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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

18th Century British Literature: Electronic Resources

Electronic Resources (Discover Primary Sources, Historical Sources, and Other Relevant Information)

UIUC Library

The UIUC Library provides access to a wide variety of electronic resources that can help you discover primary source materials, historically significant texts and periodicals, and other important information. On this page, you will find the electronic resources most suitable for your research in literature and its allied fields.

Simply decide which resource meets your needs. The tabbed box for each database walks you through each of the databases, how they work, and what you should do when you locate an item of interest.

For all other databases associated with English Literature, please visit A-Z Databases. Select the "Subject" most closely affiliated with your research or learning needs to discover relevant databases.


Search HathiTrust

Before you begin, Login to HathiTrust Digital Library. This will enable you to take advantage of all of its features and access its content.

HathiTrust Login

You can discover a variety of digitized texts in the HathiTrust Digital Library.

HathiTrust Search

Selecting "Advanced Full-Text Search", "Advanced Catalog Search" or "Search Tips" will enable you to refine and expand your inquiry according to your needs. 
Once you have decided which search option works best for you, type your search terms into the search bar and review your results.

HathiTrust Results


Get What You Need

Once you entered your search terms, you will discover a list of results.

HathiTrust Results

Select the result that best matches your research and learning needs, or that you find is particularly interesting.

HathiTrust Results

Click on the "Temporary Access" Link to read the text.

Women Writers Project

About Women Writers Project

Women Writers Online is a full-text collection of early women’s writing in English, published by the Women Writers Project at Northeastern University. It includes full transcriptions of texts published between 1526 and 1850, focusing on materials that are rare or inaccessible. The range of genres and topics covered makes it a truly remarkable resource for teaching and research, providing an unparalleled view of women’s literate culture in the early modern period.

Women Writers Project Basic Search

The Basic Search is a keyword search function. In this example search we've used Poetry as a keyword. The list of results is on the right. Below the search bar are options to refine, or filter. The search results can be filtered by Genre and Date. This search returned over 100 results, but choosing a genre may get us closer to what we were looking for, selecting Verse, seems like a good option.  

Women Writers Project Advanced Search

The Advanced Search function is located under the Basic Search, clicking on it brings up a pop up search box as shown below. The Advanced Search allows for a more specific search, title, author, years and keywords can be used.

In the example search, the keyword poetry and the title word female was used. This returned a manageable list of 10 search results. However it may not have returned the results we intended, as it pulled poetry from the full text, instead of the keywords.  The Advanced Search results can also be refined by Genre and Date.

Analyzing Results 

Because our keyword search for poetry, with female in the title brought back results that included the word poetry instead of works that were poetry (though some of them were also verse), this search wasn't as successful as it could have been. Using the Advanced Search function and putting female in title and then selecting Verse from the list of results refine options, will likely provide a closer approximation of what we were looking for- poetry about women.

Accessing Content

Accessing content on the WWP is a simple process. Just click on the title of the work you would like to access and the full text will pull up on the right side of the page. 

Eighteenth Century Collections Online

About ECCO

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) is a vast eighteenth-century library at your desktop—a fully text-searchable corpus of books, pamphlets and broadsides in all subjects printed between 1701 and 1800. It currently contains over 180,000 titles amounting to over 32 million fully-searchable pages.

Basic Search

The basic search tool for ECCO can be found on the main page in the top left corner, shown below. 


In this basic search example, we're looking for Scottish poetry. Gale is very helpful, and will suggest terms to use as you're entering keywords into the search. As shown below, the results will be listed, and you can sort by relevance, document title, author, and oldest and newest. We've chosen to sort them by relevance. Over the image result, is an option to view a Keyword Preview, which always you to see your search terms in the context of the document. This is useful for determining if the keywords are returning the type of results you were looking for. 


If you would like to narrow your search results, there are filter options to the right of the results list. The subjects option is particularly useful and a good way to narrow the search to related terms.  For our example search it provided several useful search alternatives, like Scottish Gaelic Literature, and specific Scottish poets. 

