Primary Texts


The Library provides networked access to many more full-text, primary source databases than can be listed here. Others may be located through the Library Catalog and Databases, which contains an alphabetical list of online resources related to Linguistics, Language and Literature. NOTE: Also check the Periodical Indexes & Databases tab (above) for resources covering periodical articles from the 19th century and earlier.

All Periods

British History Online.
Produced by the Institute of Historical Research, University of London : History of Parliament Trust, British History Online is the digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.
British Periodicals
Offering searchable full text and facsimile page images for nearly 500 British periodicals published from the 17th through the early 20th centuries. Topics covered include literature, philosophy, history, science, the fine arts and the social sciences.  The complete title list and issue coverage is available on an Excel spreadsheet.
Columbia Granger’s world of poetry: the electronic Granger’s
Indexes poetry in published anthologies. Contains full text of anthologized poems in the public domain, poetry excerpts from copyrighted works, and citations providing poem title, author, publisher, subject(s), and a list of anthologies in which the selected poem appears. 15,000 authors are represented with references to 558 separate anthologies (1992 release). Also contains audio readings of canonical works, and allows side-by-side comparison of texts.
Literature Online.
A full-text collection of poetry, drama, and prose with complementary references sources. Primary texts include English poetry from 600 to the present; American and African-American poetry from 1603 to the present; English drama; English prose; articles, monographs and dissertations from the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature; full-text articles from literary journals; and biographical information on widely studied authors. Subsumed in the database are the contents of several Chadwyck-Healey CD-ROM products, including: The Bible in English; Database of African-American Poetry, 1760-1900; Database of Twentieth Century African American Poetry; Editions and Adaptations of Shakespeare; and English Poetry.

Old English

Dictionary of Old English, Old English Corpus.
This edition includes over 3,000 different texts and was constructed from a version supplied by the Dictionary of Old English Project in 1998.

Middle English

TEAMS Middle English Texts
"The TEAMS Middle English Texts are published for TEAMS (The Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages) in association with the University of Rochester by Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan... The focus is upon literature adjacent to that normally in print, which teachers need in compiling the syllabi they wish to teach. The editions maintain the linguistic integrity of the original works but within the parameters of modern reading conventions.[web site]"

Early Modern

Brown University Women Writers Project
"The mission of the Brown University Women Writers Project is to create, develop, and make accessible a state-of-the-art electronic textbase of women's writing in English before 1830. The WWP textbase is intended to support a wide range of activities, including new research on texts, information technology, and cultural history; publications and other textbase products; and innovative approaches to teaching."--Title screen
Editions and adaptations of Shakespeare. On CD-ROM: Olin Reference Electronic Text Center PR2759 C434x 1995
"The complete text of eleven major editions of Shakespeare’s works from the First Folio to the Cambridge edition of 1863-6, twenty four separate contemporary printings of individual plays, selected apocrypha and related works and more than 100 adaptations, sequels, and burlesques from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries."
Early English Books Online (EEBO)
From the first book printed in English by William Caxton, through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare and the tumult of the English Civil War, Early English Books Online) contains over 125,000 titles listed in Pollard & Redgrave's Short-Title Catalogue (1475 - 1640), Wing's Short-Title Catalogue (1641-1700), and the Thomason Tracts (1640-1661)NOTE: The addition of searchable full-text for material in EEBO is an ongoing project. Though bibliographic information is provided for all titles, the searchable full-text may not be. If you fail to retrieve what you need in EEBO, try searching the University of Michigan's Text Creation Partnership (TCP) database at The TCP site contains the searchable full text of books whose full-text has been digitized, but not yet added to EEBO.
Eighteenth Century Collections Online. (ECCO)
A comprehensive digital edition of The Eighteenth Century microfilm set, which has aimed to include every significant English-language and foreign-language title printed in the United Kingdom, along with thousands of important works from the Americas, between 1701 and 1800. Consists of books, pamphlets, broadsides, ephemera.
Electronic Enlightenment
A database of 17th, 18th, and 19th century letters distributed by Oxford University Press, consisting of almost 60,000 interconnected letters in 11 languages from almost 7,000 correspondents across Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Includes textual and scholarly annotations.
English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA) Univ. of California, Santa Barbara.
"EBBA began in 2003 with the archiving of the over 1,800 ballads in the five volume Pepys Collection at Magdalene College, Cambridge. We are currently completing the archiving of the second largest such collection of some 1,500 ballads: the Roxburghe Collection at the British Library. We are also archiving the Euing Collection of 420 black-letter broadside ballads at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and some 600 ballads that are loose or from various collections, including the Britwell, Bindley, and Bridgewater, at the Huntington Library, Pasadena. Our ultimate goal is to archive all surviving black-letter broadside ballads from England’s heyday of the printed ballad in the seventeenth century." (website)
Touchstone Database (University of Birmingham)
"The Touchstone Database provides a single point of access to descriptions of significant UK Shakespeare collections. The information offers a broad indication of the collections held - the database is not an itemised record of each library's printed book holdings. There are currently 5 repositories contributing to the database: the Shakespeare Institute Library, the Shakespeare Centre, Library, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office, Birmingham Central Library, and the Globe Theatre Library and Archive."

