10 November 2004

early english books online

I must say that this is just an absolutely incredible resource, one that will make available almost every book printed in Britain from 1473 to 1700 with powerful search options and providing documents in downloadable format.

Unfortunately, it's fantastically expensive for a library or institution to subscribe to the service, so EEBO might not be available to you unless you have access to or privileges at a university or seminary.

If you do have access, however, it's very helpful not only for scholars of English literature, but also for work in British historical theology, providing a wide range of rare and long out of print Puritan, Scottish, and Anglican texts, as well as a number of Continental Reformed texts that were translated into English or otherwise printed in Britain.

Until EEBO came along the breadth of texts available (through reprints and the like) has been rather idiosyncratic, so that a number of texts that, in their own day, were very highly regarded and widely disseminated have been left simply to moulder away in the obscurity of rare books rooms.

I've been using EEBO recently to read through some Puritans and Reformed Anglicans and have been very impressed by the quality, insight, and sheer diversity that existed in the late 16th and early to mid-17th centuries, on a whole range of issues within Reformed dogmatics. And one of these days I'll get around to reporting on some of what I've found.