Advanced Search

The Advanced Search is located under the Basic Search bar on the home page. The Advanced Search function allows for keyword searching, searching by title words, place of publication, publisher, author and subject. The search can also be refined by date, collection and language. 


Here is a list of results from our example search, we used Witches and Magic as keywords. It returned 26 results. To the right, are several options for refining a search, here we have the Subjects option opened. This shows the different subjects that the results fall into, and can help narrow down the list. It may also provide inspiration for a new search using the related terms suggested by the database. 

Analyze Results

Here is our list of results from our search using the keywords Magic and Witches. After reviewing the list of results, its easier to understand how the database is retrieving them. For our next search it may be necessary to try a subject search with our terms to see if we can get a wider selection of results. We could also use one or multiple of the terms found under the list of Subjects our search generated. A subject search using the term Witchcraft, for example may bring up results more closely linked to our intended search result. 


Another way to refine and analyze your results, is by using the Topic Finder and/or the Term Frequency tools. These are located in the results list under the Filter Results options (which are shown above). 

Access Content 

Accessing Content in ECCO is easy, from the results list simply click on the title that you would like to review. The page will look similar to the one shown below. From here you can read the document, or you can send, download, print, or get the link to the content. You can also search within the document. 

Eighteenth Century Drama: Censorship, Society and the Stage

About Resource

A unique archive of almost every play submitted for licence between 1737 and 1824, and hundreds of documents that provide social context for the plays, featuring:

  • John Larpent Collection of Plays from the Huntington Library
  • Supplementary documents including Anna Larpent Diaries
  • The London Stage, 1660-1800
  • A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800

Basic Search


Advanced Search

Analyze Results 

Access Content

British Periodicals

About Resource

This database provides access to the searchable full text of hundreds of periodicals from the late seventeenth century to the early twentieth, comprising millions of high-resolution facsimile page images. Topics covered include literature, philosophy, history, science, the social sciences, music, art, drama, archaeology and architecture.

Basic Search

The British Periodicals Basic Search can be accessed via the homepage, shown below. For help forming search terms, scroll down to see more information on the databases holdings, including a list of periodical titles, and subjects covered. 

Advanced Search 

The Advanced Search option is located above the Basic Search bar on the main page. The Advanced Search option allows for more detailed searching. Searches can be refined by publication subject, title, document type, document features (like illustrations), and place of publication. 

In our example search, we used the term Burials, searched within three Archaeological Publications, and limited the articles to those written between the years 1770 to 1829. 


Analyze Results 

Our search for information on burials from three different Archaeological Publications, between the years 1170-1829, brought back 142 results. Our search terms, chosen publications, and years of publication, are highlighted in the search results. Looking through the results list we can decide if this search brought back what we were hoping to find, or if it needs more refining. 

Access Content

Accessing content is simple, from the list of search results, click on the title of the work you would like to review to be taken to the full text. 

Eighteenth Century Journals

About Resource

Bringing together rare journals printed between c.1685 and 1835, this resource illuminates all aspects of eighteenth-century social, political and literary life. Topics covered are wide-ranging and include colonial life, provincial and rural affairs, the French and American revolutions, reviews of literature and fashion throughout Europe, political debates, and London coffee house gossip and discussion.

Basic Search

The Basic Search is easily accessed on the main page of the database. It includes a brief overview of the topics covered. For more information on what the database holds, which may be helpful in formulating search terms, look through the Quick Links to the right of the search bar. The Nature and Scope link will be helpful for understanding search possibilities, and the Page by Page Guide is particularly useful for understanding the databases functionality and accessing content. 


Advanced Search

The Advanced Search is located at the top right corner of the main database page. Clicking on it brings you to a search page like the one show below.  Multiple keywords can be added in this search. Each keyword term can either be from anywhere, or from specific sources like the title, editor, or place of publication. Searches can be refined by date range, and filtered by library.  

