Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) See also Artemis: Primary Sources.

ECCO contains a digitized copy of nearly every book printed in the UK during the 18th century and thousands of books from the British colonies.

ECCOSearch  ECCO has been OCR’d by the publisher which allows for full text searches. But because older printed materials are difficult to convert from images to text, a “full text search” searches text which is often garbled by the OCR process. This means that search results can be misleading. For information about search strategies within ECCO, click the Info from Publisher tab in Beyond Citation to see tips from the publisher. Click the Conversations tab for suggestions from scholars.

ECCO has been criticized by scholars for not showing a full opening of the book—a two-page spread. As book historian Ian Gadd explains, ECCO presents users with a single, cropped page. In so doing, it has taken the opportunity to remove every blank page that ever appeared in an eighteenth-century book. . . .There are, for example, no blank title-page versos in ECCO. (Paywalled article.)

Provenance

In ECCO, the Full Citation notes the source collection of the item and may indicate information such as a manuscript number. Click on the History/Provenance tab in Beyond Citation for more information.

Downloading full-text of documents

In the standalone version of ECCO, users may download only a PDF of the image of documents. If the user has access to Artemis: Primary Sources, a platform which may include ECCO, it is possible to download the ASCII full text of the documents.

About 2000 documents, a small subset of the files in ECCO, have been converted into searchable text in many formats for both human reading and machine reading. These are available to people without institutional access to ECCO through an initiative called the Text Creation Partnership. These texts may also be accessible in bulk for text mining purposes. Those interested in acquiring the bulk full text are asked to request it individually to limit the negative effects of web scraping on project servers.

Experience of UK users

In the UK, database users at institutions with access to the JISC Historical Texts platform have a different search experience than users in the U.S. or others using the Gale ECCO standalone or Artemis platforms. The Historical Texts platform allows “conceptual searches.” In 2012, Kelly Centrelli wrote about the difference in search results between the platforms on The Long Eighteenth blog. Historical Texts was formerly called JISC Historic Books. The name was changed in June 2014.

Date range: 1701-1800

Publisher: Gale Cengage

Publisher About page:  http://gdc.gale.com/products/eighteenth-century-collections-online

Object type: Books, Images, Ephemera

Exportable image: Yes

Facsimile image: Yes

Full text searchable: Yes

Titles list links: Click the download button on the upper right of the publisher’s page about ECCO for a 19 mb Excel format file.

Provenance: In ECCO, the Full Citation notes the source collection of the item and may indicate information such as a manuscript number.

Original catalog: Based on the English Short Title Catalog plus additional content.

Digitized from microfilm: Yes

Original sources: British Library, Oxford University (Bodleian); National Library of Scotland; Cambridge University; Library of Congress; Boston Public Library; National Library of Ireland; University of Texas; University of London; Trinity College (Dublin); Kansas University; Trinity College (Hartford, CT); National Library of Wales; University of California, Los Angeles.

Click on WorldCat to see the library closest to you that has access to this database.

Reduced price access

For information on free or reduced price access to ECCO through professional associations, see Eleanor Shevlin’s blog post on Early Modern Online BibliographyCommercial Databases: Greater Access to JSTOR, EEBO, ECCO, Burney, and More in 2014? 2 Jan. 2014.

Free access to full-text

About 2000 documents, a small subset of the files in ECCO, have been converted into searchable text in formats for human reading and machine reading through an initiative called the Text Creation Partnership. Access to ECCO requires an institutional log-in; however, the ECCO-TCP files are available to people without institutional access to ECCO. These texts may also be accessible in bulk for text mining purposes. Those interested in acquiring the bulk full text are asked to request it individually to limit the negative effects of web scraping on project servers.

Free access to searches of full text

To locate relevant documents contained in ECCO, people without institutional access may perform searches on the full text and bibliographic information of ECCO through the interface offered by ECCO-TCP. Searches return bibliographic information and search terms in context.

In the U.S., Gale offers telephone support at 1-800-877-4253, press option 4 when prompted.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Part I and Part II, Frequently Asked Questions

Training to use ECCO

Search Functionality

Search tips PDF

Using Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online: Conducting Searches Video. (6:57)

Webinars
Advanced Search (1:56)
Basic Search (6:56)
Browsing (1:50)
Search History & Infomarks (1:42)

Articles and blog posts about search within ECCO

There was an extended discussion of search within ECCO (and EEBO) on the blog Early Modern Online Bibliography in March 2012.

Literary scholar Patrick Spedding wrote an article about the complexity of searches within ECCO making suggestions about the way that problems may be overcome. The New Machine: Discovering the Limits of ECCO. Summer 2011. Paywalled article.

Experience of UK users of ECCO

In the UK, database users at institutions with access to the JISC Historical Texts platform have a different search experience than users in the U.S. or others using the Gale ECCO standalone or Artemis platforms. The Historical Texts platform allows “conceptual searches.” In 2012, Kelly Centrelli wrote about the difference in search results between the platforms on The Long Eighteenth blog. Historical Texts was formerly called JISC Historic Books. The name was changed in June 2014.

Pedagogy with ECCO

Using ECCO in the Undergraduate Classroom: Reviewing Gale Cengage’s Trial Access, Anna Battigelli. Early Modern Online Bibliography. 21 December 2013.

Digital Editing with Undergraduates: Some Reflections, Stephen H. Gregg. digitalhumanistbeginner. 23 September 2013.

Teaching with ECCO, Anna Battigelli. Early Modern Online Bibliography. 17 August 2013.

Other resources about the Eighteenth Century

The Eighteenth-Century Book Tracker website created by Benjamin F. Pauley links to freely-available digital facsimiles of Eighteenth-Century texts.

MLA style

To cite online and electronic works, MLA style, see the guides at Research and Documentation Online, 5th edition, Diana Hacker.

Citing the digital

While digital resources are ubiquitous, comparatively few scholars cite them, preferring instead to cite the print version. Yet if digital sources are not cited, it is impossible for archives, university libraries, funders and other entities to know whether the collections are useful and should be expanded, or to make evidence-based arguments for future digitization of other materials. Jonathan Blaney of the Humanities Research Institute offers an egregious example of this, saying that 31 million page views of British History Online over a two-year period resulted in only 89 citations in Google Scholar and Scopus combined. Blaney asks scholars to embrace the principle—cite what you used.

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