Trial Access for Burney Collection and Search Methods


Gale/Cengage has generously agreed to offer a free trial of the Burney Collection for readers of this blog at  This provides us with an opportunity for an open discussion of the Burney Collection’s merits, both as a scholarly resource and as a pedagogical tool. 

In preparation for the two sessions on digital text-bases, it would be interesting to hear more about how users search Burney.  Search results can be overwhelming and show the need for the Library of Congress cataloguing and classification system to help categorize and make sense of the wealth of data that emerges from any given search.  Thomas Mann, a Reference Librarian at the Library of Congress, has a still useful 2005 discussion on the limits of computerized searching for research at  Mann’s site might be particularly helpful in discussing computerized searching with students.  His example is that the 11,000,000 results for the word “Afghanistan” are unclassified, whereas under the LC system, they are neatly parsed into “Antiquities,” “Bibliography,” “Biography,” “Boundaries,” Civilization,” and so forth.  So the argument in favor of LC classification and cataloguing is clear.

On the other hand, it would be foolish to overlook the value of non-classified search results.  Matthew’s p0st on machine reading makes clear the value of understanding more about what computers can do.  But searching Burney isn’t necessarily clear from the outset.  It would be very interesting to hear more about how individuals use search methods within ECCO, EEBO, and particularly Burney.  We are grateful to Gale/Cengage for making this collective review possible.


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30 Responses to “Trial Access for Burney Collection and Search Methods”

  1. Anna Battigelli Says:

    One thing I’m already noticing is the value of looking at advertisements. More soon. AB


  2. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Many thanks, Anna, for securing access for the blog.

    Pre-digital Burney, I was slowly making my way through certain newspaper titles (I actually have a microform reader at my home) tracing advertisements for given works and publishers. (Advertisements quickly become quite repetitive; the same copy for a title is often repeated again and again, but the variations when they occur can be significant).

    Online access, however, has caused me to search for new information–business news, shipping reports, law reports, notices of concerts, etc. I use addresses and personal names as search terms. If I am using common nouns (e.g. “paper” and “type”) as search terms then I almost always use proximity limits.

    For ECCO I am often looking for a particular title, the works of an author, or those of a publisher. I have performed key-word searches for other purposes. I had my undergrad seminar students last fall search for the occurrences of “coffee-house” in titles of works and then analyze what those titles suggested about the cultural uses of and associations with the coffee-house as a site. They made some good connections with specific essays found in The Tatler. and The Spectator as well as observations that would not have arisen from reading these essays or background articles on the coffeehouse phenomenon.


  3. Anna Battigelli Says:

    I like the idea of inviting students to search for “coffee-house” in the Burney Collection. That would seem to supplement discussions in The Tatler and The Spectator nicely.

    I am still experimenting with searching in Burney, and I have not yet found a good working method. Searching for two terms often brings up two pages with one of the terms on each page but no connection between the two terms. Searching for a single term seems too general. There must be a more methodic way to do word searches, or is there?


  4. Dave Mazella Says:

    This is so cool. I can’t wait to get into it. I’ve never used the Burney before. How long is the trial? I could work up a trial assignment for my Swift and Lit Studies class if we’ve got a few weeks with these goodies. DM


  5. Anna Battigelli Says:

    We may have access through October 30. Our terrific Gale representative, Theresa DeBenedictis, will double-check this, and when I hear back, I’ll confirm it. It would be great if you and others did use it with your students and reported back on its value. Many of us are still learning how to use these tools in classrooms.

    So far, I’m finding it more productive to search by selecting beginning and ending dates. Reading through the issues one by one, as Eleanor suggested she had done on her microfilm reader at home, seems more productive so far than using keyword searches. But I’m new to Burney and am probably missing something.


  6. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Anna and others,

    To solve the problem of receiving results for two terms that are on the same page but in two separate articles, you should use the proximity search. For example, under basic search I enter “paper w6 type”. That search will return cases in which the words paper and type appear within six words of one another.

    Also experiment–and observe how various words/phrases are presented in the papers (e.g., I had to search for “Paternoster-row” to return hits in certain newspaper titles). Substitute “f” for “s”.


  7. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Thanks for that, Eleanor. It also makes sense to experiment not just with substituting “f” for “s” but with spellings. The proximity search will be very helpful.