In our example search, we're looking for information on the Revolutionary War. We've used the search terms, War, America, and London. With the date range set to 1770-1790. 


Analyze Results

Our search for information on the Revolutionary War has returned 56 results. This list of results includes the publications in which our search terms appear. The results can be further refined by Module, or by Library/Archive. 

Access Content

To Access Content, click on the title of the publication in the search results list. This will take you to a list of "hits," brought up by your search terms. In the example below, The publication is The London Mercury and the database has provided the pages that include our search terms within the years stipulated. There are several ways to see the search term in context, click on the link for each "hit," click on a thumbnail page, or download the entire document as a PDF. 

Eighteenth Century Fiction

About Resource

A collection of 96 complete works of English prose from the period 1700–1780 by writers from the British Isles. Key figures covered include Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, Eliza Haywood, Samuel Richardson, Tobias Smollett, Laurence Sterne and Jonathan Swift. In addition to a scanned version of Sterne's Tristram Shandy, the collection also contains two different editions of Richardson's Clarissa and Pamela, and of Swift's Gulliver's Travels.

Basic Search 

The Basic Search is easily locatable on the main page of the database, shown here below. Enter simple search terms, like author name, title, genre, or type of work (novel, poem, satire etc.).  

Advanced Search 

The Advanced Search option is located above the Basic Search bar on the main page. The Advanced Search option allows for more detailed searching. Searches can be refined by author nationality, ethnicity, gender, the years they lived, and type of work.  


In this example search, we have searched for works using the terms Fairy and Magic, written by a woman, who is Irish or Scottish. 

Analyze Results 

Our search using the terms fairy and magic, by a female author from Ireland or Scotland, turned up 7 results. The search terms have been highlighted here in the results, showing that they were found in the text.  However, the titles of these works suggest that the subject, may not be fairies or magic. This search may still need more refining, or the texts further review to see if they fit our needs.

Access Content

Accessing content is simple, from the list of search results, click on the title of the work you would like to review to be taken to the full text.  

British Literary Manuscripts Online

About British Literary Manuscripts Online

British Literary Manuscripts Online presents facsimile images of literary manuscripts, including letters and diaries, drafts of poems, plays, novels, and other literary works, and similar materials. Searching is based on tags and descriptive text associated with each manuscript. Images of the complete manuscript can be viewed, manipulated and navigated on screen. Please note that the text of the manuscripts themselves is not searchable.

British Literary Manuscripts Online has been created from the microfilm collections sourced from institutions including the British Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the National Library of Scotland, Princeton University, and the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Searching British Literary Manuscripts Online

As mentioned previously, the full text of manuscript images is not searchable. But plenty of information related to the manuscript is. Searching is based on tags and descriptive text associated with each manuscript. This allows you to search by authorlanguage, nationality, date, and more. 

British Literary Manuscripts Online is published in two parts: Medieval and Renaissance and c. 1660-1900. Basic Search allows you to search all parts or limit your results to one or the other. If you wish to narrow your results further, you may limit your results to a specific century. 

After your initial search, you can narrow your results by selecting the specific Author, Document Type, Century, or Source Library that you are looking for. 

Advanced Search in British Literary Manuscripts Online

BLMO provides you with two different ways to narrow your results. At the top of the page, you can search by Author, Work Title, Document Type, Manuscript Number, Person (as in subject of manuscript), Gale Document Number, and Previous Searches. This type of search is ideal if you are searching for a specific item and you know one or more of these details. 

Below this search box, you'll find other options to narrow your results by year, source library, collection, and more. 

Analyze Results in British Literary Manuscripts Online

A basic search for Charlotte Brontë will yield many results in BLMO. 


But if you are interested in her correspondence in particular, you can limit by document type and see only her letters. 

Access Content in British Literary Manuscripts Online

Accessing content in BLMO is fairly straightforward. Select the manuscript you wish to view, and then click "View Manuscript." 

From here, you may also view the full citation and browse the manuscript as thumbnail images.