Eighteenth Century Journals Portal


I received an offer of a trial subscription to the Eighteenth Century Journals Portal last year, but I did not have time to explore it.  It is published by Adam Matthew Digital in the UK.  I had been planning on mentioning it, but I also wanted to keep our focus on EECO and EEBO for the time being because these two databases are the focus of our conference sessions.

Yet I just received a new offer of a trial, so I thought I would mention it (I suspect that the firm would be more than willing to offer trials to others). Have others used this resource?  I will be trying it over the next few days.

Here is a description of what it contains:

Eighteenth Century Journals Portal consists of the following resources:

  • Eighteenth Century Journals I
    Newspapers and Periodicals, 1693-1793, from the Bodleian Library, Oxford
  • Eighteenth Century Journals II
    Newspapers and Periodicals, 1699-1812, from the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin
  • Eighteenth Century Journals III
    Newspapers and Periodicals, 1680-1816, from British Library Newspapers, Colindale and Cambridge University Library

The Eighteenth Century Journals Portal offers seamless integration between all collections and enables streamlined browsing and searching via a single user interface.

Eighteenth Century Journals I is drawn from the Hope Collection at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. It brings together 76 rare journals printed between 1714 and 1799. The collection combines well-known publications with more minor works, offering users a wide-ranging view of eighteenth century publishing culture.

Authors represented include Joseph Addison, Henry Fielding, Horace Walpole, Richard Steele, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas Chatterton. Topics covered include law and policing; British colonial possessions; the South Sea Bubble, religion, female dress and the American and French revolutions; politics, marriage, and morality. A particular strength is eighteenth century drama, with over 19 titles relating to the theatre.

The collection offers students and scholars of the eighteenth century an opportunity to examine a variety of topical issues, and to compare a range of perspectives on the debates of the day. Accessible and easy to use, it will prove an invaluable addition to any library supporting studies of the eighteenth century.

Eighteenth Century Journals II from the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin is a critical resource for the study of all aspects of the eighteenth century. It offers a wide variety of newspapers and periodicals which are not available elsewhere. Many are extremely rare and exist only in short runs. All are now offered in extremely clear greyscale images, supported by fully searchable text that has been double-keyed and is captured in the original format.

This resource can be used for the study of:

  • British and European Literature
  • Theatre and popular entertainment
  • Politics and Religion
  • The American and French Revolutions
  • Popular morality and social life
  • Picturesque and Landscape
  • The origins and rise of Romanticism
  • Exoticism and imperialism

Eighteenth Century Journals III is drawn from British Library Newspapers at Colindale and from Cambridge University Library. At the request of scholars and librarians, it focuses on journals published outside of London.

Scholars will be excited by the inclusion of Canadian, Caribbean and Indian journals and can explore the ways in which major world events such as the revolution in Haiti are reported in different areas.

They will also be delighted to see the large number of Irish journals, together with a good number of titles published in Edinburgh, Canterbury and Cambridge.

As always, the material has been carefully checked against Burney, ECCO, Early British Periodicals and other relevant sources to avoid needless duplication.  All of the material has been double-keyed and is fully searchable, achieving 99.5% accuracy (much higher than using OCR).



12 Responses to “Eighteenth Century Journals Portal”

  1. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Last fall there was a discussion on SHARP-L (the listserv for the Societiy for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing) about the need to have reviews of electronic databases to assist in decisions to purchase.

    The *Library Journal* offers some reviews of these databases, but it became clear that more collaboration between library purchasers and actual users was needed.

    Issues that arose during the SHARP-L exchange (the discussion centered on ProQuest’s British Periodicals database) were problems with text difficult to read, pagination problems, incomplete issues not clearly marked, and the like.


  2. Stephen Karian Says:

    My university has access to parts 1 and 2 of this collection, which is much smaller than Gale’s Burney newspapers project. The print runs in Eighteenth Century Journals are often minimal. Finally, the user interface is not as good as the Burney newspapers. Perhaps over time this Adam Matthew project will fill in the gaps from other newspaper collections. I have of course found things there that I otherwise would not have found, so it’s good to have this as a supplement to the Burney newspapers, but for right now it is not essential.

    A really good collection of 18th and 19th century periodicals (no newspapers) is British Periodicals, put out by Chadwyck-Healey:


    The website lists information about trial runs.


  3. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Thanks, Steve. I have heard good things about the British Periodicals database, but I’ve not had the opportunity to use it.

    It was the subject of a flurry of exchanges on SHARP-L last fall, but I think the complaints (while quite valid in many ways), also stem from the relative infancy of the development of these tools and expectations of what they can do and how they should be used (these issues dovetail with your remarks in your posting, “Digital Textbases and Optical Character Recognition (OCR)”).