  8. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Absolutely–spelling variations can be key to devising effective search terms.


  9. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Three wildcards (*,?,!) are also useful. A list of frequently asked questions published by Gale notes that asterisks

    placed at the end of the term’s root . . . [helps] retrieve[] all words sharing the same root. For example, the term acqui* retrieves documents that contain the words acquit, acquitted, acquire, acquires, acquired, acquiring, and acquisition.”

    Similarly, the question mark (?) can be

    used to replace exactly one character within a word to retrieve various forms of that word. For example, the term wom?n retrieves documents that contain either woman or women.


    the ! point stands for one or no characters. For example, analo!! matches analog, analogs, and analogue but not analogous
    A word can NOT have both a wildcard and fuzzy search level applied to it. If both are specified, the wildcard will take precedence.


  10. Anna Battigelli Says:

    A general guide to searching Gale products is available at

    It would be helpful to have a streamlined version of this information designed specifically for the Burney Collection on the Burney front page.


    • Eleanor Shevlin Says:

      That’s a good idea, Anna. On ECCO, if I am not mistaken, search tips do appear on the side and rotate as one is using the product.


  11. Dave Mazella Says:

    The Gale guide looks like standard keyword searching stuff, fairly generic. It would be interesting to hear how those who have some experience with the Burney collection navigate through it. I’ve done some basic searches now, but it seems fairly overwhelming at this point.

    From my perspective, the geographic range of the sources is very exciting, but the chronological range (and this is an issue of the sources, I know) a little disappointing. So the Caribbean papers are great to have, but they are only for a year or two. But it does make me wonder what plans they have for expanding the current group of newspapers to encompass more non-London publications.

    I finally got around to the Mann article, which I think is excellent, and which I might assign in my Intro to Lit studies course to show them the difference between keyword searching, Google-style, and the more predictable process of using LC categories. I think the key is the ability to predict where the holdings will be, whereas GBS for example produces an unpredictable set of findings that allow you to reconstruct contexts that would be harder to anticipate. But I appreciate Mann’s point that keyword searching will never replace the structured presentation of information found in something like the LC system.


  12. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Yes, the search features in Burney do follow in many ways generic standards.

    Like ECCO and similar Gale projects, the titles selected for Burney came from the Burney Collection on microform. Other digital projects such as the Adams Matthew Eighteenth Century Journals Portals contain other newspaper titles–some from India, for example. We need to remember that many issues of newspapers (and titles) have not survived. Also, many newspapers have been microfirmed by various different parties to form different collections, so a company must secure access/the rights to digitize such collections that are already commercial.

    Mann’s piece is very good–and I suspect the piece was motivated as a response to ideas floated at the LC that digitial projects would eliminate the need for cataloguing, indexing, etc. (a horrendous thought).

    What type of information are you, Dave, and others interested in finding? There are some many possibilities for searches–no doubt a reason that the database may seem overwhelming.

    Through a combined personal name and street address (with date limitations), I cfound last week a notice for a school reunion dinner for a person I am working on. That person was one of the stewards for the dinner and the ad suggests he attended this school. I am now using information in the ad to uncover information about the school, its proprietor, fellow schoolmates, etc. This is one example, but I could supply more (if my Internet connection works–it’s been intermittent since Thursday night; tech people working on afar and are finally coming to home today), if I knew the type of information you were seeking.

    Of course, I use publication titles (and variations of them) to find ads for works–and imitations.


  13. Anna Battigelli Says:

    One thing that I would love to know more about Burney involves not research but teaching. For a class on Jane Austen or on the Gothic novel, or even the early English novel, what kinds of things could one have students do with Burney? I know that Eleanor had students look up “coffee-house” to supplement discussions of The Tatler and The Spectator. What other kinds of assignments are successful?

    I would also be interested in hearing more about how using Burney transforms the concept of what gets taught as “literature.” I would love to hear Cynthia Wall weigh in on this. If any digitized tool encourages interdisciplinarity, Burney would seem to.


  14. Dave Mazella Says:

    This is what I’m thinking about right now. I’m assuming that with a trial that lasts through the 30th of October, I can at least have one assignment about this per course. I’ve got a grad novel class and my undergrad intro to lit studies course, which focuses on Swift and Gulliver’s Travels. The Swift course is pretty crowded right now, because I do a lot of information literacy stuff, but my grad course is wide open. It’s essentially a Jane Austen and her predecessors style course, so it’s a lot more about novels and novel criticism (as well as undergrad teaching) but I’m trying to teach contextualization in a less hackneyed way than assigned secondary readings.

