EEBO Tutorial: Searching

I wrote this tutorial, and another, for my English 411 (Seventeenth Century Literature) students to complete their EEBO Assignment, but both may be useful to others. The instructions assume that you are logging in to Early English Books Online through your institution; mine is the University of Calgary Library.

Rebecca Welzenbach of the EEBO Text Creation Partnership has sent me a link to this video at the University of Warwick, which covers some of the same material.

Let’s start with EEBO’s interface, and see what it enables.

From the main page, you can Search or Browse the texts in EEBO’s database. Clicking Browse will give you a list (of authors) that you can search. That’s fine, but it can take a while to find the book you need. Instead, let’s click Search to find particular titles.

Say I want to look at Andrew Marvell’s poem “The Definition of Love.” I learn from “Notes to the Text” in the Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse (ed. Norbrook & Woudhuysen), page 802, that it first appeared in a book titled Miscellaneous poems that was printed in 1681. I enter this title into the Title Keyword(s) field, careful to spell it correctly; and then I Limit by Date to 1681 in both boxes:

And hey presto, I get the result I want:

See those little icons above the first page? Hover over them to see what each one is. I could click on the page image (second-last, above) for the Full Text. This is the simplest option, because it brings up the complete contents in your browser window. Then you can simply search for the poem title or a word in the text, click View Document Image and you have the page you want.

But some books will not have searchable full texts — and in any event, to complete the assignment you’ll need to look at all the images of the book.

You have a few options:

  1. Click on the camera image (second in the list, above) to get the Document Images.
  2. Click on the camera-in-page image (last in the list) to get the Thumbnails.
  3. Check the box (first in the list) to add this book to your Marked List.

I recommend option 3, which will let you download the book to your computer and open it as a PDF. Options 1 and 2 depend on a fast internet connection, because each image you want to look at has to load separately.

So for this tutorial, I’ll focus just on Option 3. Click the box and a checkmark will appear in it. Then click Marked List in the menu at the top of the page to get this:

From here it’s pretty obvious what to do. Click Download document image sets in PDF format and you’ll get this screen:

Under Reel position, click the button next to Download entire document. Then clickDownload and wait for it to arrive. This one asks you to confirm you want the whole document first, but then it takes (in my office) about 5 seconds to arrive. Here it is in Preview (on my Mac; the interface will be different if you use Windows).

So now, I can scroll easily through the document until I find “The Definition of Love.” To make my job easier, I check that “Note to the Text” again (in Norbrook & Woudhuysen, page 802), and it says “see no. 45, pp. 32-33.” So I do just that, and guess what I see on those pages?

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