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History 230: The Roots of English Society & Politics: EEBO

This course guide is intended for students enrolled in Prof. Katherine Allen Smith's course. It provides links to relevant resources and suggests assignment-specific research strategies.

What is Early English Books Online (EEBO)?

EEBO - Early English Books online - logo
Early English Books Online (EEBO) contains digital page images of virtually every work printed in the English language as well as works printed in Great Britain and its dependencies from 1473-1700 in any language.

  • EEBO consists of facsimile images  together with rich descriptive bibliographic metadata containing Library of Congress Subject Headings and copious bibliographic references.
  • The collection Includes works by major authors such as Shakespeare, Malory, Spenser, Bacon, More, Erasmus, Boyle, Newton and Galileo together with a host of less frequently studied writers.
  • The collection includes a wide array of different kinds of historical documents, from Bibles, prayer books, royal statutes, proclamations, and military, religious and other public documents, through to almanacs, musical exercises, calendars, broadsides, periodicals and newsbooks, pamphlets and proclamations.

Recommended EEBO Titles (in chronological order)

Prof. Smith has identified and recommends that you choose one of the following sources:

The noble tryumphaunt coronacyon of quene Anne wyfe vnto the moost noble kynge Henry the .viij.  London: Wynkyn de Worde, 1533.  Account of the coronation of Anne Boleyn.
Parr, Catharine. The lamentacion of a synner, made by the moste vertuous Lady quene Caterine.
London: Edward Whitchurche, 1548.  Spiritual autobiography of Henry VIII’s last queen. This is a
longer one, so you might focus on one part of the text.
A rehearsall both straung and true, of hainous and horrible actes committed by Elizabeth Stile
alias Rockingham, Mother Dutten, Mother Deuell, Mother Margaret, fower notorious witches
London: J. Kingston, 1579. Account of the “Windsor Witches” of Abingdon.
Norton, Thomas. A declaration of the fauourable dealing of her Maiesties commissioners appointed
 for the examination of certain traitours and of tortures
... London: Christopher Barker, 1583.
Justification of the use of torture as a means of safeguarding the Elizabethan state.
Barrough, Philip. The method of phisick. London: Thomas Vautroullier, 1583. A bestselling medical handbook.
A Discouerie of the treasons practised and attempted against the Queenes Maiestie and the realme, by Francis Throckmorton. London: C. Barker, 1584.  Account of the Throckmorton plot to overthrow Elizabeth.
A true copie of the proclamation lately published by the Queenes Maiestie, vnder the great seale of
England, for the declaring of the sentence, lately giuen against the Queene of Scottes
. London:
Christopher Barker, 1586. Official justification for the execution of Mary Stuart.
Orders appointed to be executed in the cittie of London, for setting roges and idle persons to worke,
and for releefe of the poore
. London: Hugh Singleton, 1587. Elizabethan injunctions governing begging and vagabondage.
Orders, set dovvne by the Duke of Medina, Lord general of the Kings fleet, to be obserued in the
voyage toward England.
London: Thomas Orwin, 1588. English translation of the Spanish plan and justification for the Armada.
A declaration of the Queenes Maiesties will and commaundement…against the excesse of apparell.
London: Christopher Barker, 1588. A compendium of Tudor sumptuary laws.
Hortop, Job. The Rare Trauailes of Job Hortop, an Englishman. London: William Wright, 1591.
Narrative of an Englishman shipwrecked off the African coast and made a Spanish galley-slave.
Raleigh, Walter. The sea-mans triumph. London: R. Bourne, 1592. Account of the capture of the Spanish galleon Madre de Dios, the most famous prize-ship of the day.
Stubbes, Phillip. A christal glasse for christian women. London: T. Orwin, 1592. Biography of London widow Katherine Stubbs, presented as the ideal woman; one of the bestselling pamplets of the century.
Chute, Anthony. Tabacco. London: William Barlow, 1595. Promotion of the supposed benefits of the newly-discovered tabacco.
Brereton, John. A briefe and true relation of the discouerie of the north parte of Virginia. London:
George Bishop, 1602. First English account of what would become New England, by the navigator of the Gosnold expedition.