    In my experience, novels get taught really effectively alongside social history, so focusing on those kinds of issues through the Burney would be interesting. I also like assignments where students are asked to take a theme or event or discussion from their secondary reading and find something in the non-literary realm (Roy Porter, or the Burney database) to see the differences in presentation. For all these assignments, though, the students need to learn how to do their own searches, not simply follow my lead to a single assigned reading.


    • Anna Battigelli Says:


      I’m also teaching an Austen class, though mine is an undergraduate class. Perhaps we can share notes.


      • Dave Mazella Says:

        Sure. I’m using it as an opportunity to talk about undergrad teaching anyway, so there will be plenty of overlap. I’m still figuring out my details, but I’ll be sharing stuff really soon. In the meantime, take a look at my latest post on the Burney. DM


  15. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Hi, Anna

    The “coffee-house” exercise was actually using ECCO (which is perhaps a better tool for demonstrating the variety of textual production at the time through work with actual texts).

    Burney can illustrate rather vividly to students the material and cultural aspects of eighteenth-century life. News articles/poetry/etc. that appear in the newspapers also crop up in 18th-century novels. Edward Kimber’s Life and Adventures of Joe Thompson offers a perhaps obscure now but very-popular-then-example; the novel contains letters and accounts that had appeared previously in his own newspaper pieces and show the mixing of fact/fiction. Jill Campbell’s article, “Domestic Intelligence: Newspaper Advertising and the Eighteenth-Century Novel” (Yale Journal of Criticism, 15.2 (Fall 2002): 251-291) is one I often have students read. Its opening paragraph nicely illustrates what newspapers offer:

    An advertisement published in the March 25, 1728, issue of The Daily Journal exhibits the “formal realism” for which Richardson’s novels were to be so celebrated. Positioned between a notice that “a large Brick House” is “To be Lett” and an announcement that “the Principal Part of the Collection of Pictures, of Mr. Nicholas Blick, deceased” is “to be sold on Wednesday the 20th Instant, at his Son’s House,” it reads:

    Lost on Thursday last, between Grace-Church-street, and Long-Acre, by a Person that went Part of the Way in a Hackney-Coach, about five Yards of Cambrick and two of Muslin, three little square Boards and several small Bits of Linen of different Colours, all ty’d up together in a blue and white check’d silk Handkerchief, with a reddish Border round the Edges, and mark’d with a D at one of the Corners: If the Person who has found the abovesaid Things, will bring or send them to Mr. RICHARDSON’S, Printer, in Salisbury-Court; or to Mr. BENN’S Coffee-house, in New Bond-street, by Hanover-Square, they shall receive half a Guinea Reward, and Thanks.

    The advertisement’s detailed description of the contents of the lost bundle is reminiscent of famous passages in Pamela …. . (251).

    Besides advertisements for places to let, articles lost or found, positions wanted, students can also search for spin-offs of works–both other texts and material products. In addition they can see what was beng marketed to this society and how through the products advertised. Following an ad for a product as it progresses through the paper can *sometimes* be an interesting exercise in the strategies at work; one can also analyze what these products suggest about social concerns, attitudes, and the like.

    For Austen (depending on what novel, too–one would probably want to access Burney 19th-century newspapers), one could see how Radcliffe’s and other gothic novels were advertised, what fabrics/fashions seemed to be in style, what was playing at the theatre and what other forms of entertainment was being offered. Students might also review the write-ups of social events; they could analyze class and/or gender implications of ads and news items.
    One might also draw attention to the bankruptcy notices as well as the cost of items.


  16. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    A novel course could definitely benefit from using Burney. Gale gave my undergrad seminar class a trial (you might want to ask your Gale rep to set one up for your grad class on your library’s page–or your course page. I requested certain months, so it fit in with my class plans and also enabled them to use it for their final projects). My undergrads were able to search independently; I did a few in-class exercises using Burney to prepare and acclimate them to the process.