19th Century

Discovering Literature: Romantics and Victorians
"Showcases some of the [British] Library's most treasured literary collection items, including the manuscripts of William Blake, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Jane Austen, George Eliot and Charlotte Brontë. In addition, the site includes a rich range of contextual material, such as newspapers, letters, diaries, photographs, pamphlets, broadsides, playbills and other forms of ephemera." Also "features over 8,000 pages of collection items and explores more than 20 authors through 165 newly-commissioned articles, 25 short documentary films, and 30 lesson plans."
Cornell Wordsworth Collection.
Offers the full text of a majority of the English language books in the Cornell collection of nearly comprehensive book holdings on Wordsworth, Coleridge, and related authors. The collection also includes letters, manuscripts, broadsides, pictures, documents, and objects by, to, belonging to, or about Wordsworth and his family. The collection preserves all editions of his published works, along with many books that once belonged to Wordsworth’s own library. The collection also features a strong concentration of works about the Lake District.
Irish Women Poets of the Romantic Period
Includes more than 80 volumes of poetry by approximately 50 Irish women writing between 1768 and 1842. Compiled and edited by Stephen Behrendt of the University of Nebraska, the database also offers numerous biographical and critical essays prepared by leading scholars specifically for the project. New content is added to the collection on a regular basis. It currently contains over 9,000 pages of poetry.
Romanticism: Life, Literature & Landscape
"Presenting the manuscript collections of the Wordsworth Trust, this digital collection offers students and researchers of the Romantic period unique access to the working notebooks, verse manuscripts and correspondence of William Wordsworth and his fellow writers, including Dorothy Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey and Robert Southey. Includes fine art pieces by J.M.W. Turner, John Constable and Benjamin Robert Haydon. All of the documents are digitised in colour and include: verse manuscripts, printed manuscripts, prose manuscripts, printed verse, correspondence, diaries, travel journals, autograph albums, guide books, fine art and maps." (publisher)" (publisher)
Scottish Women Poets of the Romantic Period Alexander Street Press.
"Contains 60 volumes of Romantic Poetry, extensive contemporary critical reviews, as well as material specially written for this database by leading scholars." - website
Victorian Popular Culture
Consists of four components: Spiritualism, Sensation and Magic; Circuses, Sideshows and Freaks; Music Hall, Theatre and Popular Entertainment; and Moving pictures, optical entertainments & the advent of cinema. Includes full-text, full-color reproductions of books, ephemera, handbills, pamphlets, photos, posters, programs, scripts, and other types of materials. Coverage is most extensive for Great Britain; but there is also a fair range of materials for the U.S.A.
Victorian Women Writers Project Indiana University.
"The goal of the Victorian Women Writers Project is to produce highly accurate transcriptions of works by British women writers of the 19th century, encoded using the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML. The works...include anthologies, novels, political pamphlets, religious tracts, children's books, and volumes of poetry and verse drama." - website
Rossetti Archive
"The Complete Writings and Pictures of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Hypermedia Archive." Provides access to all of DGR's pictorial and textual works and to a large contextual corpus of materials, most drawn from the period when DGR's work first appeared and established its reputation (approximately 1848-1920), but some stretching back to the 14th-century sources of his Italian translations.
William Blake Archive
"The Archive now contains fully searchable and scalable electronic editions of many copies of all of Blake's 19 illuminated works in the context of full, up-to-date bibliographic information about each image, scrupulous "diplomatic" transcriptions of all texts, detailed descriptions of all images, extensive bibliographies, a searchable electronic version of the standard printed edition, and other essential scholarly information, plus a steadily growing representation of Blake's works in other artistic media." (from site)
The Yellow Nineties Online
"An open-access electronic resource for the study of avant-garde aesthetic periodicalsof the British fin de siècle... [e.g., The Yellow Book, The Pagan Review]. Contextual study of these magazines is enhanced by a searchable archive of 1890s reviews and advertisements, as well as by peer-reviewed biographies of contributors and associates written by international experts in the field

Modern and Contemporary

Caribbean Literature
Caribbean Literature is a searchable collection of poetry and fiction produced in the region during the 19th and 20th centuries. Among the titles selected are numerous rare and hard-to-find works written in English, French, Spanish, Dutch, and various Creole languages.Caribbean Literature is a constantly growing collection that will bring together 100,000 pages of poetry and fiction by hundreds of authors. The published volumes, manuscripts, and archival materials targeted for inclusion in this collection will be presented in their original languages. Among the authors on the project bibliography are Wilson Harris, E.K. Brathwaite, George Lamming, Kwane Dawes, Lorna Goodison, Jean Rhys, Grace Nichols, Earl Lovelace, Samuel Selvon, V.S. Naipaul, Derek Walcott, Saint-John Perse, René Depestre, Maryse Condé, Aimé Césaire, Léon-Gontran Damas, Edgar Cairo, Guillermo Rosario, Cola Debrot, Ras Changa, Elis Juliana, Alejo Carpentier, Luis Lloréns Torres, Luis Palés Matos, Dulce María Loynaz, José Martí, Eugenio Florit, José Lezama Lima, Juan Bosch, and Salomé Ureña de Henríquez.
Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950-1975.
This resource contains digitizations of popular culture collections from the U.S. and U.K. between 1950 to 1975. These original archival materials are from various libraries and archives. Topics include student protests, civil rights, consumerism, and the Vietnam War. The collection includes pamphlets, letters, government files, eye witness accounts, underground magazines, visual and video materials and ephemera and memorabilia. Part II contains additional material, such as music, press kits, mail order catalogues, advertising proofs, additional photos from the Mirrorpix archives, and documents on student unrest and the Troubles in Northern Ireland from the National Archives.

Digital Book Archives

Early Imprints

For more information on pre-1800 primary sources, see the guide Locating Pre-1800 Imprints, British & American

For medieval manuscripts, also see the Library's guide to medieval manuscript resources.

Rare Books & Mss.

That book you're reading doesn't end with the last page. It may have a long and fascinating history. The Library's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (RMC) includes 400,000 printed volumes, more than 70 million manuscripts, and another million photographs, paintings, prints, and other visual media that may be a part of that history. Deepen your appreciation of the text and take your research to the next level -- find out what RMC has to offer.