    I am not reproducing these exchanges because of copyright issues, but they can be found by searching the SHARP-L archives

    LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU ( SHARP-L: 7 matches.. )

    Item # Date Time Lines Subject
    018207 2008-10-28 12:46 46 Re: subscription databases: reviews, anyone?
    018206 2008-10-28 11:40 260 Re: subscription databases: reviews, anyone?
    018205 2008-10-28 07:49 32 Re: subscription databases: reviews, anyone?
    018204 2008-10-28 06:45 53 Re: subscription databases: reviews, anyone?
    018200 2008-10-28 05:51 71 Re: subscription databases: reviews, anyone?
    018202 2008-10-27 22:15 35 Fwd: subscription databases: reviews, anyone?
    018192 2008-10-26 13:11 161 subscription databases: reviews, anyone?


  4. Dave Mazella Says:

    We don’t have this portal, but Rice does, and I had many of the same reactions Steve had. I heard that we might be getting the CH periodicals collection, but it seemed more weighted to 19c periodicals than 18th.

    I guess my basic concern is that we have a number of digital collections appearing that try not to overlap, and really can’t be considered “comprehensive” in any way, but have some amount of stuff useful to poke around in, sort of like a small special collections library with interesting and surprising things there. So how can this be made more usable?

    My answer would be better indexing and retrieval, which would allow users with specific questions move through it quickly. And maybe some indication of the specific kinds of discussions, writers, contexts etc. contained inside. Otherwise it’s just a black box, without a hint of whether it would be worth consulting or not.


  5. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    My sense is that the CH is more weighted to 19th-century material.

    Dave’s suggestion about better indexing is something that Jim Tierney’s project aims to provide. It is ironic that Jim had much trouble initially obtaining funding because of the sense that digitization of newspapers and magazines that would be searchable made indexing unncessary. That view has changed.


  6. Dave Mazella Says:

    I think one of the issues in all of this is the proprietary aspect of the index: while ideally I suppose the database should provide it, the rather clunky platforms we’re seeing indicate that these collections will only provide so much guidance into their materials.

    Tierney’s stuff I agree would make this much more usable, but if I understand you correctly, his indexing will be some kind of standalone reference work distributed by some other publisher. This means again that the possibility of further refining his work in the future may be limited by the publisher’s economic needs, as we’ve seen with ESTC.

    Ideally, what I’d like to see is something like an accessible, structured index on the open web, with references/links back to the appropriate collections. Scholars working on specific materials somewhere could submit further sub-indexing suggestions to some kind of editorial committee, and the thing would grow over time and remain accessible. Since this kind of thing requires money for upkeep etc., it would need institutional underwriting, just as with an academic journal. But I don’t think people would question the usefulness of such activity.

    Linda Colley has said that her latest book on Elizabeth Walsh could not have been written prior to the placement of various special collections catalogs from all over the world on the web. Obviously you have to know where to look, but it seems to me that the more accessible the index is, the more it gets used, and the better the chances that additional people will be able to refine it over time. But there are difficult money issues in either direction.


  7. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Yes, proprietary issues are a key concern.

    Jim Tierney has two projects (that I had conflated in my mind), but when I wrote to ask him for an update on where the index might appear once it’s ready, he straightened me out. One involves taking a census of periodical production and uncovering the whereabouts of extant copies. Jim and his colleague have already constructed a list of titles that exceeds anything currently in print or on-line.

    As for now, the index has no home, but I believe Jim is interested in finding a library or suitable substitute to host it.

    Perhaps 18thConnect might be able to be a home for the index. While it would be wonderful to have some links/cross-referencing for the index to the Cengage-Gale’s Burney Collection, this and similar databses would not make a good “home/host” for the index because it would then be owned by a commercial entity.

    Jim is in the middle of finishing up a project to meet a deadline, and I hope we will hear from him directly once he has completed that.


  8. Laura Rosenthal Says:

    What is the relationship between “British Periodicals” and the Burney Collection? The Library of Congress has British Periodical but not the Burney Collection, although they have most of the other Gale databases. I have been asking around to try to find out if there are plans to get it there, but one librarian implied that the Burney materials would be found within British Periodicals. I’m sure there’s some overlap, but does anyone know of a discussion of their differences?


  9. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Chadwyck-Healey publishes British Periodicals, and this collection consists of journals/magazines. Cengage-Gale publishes the Burney 17th and 18th Century Newspaper Collection, and it consists of newspapers. The Library of Congress had a trial subscription to Burney, and it had been my understanding that they were going to purchase this collection. Unfortunately, it seems as if they have not. We really should speak to them–Abby Yochelson in the Main Reading room may well be able to help–as well as some others.


  10. Laura Rosenthal Says:

    Thank you! I was really surprised that they didn’t have it and imagine they will at some point, but I’m sure a little encouragement won’t hurt.


    • Eleanor Shevlin Says:

      I am surprised too–and had counted on using it there in August! My plans will need to change. A friend of mine said that someone in rare books also thought that the two pretty much held the same material–and that’s not true at all. I will email Abby and a few others.


  11. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    An update for those interested– the humanities reference librarians at the Library of Congress are in the process of submitting a request to obtain the Burney Collection.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: