digging deeper into a wealth of research materials.
From researching the history of the book to linguistics, early printing techniques or eighteenth century witchcraft right through to Dickens, Hardy and the gothic novels of Shelley, researchers from a wide variety of subject areas will find this vast historical corpus invaluable.
Jisc Historic Books provides a single point of access to these collections through a simple, easy-to-use platform, with intuitive icons and clear colour coded tabs for each collection. You can inspect the digital page images, view and search the plain text versions of the page images (where available) as well as download individual pages as well as whole texts as PDFs.
Jisc Historic Books is part of the Jisc eCollections service, which also includes Jisc Journal Archives and Jisc MediaHub.
Find out about each of the three collections in Jisc Historic Books:
- British Library 19th Century Collection
- Eighteenth Century Collections Online
- Early English Books Online
Accessing Jisc Historic Books
British Library 19th Century Collection (BL)
Recently digitised versions of more than 65,000 out of copyright first editions from the 19th century, covering philosophy, history, poetry and literature. The collection extends to over 25 million pages of previously rare and inaccessible content, including the original typeface and illustrations for each title.
Works include such classics as A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Mansfield Park and Emma by Jane Austen, The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
These texts have been digitised through a partnership between the British Library and Microsoft and each title has searchable full text versions of the digitial page images. The searchable versions of the pages are classed as 'plain text' in Jisc Historic Books.
There are page images and plain text available for all titles in this collection. The plain text has been produced by digitally scanning the original pages using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software.
Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)
A digital collection of all the books published in Great Britain and its colonies during the eighteenth century, comprising some 33 million pages from more than 180,000 titles. The collection includes works in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Latin, Spanish and Welsh.
Eighteenth Century Collections Online contains a variety of printed materials including books, Bibles, sheet music, sermons and advertisements published from 1700–1799 and the content is comprised from seven subject areas:
- History and Geography
- Social Science
- Fine Arts, Music, Art & Architecture
- Medicine, Science and Technology
- Literature and Language
- Religion and Philosophy
- General Reference
ECCO Part II
Part II includes almost 50,000 titles and 7 million pages of new material uncovered by the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) since 2003, from the library holdings of institutions including the British Library, Bodleian, Cambridge University, the National Library of Scotland, Library of Congress, National Library of Ireland, and the University of Texas.
Part II covers the same subject areas as the original collection, with an emphasis on Literature, Social Science and Religion titles, and incorporates more than 900 works and editions by women authors. While the majority of titles are in English, works can also be found in French, German, Latin, Ancient Greek, Italian, and Welsh. Influential works can be found from authors such as Voltaire, John Milton, Sir William Blackstone and Captain James Cook and there are also 96 new editions of Shakespeare.
There are page images and plain text available for all titles in this collection. The plain text has been produced by digital scanning using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software.
Early English Books Online (EEBO)
Containing the first book printed in English by William Caxton, EEBO includes over 125,000 titles published in Britain and British North America, and works in English printed elsewhere, between 1473 and 1700 covering a wealth of early modern materials.
EEBO is comprised of titles listed in the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) I and II which are compiled from:
- Pollard & Redgrave's Short-Title Catalogue (1475–1640)
- Wing's Short-Title Catalogue (1641–1700)
- Thomason Tracts (1640–1661) collection
- Early English Books Tract Supplement
EEBO covers a wide range of diverse subject areas including english literature, history, philosophy, linguistics, theology, law, music, fine arts, education, mathematics and science. Including influential works such as Newton's Principia Mathematica and various works by Shakepeare making it a key early modern research resource.
Text Creation Partnership (TCP) and EEBO
All works included in the Jisc Historic Books EEBO collection have page images (digital fascimiles). These pages have been digitised by opening (two physical pages per image) from microfilms, which is why they are black and white, and provided by ProQuest. Currently, for around 25% of this collection, there are also searchable plain text transcriptions. These are manually transcribed versions of the page images, produced by the Text Creation Partnership (TCP). The text transcriptions for individual works can be accessed in Jisc Historic Books by selecting the ‘text’ link within the page viewer.
The full text available for the page images in the EEBO collection have been created by the EEBO-TCP. EEBO-TCP is a partnership between ProQuest and over 150 libraries to create searchable, TEI-compliant SGML/XML texts to support the page images for titles in the EEBO collection. The texts are created by manual transcription, rather than OCR which has been used for the ECCO and BL collections, as OCR would not be able to decipher the layout of these pre-1700 works. Further details on why manual transcriptions are necessary for EEBO can be found on the EEBO-TCP website.
EEBO-TCP Phase I began in 1999 as a collaboration between ProQuest, the University of Michigan and Oxford University and created searchable texts for 25,000 titles. This phase is complete and the works are available within Jisc Historic Books.
EEBO-TCP Phase II was announced in 2008 and aims to create searchable text for the remaining 44,000 unique monographs in the EEBO collection. Jisc Historic Books will be adding these text updates as and when they are made available.
Further details on EEBO-TCP can be found on their website.
Jisc Historic Books is available via subscription to UK HE and FE institutions and Research Councils who are full Jisc Collections members.
Previously there was a single subscription for the Jisc eCollections service which provided access to all three platforms in the service (Jisc Journal Archives, Jisc Historic Books and Jisc MediaHub). For subscriptions from 1 August 2013 there are now more flexible options available which vary for HE and FE institutions.
For any enquiries about subscription options please contact the Jisc Collections helpdesk at: firstname.lastname@example.org
UK Further Education (FE)
From 1 August 2013 Jisc MediaHub is free to subscribe to so there is no longer a Jisc eCollections (Jisc MediaHub, JIsc Historic Books and Jisc Journal Archives) subscription option for FE institutions. To subscribe to Jisc Historic Books the following package is available:
This provides access to both Jisc Historic Books and Jisc Journal Archives. It is not possible to subscribe to Jisc Historic Books on its own.
UK Higher Education (HE) and Research Councils
There are two new options available for HE institutions and Research Councils for subscriptions from 1 August 2013 alongside the existing Jisc eCollections subscription option:
- Jisc eCollections for HE (includes access to Jisc Historic Books, Jisc Journal Archives and Jisc MediaHub)
- Jisc MediaHub and Jisc Journal Archives for HE 2013-2014
- Jisc Historic Books and Jisc Journal Archives for HE 2013-2014
These options provide access to Jisc Historic Books along with either Jisc Journal Archives or Jisc MediaHub or both. It is not possible to subscribe to Jisc Historic Books on its own.
Free 30 day trial
UK HE and FE institutions and Research Councils who are full members of Jisc Collections and do not currently subscribe to Jisc Historic Books can request a free 30 day trial.
A librarian at the institution can do this by contacting the Jisc Collections helpdesk at: email@example.com or logging in to their account on the Jisc Collections website.
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