Searching Early English Books Online (EEBO)


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In this tutorial, you will learn how to find articles using Early English Books Online (EEBO). This database contains digital images of the first written works printed in English and includes virtually every work published in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and British North America from 1473-1700.

This is an interactive tutorial with directions on this side and a live website on the other side.

Use the arrows below to navigate through the tutorial.

Search for an Author

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You're going to look for publications written by Capt. John Smith, one of the leaders of the Virginia Colony from 1608-1609.

Click on Browse from the left hand menu.

In the Author search box, type Smith, John and click  the Look for button.

Find the entry: Smith, John, 1580-1631. Click view works (26 items) ››.

NOTE: To identify authors, it is useful to know their birth and death dates. View biographical resources.

Search for an Author

2 of 3Scroll down the first page of results until you locate this title:  

The generall historie of Virginia, Nevv-England, and the Summer Iles with the names of the adventurers, planters, and governours, from their first beginning, an0 1584.

NOTE: Since these are original documents, there will be variant spellings of many words. Keep this in mind when searching for documents.

Notice that this document is dated 1625 and that it's a copy from the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery.

Search for an Author

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To the left of this record, there are symbols for marking and viewing the document.

  • Click on the camera icon symbol (Document Images). This will display the first page image of the document.
  • To enlarge an image, click on the drop-down menu below it and select 100%, then click the Go button.

Whose portrait is on image page 3 of this document?

Save and E-mail a Record

Scroll to the top of the page and click on the check box next to Add this record to your Marked List. This saves the entry for later review, printing, emailing, or downloading.   

Click the Marked List link in the black bar at the top of the page.

If you choose to email EEBO records, you will receive a Durable URL that can be listed in a citation. The URL will link back to the record and image options.  

[More information]

Click your browser's back arrow until you are back to the results list.

View and Print Illustrations

Locate this entry again: The generall historie of Virginia, Nevv-England, and the Summer Iles ….

To view illustrations in the document, click on the pen iconicon (Illustrations).

Select the chart on image page 93 by clicking the image. 

Below the chart on the right, click the Adjust view & print ›› link. 

Notice that there are options at the top right where you can adjust the image size for viewing and printing.

To print, click the Print current view button. This will open a new window that you must close to get back to the database.

Click your browser's back arrow until you are back to the results list.

Search by Research Topic

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You're going to locate documents about early colonial plantations in North America.

At the top of the screen, click the option Search: Basic.

Notice that the Search using: Variant spellings option has already been selected for you. This is useful to pick up various spellings of words.

In the Keyword(s) search box, type plantations AND north america

Click the Search button.

Search Tip

Search by Research Topic

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You should have retrieved more than 500 hits in 44 records. Since you're only looking for information about early colonial plantations, you should narrow those results.

Click the ‹‹ Refine search link. Note that the default date range searched is 1473-1900.

According to the Library of Congress, the colonial period in America spanned from 1492-1763. So in the boxes next to Limit By Date, type 1492 to 1650. Click the Search button.

Search by Research Topic

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You should have narrowed your results down to 192 hits in 11 records. 

Select the record icon icon (Record) to the left of the first entry.

This will provide you with:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Imprint information (place of publication, publisher and date)
  • Date of publication
  • Bib name and number [more information]
  • Physical description
  • Notes [more information]
  • UMI Collection / reel number [more information]
  • Subject – Use these subject headings to locate additional documents

Looking at the record for this document, which Short Title Catalogue (STC) did it come from?

Search by Research Topic

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Click << Back to Results to go back to the results list.

Notice that each entry lists a number of hits found. This reflects the number of times your search terms appear within the document.

Find the entry by William Castell titled A short discoverie of the coasts and continent of America...

How many hits does this entry have?

Search by Research Topic

5 of 5To explore this document, click on View hits with section headings.

You have the option to download the full 269Kb document but you can also just view sections you are interested in.

Each section that appears has an instance of your keywords and these instances are marked with a blue icon that looks like this: blue icon

Click on the second section titled TO THE MOST HIGH AND HONOVRABLE... 

What is the first instance in this section of your keyword, "plantations?"

Search by Subject Keywords

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Now you're going to find information from early accounts about the Native Americans in North America.

Go to the top of the screen and click the Advanced search link.

Scroll down this page and locate the Subject Keyword(s) search box. Type indians, then click the link to the right of the search box: Select from a list ››.

Scroll down the list and select Indians of North America – Early works to 1800.

Click the OK button.

Search by Subject Keywords

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Notice that the subject terms have been entered into the Subject Keyword(s) search box. 

Click the Search button.

Results can be sorted in various ways using the drop-down Sort menu above the results. Use this to sort by Earliest publication first then click Go.

From the search results, what is the earliest publication year?

Search by Subject Keywords

3 of 3Scroll down and find the document by George Gardyner titled, A description of the new world...

Click on the record icon (Record) icon.

What are other relevant Subjects that you could use to search for related documents?

Search for Maps

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In this final search, you'll locate and retrieve early maps of North America.

At the top of the screen, click the Advanced search link.

In the Record Keyword(s) search box, type north america.

Scroll down the page to Illustration Type. Select Map then click the Search button.

Search for Maps

2 of 3Locate the entry near the bottom of the first page:

Penn, William, 1644-1718. A letter from William Penn, poprietary and governour of Pennsylvania…  

To the left of the entry, click the image.

Click on Image 1 of 10.

To enlarge the map, click on the drop-down menu below the map and select 100% then click Go.

What are the two rivers that serve as boundaries to the City of Philadelphia as described in this map?

Search for Maps

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Congratulations! You have completed the Early English Books Online (EEBO) tutorial.


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