Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO)

Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO). See also Artemis: Primary Sources.

NCCO is a curated compilation of primary source documents gathered and digitized from archives from around the world, focusing on eight major themes of the 19th century: Asia and the West; British Politics and Society; British Theatre, Music, and Literature; Corvey Collection of European Literature (1790-1840); Europe and Africa: Commerce, Christianity, Civilization, and Conquest; Photography: the World through the Lens; Science, Technology, and Medicine (1780-1925); and Women: Transnational Networks.

NCCONCCO is a massive database with a fairly elaborate structure. It can be difficult to get a complete picture of the extent of NCCO’s offerings because information about its content is not consistently represented in the database itself or on the publisher’s website.

Navigating NCCO and understanding its structure

Within NCCO, thematically organized large collections are called Archives. The grouping beneath the level of Archives in NCCO is called a Collection. Collections in NCCO may also contain other collections which we will refer to as subcollections.

To see detailed information about the content, click on Explore Collections from within NCCO. Choose an Archive by clicking in one of the boxes or by clicking on a Collection or subcollection. In some cases this will lead to a page with an option to see a titles list. For example, clicking on the Publication Titles tab of the Brittania subcollection in the Women and Transnational Networks Archive leads to a list that is browsable by year and month. However, the date range listed by the publisher is sometimes unreliable. For example, while the date range of Action Sociale De La Femme Et Le Livre Francaise is listed as 1936-1940, the date range of the Action Sociale items in the database is actually 1902-1939. Similarly, the newspaper Suffragette listed in the Brittania subcollection runs from 1912-1918, not 1800-1900 as noted in the publisher’s description.

To see titles lists that are much more detailed than those on the publisher’s titles list page, go to the Center for Research Libraries’ review of NCCO and click on the Appendix tab. “NCCO 7: Title List for Monographs, Periodicals, and Manuscripts” is a spreadsheet of the titles in the Women and Transnational Networks Archive. “NCCO 8 : Title List for Monographs, Periodicals, and Manuscripts” is a spreadsheet for titles in the Europe and Africa Archive. A benefit of using these titles lists is the ability to quickly scan content at a granular level. This is a faster way to view document descriptions rather than going through the items one at a time as they download on the website.

For documents related to women, besides the Women and Transnational Networks Archive, the Archive called The European Literature, 1790-1840: The Corvey Collection Archive may be of interest. According to the publisher’s description in NCCO, Corvey contains “1000 difficult-to-find works by lesser-known British women writers who were active during the Romantic period” as well as 500 works by women in French. In a description in NCCO, Stephen Behrendt of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln says that women writers in the Corvey Collection: were prolific, well-known, and widely read poets, novelists, and authors of nonfiction prose.

The publisher’s UK website is an additional source of information on the content in NCCO. The UK website has helpful factsheets about some of the Archives. According to a video about NCCO from the publisher, NCCO contains documents in 29 languages.

Learning to use NCCO

Because of NCCO’s size and complexity, it may be worthwhile for scholars to view brief tutorials from the publisher that explain search and certain affordances of the database. Click on the Info from Publisher tab in Beyond Citation for links to video tutorials and a telephone number for support. It is possible to select one of about 30 languages for the menus and links in the database (not translations of the documents themselves).

PDFs are images of documents

In the standalone version of NCCO, users may download only the image but not the text of documents on a PDF. The Image Viewer offers zoom, highlight, rotate, and reverse (negative) functions. The user may view individual pages in full screen mode and adjust brightness and contrast.

Getting full text of documents

If a user has access to Artemis: Primary Sources, a platform which may include NCCO, she may download the OCR’d full text of documents. For handwritten items that could not be OCR’d, Gale has increased the discoverability by manually keying names, places, and dates in manuscripts and photographs


Scholars seeking the provenance of a document should view the Full Citation. The Full Citation notes the source of the item and may indicate information such as a manuscript number. If the item has been digitized from microfilm, scroll down to the bottom of the page to Full Citation to see the microfilm reel number. For more information on the construction of NCCO, click on the History/Provenance tab in Beyond Citation.

Date range: 1540-1995

Publisher: Gale Cengage

Publisher About page:

Object type: Books, Journals, Newspapers, Images, Ephemera

Location of original materials: Multiple

Location of subject matter: North America, Africa; Europe; Russia; East Asia; Central America; South America, Middle East; Asia Minor (Turkey); Persia; India; Japan; China; Manchuria; Java; Siam (Thailand);Vietnam; Cambodia; Tibet; Burma; Korea; Formosa (Taiwan); Indonesia; Sumatra, East Indies; Singapore; Philippines; Australia; New Zealand; Tasmania; Antarctica; Arctic.

Exportable image: Yes

Facsimile image: Yes

Full text searchable: Yes

Titles list links: See the Overview tab in Beyond Citation for information on how to locate more detailed titles lists for portions of NCCO.

Provenance: To find the provenance of a document, look at the Full Citation. The Full Citation notes the source of the item and may indicate information such as a manuscript number. If the item has been digitized from microfilm, scroll down to the bottom of the page to Full Citation to see the microfilm reel number.

Original catalog: Multiple

Digitized from microfilm: some items

Original sources: Multiple

History: Ray Abruzzi, associate publisher of Gale Digital Collections, speaks about the process of building NCCO in this video. Climbing the Digital Everest: The Journey to Digitize the Nineteenth Century. (47:51)

Center for Research Libraries review. Updated March 21, 2014.

Brian Vetruba. Nineteenth Century Collections Online The Charleston Advisor 14.3 (2013): 35–40. Paywalled article.

Cheryl LaGuardia. eReviews: Nineteenth Century Collections Online Library Journal, 1 June 2012.

Bob Nicholson. First Look: Nineteenth Century Collections Online 6 June 2012.

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

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


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for video tutorials on the publisher’s site.

Document and Image View (2:28)
Personal Account Tool (2:59)
Searching (4:33)
Search Results (3:28)

Pedagogy with NCCO

James Mussell. Teaching Nineteenth-Century Periodicals Using Digital Resources: Myths and Methods Victorian Periodicals Review, 2012.

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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