Digital Humanities Databases and Resources

(compiled by John Yamamoto-Wilson)

This list is far from exhaustive, but it gives some idea of what’s available.

Metadata and General Early Modern Digital Agendas:

Folger Institute projects. Some of them are listed below, but here is a complete list (not all early modern)

Early Modern Hub: This is a one-person show by Sharon Howard, maintaining a list of links to open access online resources for early modernists.

Google Books: Don’t knock it! There is a surprising amount of early modern literature available on full view (along with a frustrating amount that does not even offer a preview). I just searched for a Latin text (Otto Brunfels’ Onomasticon medicinae, 1543) and found three different copies, all with full view!

Internet Archive: People often seem to overlook this, but it has a huge amount of material. For texts, it’s best on 19th-century material, but there’s a lot of 19th-century scholarship on the early modern period that’s sinking into oblivion, and there are some real gems here, along with later editions of early modern material, which can be very revealing in themselves.

National Archives: The starting point for almost anything to do with civic life. This site will tell you where to find the records for who was in the Gatehouse prison in the 1650s, or the names of Members of Parliament in Cornwall at the beginning of the 17th century, etc., etc.

University of Oxford Text Archive (OTA): Comprehensive links to resources, some of which are unrestricted, but many require a log-in. 

Early Modern Resources (Manuscripts and Printed Texts)

a) General Resources

British Literary Manuscripts Online, Medieval and Renaissance: A Gale resource, so log-in is required. Even so, adroit use of the portal can at least identify and locate material. Free trial available.

Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts 1450–1700 (CELM): Probably the database of first choice for locating manuscripts. Detailed catalogue entries for 37,000+ manuscripts.

Corpus Query Processor (CQP): A University of Lancaster initiative. For some reason the link doesn’t work; search on Google for Lancaster Corpus Query Processor. Free log-in on request to gain limited access. The best part of this is for early modernists is the Early English Books Online V2 and V3, but these can’t be accessed with a regular log-in; one has to be attached to a participating institution (there aren’t any in Japan).

If one can gain access, one can do such things as analyze the EEBO corpus according to genre. OK, so that’s the bad news. The good news is that a regular log-in gives one access to the Corpus of English Dialogues (qv), the Lancaster Newsbooks Corpus (which only covers part of 1654 so far, but is still well worthwhile) and the Shakespeare First Folio, along with other resources not related to the early modern period.

EEBO: Chadwyck Healey portal for Early English Books Online. Log-in needed.

EEBO TCP: University of Michigan portal for the Text Creation Partnership database. No log-in needed for text-searchable Phase 1 texts. Log-in needed for Phase 2 texts and PDF click-through. 

ESTC: The English Short-Title Catalogue. No log-in required. Private Libraries in Renaissance England (PLRE): http://plre.folger.edu/ An ongoing Folger project, giving an indispensable insight into patterns of early modern book ownership. No log-in required.

b) Resources for Specific Genres/Topic Areas
Broadside Ballads Online: A Bodleian Library resource. Comprehensive catalogue of broadsheets, together with PDF files.

Corpus of English Dialogues 1560-1760 (CED): An Oxford Text Archive project. A 1.2-million-word database, about 500,000 of which are authentic dialogue, taken from trial proceedings and witness depositions, and some 700,000 are constructed dialogue, taken from drama and other prose sources. A free log-in can be obtained via the Lancaster Corpus Query Processor (qv), or one can apply directly to Oxford Text Archive to download the database.

Database of Early English Playbooks (DEEP): Built up from ESTC, EEBO and other sources. Basically a detailed catalogue. No log-in required.

Digital Quaker Collection (DQC):  Searchable database of 17th- & 18th-century Quaker texts. Early Modern Letters Online: http://emlo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/ This project (quite advanced but still in progress) does for letters what ESTC does for printed texts. It is basically a detailed catalogue, often with an abstract of the contents, but not full transcripts.

English Handwriting 1500-1700: A cornucopia of resources! An essential tool for anyone working with manuscript material. No log-in required.