    I also meant to mention that Burney could also be used to examine political topics and scandals (social, criminal, etc) of interest. As for specific possible toipics, have readers of Fielding’s Tom Jones look at pieces on Jacobites, readers of Joseph Andrews’s look for ads for sermons, and so forth. How does Bath as a destination figure in these papers.


  17. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Dave’s point is on target. The goal is to create an assignment that encourages students to explore on their own, while providing sufficient guidelines to make Burney useable. One example of the kind of thing that might get searches started is to recommend a search for a keyword within specific dates, say 1796-1804 for a course on Jane Austen. A search for “country dancing” between these dates brings up a series advertisements by dancing masters such as the ominpresent William Bourk or the duo Allen and Wilson. But it also yields detailed news accounts of assembly dances and many items having to do with women’s fashions. Students could begin with this search and then move on to their own searches. The results would seem to serve as a good basis for at least a day’s discussion of Austen’s social world that would inevitably branch into subsequent discussions–each supplemented by Burney searches as students build their searching skills.

    I’d like to hear about other kinds of assignments. It would be nice to build a starter’s archive of pedagogical exercises for Burney.


  18. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Anna’s very fine example is akin to the exercises we did as samples in class and illustrates specifically the type of assignment I had hoped to suggest by the list of broad possibilities I provided. A variation of this assignment using Vauxhall, Drury-Lane theatre, the theatre at Haymarket, and so forth could be done with Evelina, and one could use the approximate dates of letters/time-frame of Burney’s novel as the temporal parameters for one’s search.

    One could take the real case of the murder of Martha Ray (mistress of the Earl of Sandwich) by James Hackman, soldier and minister of the Church of England, in April 1779 and ask students to search for accounts of the event in the paper. John Brewer has written a wonderfully rich work, Sentimental Murder: Love and Madness in the Eighteenth Century (2005), about the event and its aftermath, including analysis of how the accounts of this event were shaped and altered over subsequent decades. If one wanted to do a multi-part assignments, readings from Brewer’s work could be assigned after students have performed their own searches and analyses.

    One could also have students search for references to Jonathan Wilde to see the types of ads he inserted for the return of stolen goods as well as accounts of his demise. One could use these primary sources to flesh out the context for Defoe’s or Fielding’s account.

    In a creative vein, I have asked students to review a single issue and use its contents to sketch 18th-century characters, episodes, and details that could form the basis of a novel from the decade in which the issue appeared.

    Some preliminary work with students can help ensure their independence and guard against their becoming frustrated or feeling overwhelmed. For example, students do need to have a sheet offering how-to-search tips. An in-class session on how to search is also a must in my mind–and a discussion in that same class of what one might do with the findings and how this information could be used to flesh out the reading we are doing. My experience in last fall’s seminar indicated that after a few in-class exercises, students were generally able to explore on their own and do quite well.

    If any are interested in some readings on advertisements, here is a selected list:

    Henry Sampson, A history of advertising from the earliest times: Illustrated by anecdotes (London: Chatto and Windos, 1875).

    William Todd, ‘On the Use of Advertisements in Bibliographical Studies’, The Library, fifth ser., 8 (1953): 174–187.

    RB Walker, ‘Advertising in London Newspapers, 1650–1750’, Business History 15 (1973): 112–30.

    Rosamond McGuinness, ‘Newspapers and Musical Life in 18th Century London: A Systematic Analysis’, Journal of Newspaper & Periodical History, 1/1 (1984): 29–36.

    Christopher Todd, ‘French Advertising in the Eighteenth Century’, Studies on Voltaire & the Eighteenth Century 266 (1989): 513–47.

    James Raven, ‘Serial Advertisement in Eighteenth–Century Britain and Ireland’, in Robin Myers and Michael Harris (eds), Serials and their Readers, 1620–1914 (Winchester and New Castle, DE, 1993), pp. 103–24.

    Peter M. Briggs, ‘“News from the little World”: A Critical Glance at British Advertising’, Studies in Eighteenth–Century Culture 23 (1994): 29–45.

    Beverly Schneller, ‘Using Advertisements to Study the Book Trade: A Year in the Life of Mary Cooper’, in O.M. Brack, Jr. (ed.), Writers, Books and Trade: An Eighteenth–Century English Miscellany for William B. Todd (New York, 1994), pp. 123–43.

