EEBO/ECCO Project: Using Online Archives

Because much of the literature of the Restoration is not in modern editions (or even considered “literature” in traditional terms) scholars of the long eighteenth century (1660-1790) often refer to primary materials, that is the newspapers, diaries, journals, first edition plays, and books themselves.  The purpose of this project is to give you a feel for the kind of primary research that scholars often do.  This paper and presentation may be completed in lieu of the final exam and is worth 30% of your final grade.

Assignment:  Browse through ECCO or EEBO and find and print out a short piece of primary text, anywhere from 10-30 pages (it can be a smaller section of a larger text).  In a 5-7 page paper, analyze an issue in your chosen text. Incorporate scholarly articles and arguments into your paper.  Turn in the paper and the printout together.

Some requirements:

  • Your paper must be analytical; it should not be a research report, but a critical argument.
  • You should make a conference with me by Week 3 to discuss a topic.
  • You must turn in a one-page prospectus (paper plan) by Week 5.
  • You will present on your topic, between 5-10 minutes.

Strong papers will:

  • Be well planned and well organized.  Be between 5-7 pages long.
  • Have a controlling idea (a clear thesis statement), be coherent (what you write should make sense), and be cohesive (your ideas should “stick” together logically).
  • Use the space to analyze the text in terms of the assignment—avoid plot summary or only reporting what others have said or only comparing two works.  Analyze!
  • Use specific examples from the text to support your point and critically analyze them.
  • Have well-developed paragraphs and sentences.
  • Be properly formatted according to MLA standards, including a works cited, (refer to an MLA Style guide to check proper formatting).  Staple your paper together.
  • Be proofread and mechanically correct (no typos, no misspelled words, use correct grammar, punctuate properly etc.)
  • Be enjoyable to read.  This is best accomplished by exploring an idea that interests you.

Helpful hints:

  • See below to remind you how to access ECCO and EEBO.
  • To help narrow your research, you may wish to focus on authors or genres that we have already discussed in class.  Browse your anthologies for ideas.  See below for suggestions.  See me for help if you are stuck.
  • Be sure that you choose text that can be analyzed and written about in some way.  (For instance, there are catalogues of books that simply list book titles.  Such an entry will not be easy to analyze.  Poems, fiction, journals, etc. will be easier.)
  • Give yourself time to do the project and the paper; at least two to three weeks to research, write, and revise.
  • As always, please feel free to come to my office hours or to email me a sample thesis statement or a section of your paper.

How to Access EEBO (Early English Books Online) and ECCO (Eighteenth Century Collections Online)

  1. Go to the Ingram Library homepage
  2. Click on “Databases”
  3. Click on “History”
  4. Scroll down to EEBO and ECCO
  5. Click on desired database

The following are some topics that you might be interesting in exploring.  Remember to also browse your favorite author from the syllabus.  You are not limited to these ideas.

Execution confessions

Trials at the Old Bailey

Conduct books (advice manuals)

Periodicals and/or newspapers

Eighteenth-century entertainment

Doctors/medicine/medical practice and advice

Fashion and clothing

Restoration politics

The Coffee House

Tea, chocolate, coffee


Alcohol (especially gin and beer)

Gardening/Housekeeping (also known as Husbandry) manuals

Science/scientific inquiry (looking through microscopes, for instance, was a fashionable hobby)

Theatre and theatre-going (reviews, lives of actors etc.)