The Full English (Folk Songs): Transcripts of over 44,000 folk songs, searchable by title and first line (as well as by performer, etc.). Full-text PDFs of manuscripts and printed songs, some with scores, others plain text. Most of the material postdates the early modern period as such, but much of it may go back to early modern roots. Freely available (no log-in).

Hooke’s Books: A searchable transcription of the books in Robert Hooke’s library.

Lost Plays Database: Searchable database of information relating to plays that are no longer extant. 

Post-Reformation Digital Library: Theology and philosophy, full-text; based on EEBO.

Records of Early English Drama (REED):  Historical documents relating to the theatre. Also has a fine set of links.

Spenser’s Letters: Transcripts of diplomatic and other papers relating to Spenser’s years in Ireland. For other related Spencer links go here.

William Corbett’s Bookshop: A project building on the ESTC and EEBO TCP databases and showing the contents of a seventeenth-century bookshop based on a 1626 inventory of its stock. The link doesn’t seem to work for some reason, but it turns up easily enough in a Google keyword search. No log-in required.

Mixed/Languages other than English

Ancient Greece and Rome

Perseus Digital Library: Greek & Latin. Mainly useful for Greek and Latin texts, but also has Arabic, German, Italian and other material.

Perseus Word Study Tool:  Greek & Latin. Part of previous. Invaluable guide to Greek and Latin words (also Arabic and Old Norse), with full explanations of inflected forms, copious examples, etc. 

France
FranceBibliothèques Virtuelles Humanistes (CSR [Centre d'études Supérieures de la Renaissance]):  French.

Germany
Mediaevum.de: German. Comprehensive links for online resources.

Wörterbücher: German. Great for translating Middle High German into modern German. 

Italy
Biblioteca Virtuale Online (Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento · SIGNUM):  Italian. Digitized texts.

Spain
Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes:  Spanish. Includes a large collection of early modern material.

Switzerland
Digitized Rare Books from Swiss Libraries

Various
Annotated Books Online: Annotated copies of early modern books in Latin, Arabic, Dutch, English, etc. 94 books scanned so far. Free registration.

Resources in Fields other than Literature

Art
Copyrighthub:  Tracking down images and artwork. This often succeeds where Google Images fails. 

Google Images: The URL search is particularly useful for tracking down the original source of images posted on the web.

Web Gallery of Art: Extensive searchable database, particularly good on Renaissance art, with a browsable list of painters. Open access.

History
British History Online: Primary and secondary sources mainly for the period 1300-1800.

London before the Great Fire (animated 3D reconstruction):  A very atmospheric reconstruction. 

Medicine
Early Modern Practitioners:  Searchable database of doctors and medicine.

Music
Inventories & Databases for Early Music Sources

Medieval and Renaissance Music Resources

Printing
Atlas of Early Printing: A bit shaky in its performance, but gives a very clear idea of the spread of printing during the 15th century.

Religion
Calvinism Resources Database

Who were the Nuns?  Convent records.

Forthcoming Projects

From Open Access to Open and Accessible:  A planned project working on ways of familiarizing academics with the open-access TCP and incorporating its use in the classroom. Quite pertinent to what we’re doing in these workshops, though its central aim is to create a Joe-public-friendly portal. 

The Posthumous HAK: Purchas his Pilgrimes (1625) and the East India Company. Another project still in the pipeline. The main aim is to create interactive maps based on Purchas.

Sonifying Drama: A forthcoming project drawing on the TCP database to use non-speech audio to conceptualize early modern drama. To be honest, I don’t really know what that means!

Techie Stuff

Reference Guide for the British National Corpus: The British National Corpus is a database of spoken and written modern English, so it is not directly relevant to us. However, the principles on which it is organized underlie other databases. Not for beginners! 

Text Encoding Initiative:  This is another specialized site, for people who are actively working on database construction. Useful stuff, but not for beginners!

Zoho drag and drop:  Possibly the easiest way to get started on creating databases. Two-week free trial.

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