    James Tierney, ‘Book Advertisements in Mid–18th–Century Newspapers: The Example of Robert Dodsley’, in Robin Myers and Michael Harris (eds), A Genius for Letters: Booksellers and Bookselling from the 16th to the 20th Century (Winchester and New Castle, DE, 1995), pp. 103–22.

    James Tierney, ‘Advertisements for Books in London Newspapers, 1760–1785’, Studies in Eighteenth–Century Culture 30 (2001): 153–64.

    Maurizio Gotti, ‘Advertising Discourse in Eighteenth–Century English Newspapers’, in Janne, Skaffari, Matti Peikola, Ruth Carroll, Risto Hiltunen and Brita Wårvik (eds), Opening Windows on Texts and Discourses of the Past (Amsterdam and Philadelphia), 2005, pp. 23–38.

    James Raven, ‘Promoting the Wares’, The Business of Books: Booksellers and the English Book Trade, 1450–1850 (New Haven, CT, 2007), pp. 257–93, 421–5.


  19. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Thanks, Eleanor. The list of articles on advertisements, together with Jill Campbell’s article you mentioned earlier, is helpful. I love your teaching suggestions! I can imagine long, productive, and lively discussions of criminal and commercial activity in eighteenth-century novels generated by students’ use of Burney.


  20. Nick Says:

    I’ve just spent a happy evening exploring the Burney Collection. To put my feedback in context, I am a postgraduate historian working on mid-seventeenth century English newsbooks – but with a strong interdisciplinary leaning and particular interests in bibliography and literary criticism. The research I’m doing (and currently trying to write up!) does focus on newspapers as sources for reconstructing political events, but also on various things such as:

    – the materiality of newsbooks and their relationship to the London book trade
    – how newsbooks were used and influenced by political grandees and factions
    – style, layout and aesthetics and the links between poetics and politics
    – early use of advertisements within them

    Unfortunately access to the collection has come slightly too late to influence much of what I’m writing up, but in playing with the collection I’ve tried to think about how it could be used for all of these themes. Some initial thoughts:

    – Keyword searches. Like others, I found these best not as a way of exploring sources initially, but as a way of carrying out refined searches after coming to sources with a reasonable amount of prior knowledge. A good example is in navigating the back and forth of arguments between rival editors, as they attempted to slander and outdo each other in print. Having a knowledge of the names and nicknames of editors, and the terms of abuse, I was able to use the full text to find references I had not been aware of. I hadn’t been able to do this in EEBO because the titles I am studying have not yet been converted to full text. The fuzzy search option in particular proved extremely handy in tracking down relevant words. Similarly, in searching for (relatively isolated) occurrences of adverts, it was helpful to be able to search for common words and phrases to pin these down. Previously I have had to plough through manually to find these.

    – Navigating the collection. I found the Excel spreadsheet listing titles a good way of delving in to which publications would be relevant. I found going to the “about title” page and delving in that way a good method of going through individual titles chronologically. One small but significant point I found, which may just be due to my Athens connection, is that the Burney Collection was far, far quicker to load than EEBO.

    – Categories. To me, some of these were odd choices. An example is the Man in the Moon, a 1649 royalist title which combined scatological and pornographic rhetoric with penetrating attacks on Parliamentarian politics. This was labelled as Arts and Entertainment rather than Newspaper or Newsbook – while I can see the rationale I think would be misleading to scholars coming fresh to the period to see it placed there rather than under newsbook or newspaper (on which topic I think some of the civil war newsbooks, which are books rather than papers, are miscategorised as the latter). I couldn’t find any explanation of the different categories although that may just be me missing it.

    – Bibliographic information. I thought this was limited compared to EEBO, and while EEBO often does no more than reproduce what is in the STC (which in itself can often make rather heroic authorial attributions), the Burney Collection didn’t give details of authors, editors, printers, etc. So I’d suggest that students using it for 17th century materials do so in conjunction with the STC online. Actually this is how I use EEBO already, given the limitations of EEBO’s search engine.

    – Full text. To me this is the greatest advantage of the collection over EEBO, which has not yet produced text versions of 17th century newspapers. The search engine seemed very sophisticated and allowed me to do all sorts of searches which would have taken days within minutes. One “ideal world” scenario would be to be able to download an entire set of a title’s issues in one document as plain text. If this is possible, a) I couldn’t figure it out and b) please tell me since it will make a huge difference to my work! For example I would love to be able to do key-word analysis or produce word clouds of particular titles.