Askew, Anne.  The lattre examinacyon of Anne Askewe latelye martyred in Smythfelde, by the wycked Synagoge of Antichrist, with the Elucydacyon of Iohan Bale. Wesel: Printed by D. van der Straten, 1547.

EEBO: Basic Search Tips

Your terms entered into EEBO will be searched in all fields including historical and linguistic variants. Multiple terms within search boxes are treated as a phrase, unless separated with a Boolean AND, OR or proximity operator.

1. Variant Spellings and Variant Forms

EEBO will automatically retrieve all spelling variants for all the word(s) you have entered; if you do not wish to include variant spellings in your search results, simply untick the Search using variant spellings check box. If you wish to include only certain variants, entering a word in the relevant search field and clicking the Check for variants link will take you to a page where you can specify more precisely the particular variants you wish to retrieve.

3. Search Fields


Enter the word or words you wish to search for into the Keyword(s) box; your terms will be searched in all fields.

Limit to

All items: all records available in EEBO will be searched. The total number of records is indicated in parentheses.

Items with images: searches for your term(s) within records only for items that have document images available to be read on screen or downloaded in PDF format. The total number of items that have had images scanned to date is indicated in parentheses. New images are added to EEBO on a regular basis.

Author Keywords

Search for keywords that appear in the author field. In addition to author names this can include occupation, title, etc. Use the Select from a list link to browse the author index and select appropriate terms.

Title Keywords

Search for keywords that appear in the title field. Use the Select from a list link to browse the title index and select appropriate terms.

Subject Keywords

Search for keywords that appear in the subject field. Use the Select from a list link to browse the subject index and select appropriate term

Limit by Date

Narrow your search by date in two ways. Search on a range of years or search within a single year by entering the same year in both date boxes.

Note: Offical dates of coverage in EEBO are 1473 - 1700. However, there are a few hundred items printed after 1700. Most of these are later reproductions or reprints of originals.

4. Sort Results and Display (Organize Your search results)

You can choose the order of your results will display: Alphabetically by author, Earliest publication first, Latest publication first, or Alphabetically by title. 

5. Durable URL

Click to create a durable URL that you can copy and use later to revisit this same page and user as a short-cut. Access to the durable URL is based on authentication into your organization's EEBO account.

EEBO & the English Short Title Catalogue

The English Short Title Catalogue, when used in conjunction with EEBO, can let you learn more about printers, translators, authors, and editions.

Here's one example:

Suppose you are intrigued by the following text that you've discovered in EEBO:

A maruelous hystory intitulede, beware the cat Conteyning diuers wounderfull and incredible matters. Very pleasant and mery to read. , Imprinted at London : In Fleetestrete at the signe of the Faulcon by Wylliam Gryffith: and are to be sold at his shop in S. Dunstons Church-yarde, Anno. 1570.

You look up this work in the English Short Title Catalogue:  full record (see partial image below)

An author link will show you what else this individual has written.  This can be very useful especially with very common names and can help you better identify the author.

A uniform title link will show you other editions of this same work, and also any works that were written in response to this work!

The publisher/year link will show you how many and what kinds of other works this same printer published.



Resources for Context

These reference resources, used along with the English Short Title Catalogue, will help you contextualize the primary source you selected from EEBO.

Undertaking Additional Research

For research beyond what's available in subject encyclopedias, here are a few good strategies to use:

  1. Search Primo for books that are listed in the bibliographies of encyclopedia entries. 
  2. Search JSTOR for scholarly articles  [JSTOR is a convenient, full-text database, but it doesn't not contain current scholarship.]
  3. Search ITER, a subject database devoted to medieval studies, for a more expansive set of books, essays in books, and scholarly articles.
  4. Search Historical Abstracts, which begins coverage in 1450, for scholarly articles on the early modern period.