    – Material aspects of the sources. Obviously as scholars and as people living in the 21st century we view and read early modern newspapers differently to contemporaries. Viewing them in black and white and on screen puts us one further remove away from at least attempting to read them as contemporaries might have done. Like EEBO, this is where I found the Collection slightly wanting – I couldn’t find any obvious labels about the size of newspapers, for example whether they were in quarto or otherwise, which can make a difference when trying to see them from readers’ perspectives.

    In short I found it a great improvement on EEBO in several respects, and while still not quite there in ticking everything on my wishlist, an extremely helpful resource. I wish I was starting my research now with it rather than coming to it at right at the end – and my thanks to Gale for the opportunity to test it.


  21. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Hi Nick,

    Thanks for the informative posting. Your project sounds very promising. Like you, I wondered whether it was possible to download an entire set of a title’s issues in one document. I have not been able to do that. Does anyone know whether this can be done?

    And I agree that it would also be nice to have an indication of a newspaper’s size and format.


    • Eleanor Shevlin Says:

      I am not sure–but I just mentioned in my post below that I don’t believe it is yet possible (if it will ever be–each issue seems to be an individually entity, for one; plus, see my remarks about ECCO).


  22. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Thanks, Nick! Your project sounds fascinating, and your comments offering your impressions of Burney are much appreciated. Although your access to Burney has seemed to come a bit late for your project, your manual searching, I suspect, has given you insights and skills that have enhanced your approach to the electronic Burney. (Your remarks about keyword searches offer a good example.)

    As for this tool’s bibliographic shortcomings that you note, addressing such problems is a prime reason Anna and I have organized our EC/ASECS and ASECS roundtables. We established this blog to initiate discussions in advance of these meetings, so your remarks are helpful here, too. And, I absolutely agree with your comments about categories and the often mystifying placement of an item in one slot when it clearly seems to belong in another. The collection has been digitized from microfilm, and often because of these items fragility even if an archive has the originals one is often directed to using the microfilm copies (and those of course also create the situation of reading the text online–and in some ways reading on microfilm screens may seem even more removed from the originals than reading on computer screens.

    I do not believe that one can download all the issues for a title (and for some 18th-century papers that would amount to a *huge amount* of material). When ECCO, which Gale-Cengage also owns, first appeared, one was able to only download 50 pages at a time of a work. That limit has now been expanded for ECCO, but Burney has the 50-page limit. Moreover, it would seem that each issue is a separate file/unit. I am very grateful that Gale allows trial uses to download, save, and print texts…the Adams 18th-Century Jorunals did not allow trial users to do so.


  23. Gloria Eive Says:

    Dear Friends,
    I’m a musicologist and the area I’m most interested in is 18th c Italian insrumental music where most materials are unpublished mss. Musicology takes us everywhere though, so as we used to quip, musicologists have to know everything which menas we find ourselves doing research in the strangest places, on most unmusical subjects.
    Your efforts to create an 18thc book tracker are splendid and I commend you for all the wonderful gifts to scholarship you are providing, even if your ‘finds’ are not in my field. I
    I just finished some extensive research for an article I wrote and had occasion to use the GALE database for the Burney collection. I’ve used their courtesy free access several times, and found all sorts of notices that I would never have found otherwise. The keyword search function is not perfect, of course, and frequently doesn’t locate the name or word you’ve entered even with variant spellings. There are some items I never could find although I”m certain they were published but I’m probably not entering the correct keyword. The biggest problem I had with the GALE database was manipulating the text size feature so that I could read the page after I had printed it. I finally worked out a sequence for downloading, saving (so I could identify it later), and magnifying the page sufficiently.
    My research kept me focused on London, 1720s, although I read most of the 18thc papers in the Burney collection. I’m astounded at the enormous boon to scholarship the digital books and papers offer and infinitely grateful to GALE and all of you wonderful people who make these materials available to scholars. I started my scholarly life in dark freezing church attics pouring over musty, moldy music mss, tax records and baptismal records, and copying page after page of chronicles grateful just to have my little portable typewriter. This was the world BC and BX (before computer and before xerox) and we copied everything by hand, or, if we could manage, with a 35mm SLR camera–and then spent months in darkened rooms peering at microfilms and, again, transcribing scores and registers by hand.
    My small college library now subscribes to some of the big databases (OED, Oxford DNB, Encyclopedia Brittanica, and others) and these alone have transformed my research life. The Univ of California libraries (or Harvard, Duke, etc) have everything of course, but one must be a student/staff member/student with an account to access the databases from off-campus. I can search the data files on campus of course, but timing is not always convenient for running to the library to look for a small item or check the RISM records.
    I’ve tried to use the Google books on several occasions and find the program maddening, especially when Google omits pages. I’ve become very crafty at finding the bits of text I need using the Google books or even Amazon, when I’m lucky, but it’s a matter of luck. is more manageable, but, of course, doesn’t have much in my fields. Gutenburg and Bartleby (for my purposes) have less but I’m grateful to see the material is available for other people even if I don’t need it, and likewise EEBO and ECCO which are out of my field.
    The materials I need for my research are still largely unavailable in digital form–mostly 18thc Italian mss (music and texts). The Italian libraries have beautiful websites but with very little content yet. The German libraries and archives are better, and the librarians are wonderfully helpful at scanning the material I need and sending it (very quickly) neatly compressed onto a cd. The Madrid Biblioteca Nacional is incredible in this respect. My ‘hard-core’ research still requires travelling (and funding for these expenses) and physically examining and copying the mss.
    My wish-list for your splendid project would include fully digitalized copies of exts such as Gerber’s, Sainsbury’s, and other early 19thc dictionaries and encyclopedias travel diaries and correspondence (deBrosses, Montagu, and other diarists), and, of course, the copies of the music and related mss. Having Padre Martini’s library available in digital form, and all the correspondence in collections such as Bologna’s Civico Museo Bibliiograpfica Musicale would be like manna from Heaven. The German materials are becoming more available through the Beethoven, Schubert, Bach, Mozart, Haydn, etc. scholarly projects, and on Gallica (Bibliothèque Nationale) but the Italians seldom published and their primary materials are still available only ‘in the flesh’. The Italian collections in places like St. Petersburg are also goldmines waiting to be explored but the Russians have other bureaucratic restrictions that make it extremely difficult and expensive to explore their archives. Some of the European archives have decent catalogues of the 18thc material and mss now but the anon pages and of course, watermarks, require physically examining the mss. My wish list includes the relatively few 18tc Italian periodicals that survived the bombardments during WWII.
    I apologize for this excessively long ‘comment’ but I hope my observations are helpful . I am truly profoundly grateful for all your efforts. Anything you can make accessible will be a boon to scholars even if I don’t need the materials for my own research.
    I will be very happy to assist you in your efforts in any way I can, although I’m afraid the materials I need are outside the areas you’re focusing on.
    Thank you, thank you!
    With appreciation,
    Gloria Eive


  24. Eleanor Shevlin Says:


    Many thanks for this informative post… I know your work from past EC/ASECS conferences, and I am glad tohear how you have been using these various tools. If you are attending EC/ASECS this October, I hope that you will come to the ECCO, Burney roundtable and/or to Anna’s ASECS roundtable in the spring.

    Do you know Rosamond (Corky) McGinness? She is now retired from Royal Holloway but has spent years compiling a comprehensive index of of all things related to music in 18th-century British newspapers. Here index has yet to be published, but might be interested in this article that offers some background:

    Rosamond McGuinness, ‘Newspapers and Musical Life in 18th Century London: A Systematic Analysis’, Journal of Newspaper & Periodical History, 1/1 (1984): 29–36.

    As for your frustration regarding Google Book Search, it seems as if you approached this tool (at least initially) expecting it to be a tool that functions as a text delivery system–something more like ECCO, Burney, or even Project Muse or JStor. While you can find at times a number of texts that you can download or view in full, GBS is not a digital library in its present incarnation.


  25. 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers from Gale « Enfilade Says:

    […] Posted in resources by enfilade18thc on August 27, 2009 As noted by Anna Battigelli at Early Modern Online Bibliography, Gale’s Burney Collection is available free of charge until October 30 for EMOB readers. To […]


  26. Thinking about Teaching « Enfilade Says:

    […] (as noted earlier here, the Burney Collection is available for free until October 30 through Early Modern Online Bibliography). The postings are all accompanied by dozens of comments. For the most part, the specifics apply to […]


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