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English: Primary Materials

Individual Authors

Ben Jonson Online The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson Online presents a complete reappraisal of this major Renaissance writer, complementing and extending the seven-volume print edition of Jonsons works published in 2012. It offers a clear sense, afforded by no other previous edition, of the shape, scale, and variety of the entire Jonsonian canon. At the same time, it is the first edition to use digital technology to give a dynamic insight into Jonsons processes of composition and to reveal the editorial choices which underpin the modernized text.

Oxford Scholarly Editions Online--William Shakespeare Oxford Scholarly Editions Online--William Shakespeare--the database provides an interlinked collection of authoritative Oxford editions of Shakespeare's works. Each title within the Shakespeare collection presents the full text of the work, as established by an authoritative editor, accompanied by the editors record of important variations in that text, and interpretative and explanatory notes. Most also have introductions placing the work and the author in a historical context, and explaining the editorial principles and the history of the text.

The Diary of Samuel Pepys This site provides links to the seventeenth century diary of Samuel Pepys and many useful secondary materials. 

American Literature

Accessible Archives Full-text of Godey's Ladys Book (1830-1880), The Pennsylvania Gazette (1728-1880), The Civil War: Newspaper Perspective (1861-1865), African American Newspapers: the 19th century. Full Text.

American Civil War: Letters and Diaries The American Civil War: Letters and Diaries knits together more than 400 sources of diaries, letters, and memoirs to provide fast access to thousands of views on almost every aspect of the war, including what was happening at home. The writings of politicians, generals, slaves, landowners, farmers, seaman, wives, and even spies are included. The letters and diaries are by the famous and the unknown, giving not only both the Northern and Southern perspectives, but those of foreign observers also. The materials originate from all regions of the country and are from people who played a variety of roles. The collection includes approximately 100,000 pages of published memoirs, letters and diaries from individuals plus 4,000 pages of previously unpublished materials. Drawn from more than 400 sources, the collection provides in-depth coverage of all aspects of the war. More than 1,000 biographies will enhance the use of the database.

American Film Scripts Online This edition of American Film Scripts Online (AFSO) contains 265 scripts by 334 writers together with detailed, fielded information on the scenes, characters and people related to the scripts. When complete, the collection will include more than 1,000 scripts and over 100,000 scenes of life as portrayed in the movies.

American Slavery: A Composite Autobiography Contains the collection of over 2,000 interviews conducted in seventeen states between 1936 and 1983 under the Federal Writers' Project of the Work Progress Administration, as published in 1972 in The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography edited by George P. Rawick. The site contains links to the narratives and Rawick's analysis of the collection, From Sundown to Sunup: The Making of the Black Community. Each entry links to an Adobe PDF version of the narrative as contained in the Rawick print collection, including any handwritten editorial comments made at the time.

Black Abolitionist Papers Black Abolitionist Papers--This collection offers access to a unique set of primary sources from African Americans actively involved in the movement to end slavery in the United States between 1830 and 1865. The content includes letters, speeches, editorials, articles, sermons, and essays from libraries and archives in England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and the United States.

Colonial State Papers Provides access to thousands of papers concerning English activities in the American, Canadian, and West Indian colonies between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.

Early American Imprints: Series I, Evans 1639-1800 Representing millions of pages this database is founded on Charles Evans renowned American Bibliography, 1639-1800. The collection encompasses virtually every book, pamphlet and broadside published in America over a 160-year span. In doing so the databases offers an unparalleled view of Colonial America and the Early Republic

Early American Imprints: Series II, Shaw-Shoemaker 1801-1819 This database comprehends more than four million pages derived from over 36,000 sources. It is founded on Ralph Shaw and Richard Shoemaker's comprehensive American Bibliography, 1800-1819, and is a marvelous complement to Series I.

Early Encounters in North America: Peoples, Cultures, and the Environment The database offers a wide range of images and full-text materials relating to the early exploration and settlement of North America. The collection has been compiled by consulting a number of bibliographies, including: A Biobibliography of Native American Writers, 1772-1924 by Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr. and James W. Parins. Sources for the ethnography of northeastern North America to 1611, by David B. Quinn. The French image of America: a chronological and subject bibliography of French books printed before 1816 relating to the British North American colonies and the United States by Durand Echeverria and Everett C. Wilkie, Jr. Wagner & Camp's The Plains and the Rockies, a critical bibliography of exploration, adventure and travel in the American West, 1800-1865. Robert Rogers Hubach's Early Midwestern Travel Narratives, An Annotated Bibliography, 1634-1850., (, a full-text online collection that contains documents about Canada's history from the first European contact to the nineteenth century. Bibliography of Native North Americans, Human Relations Area Files, 1976.

Gilded Age The Gilded Age brings primary documents and scholarly commentary together into a searchable collection that is the definitive electronic resource for students and scholars researching this important period in American history. In addition to an extensive selection of key treatises that reflect the social and cultural ferment of the late nineteenth century, The Gilded Age offers a wealth of rare materials, including songs, letters, photographs, cartoons, government documents, and ephemera. This primary content is enhanced by video interviews with scholars and numerous topical critical documentary essays specially commissioned for the project by Alexander Street Press. Covering such themes as race, labor, immigration, commerce, western expansion, and women’s suffrage, these essays illuminate the rapidly changing cultural landscape of America during the decades between the end of the Civil War and the election of Theodore Roosevelt.

Harp Week HarpWeek is a database of images and indexing to the 19th century issues of Harper's Weekly. At present the Civil War Era: 1857-1865 is complete. HarpWeek has begun indexing Reconstruction: 1866-1877, which will be the second segment of a project that will ultimately provide users with a cumulative index from 1857 through 1900. Full Text. Harper's Monthly began in June 1850. The database can be searched by date, indexes (Subject, Illustrations, Literature & Publishing, Advertising), Literary genre, or occupation/role.

Hathi Trust Hathi Trust--a repository of digitized books and serials drawn from major academic and research collections from throughout the United States. The database is immense in scope and crosses all disciplinary boundaries. It is particularly valuable in offering full text access to primary sources and materials.

North American Women's Letters and Diaries North American Women's Letters and Diaries--records the immediate experiences of 1,325 women and 150,000 pages of diaries and letters. The materials have been carefully chosen using leading bibliographies, supplemented by customer requests and more than 7,000 pages of previously unpublished material. The collection also includes biographies and an extensive annotated bibliography of the sources in the database.

British Literature



Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels This is the first scholarly online collection for researchers and students of adult comic books and graphic novels. The collection when complete will feature 75,000 pages of primary materials (the comics themselves), and more than 25,000 ancillary support materials.


Nickels and Dimes  This NIU created collection presently provides access to over 1600 dime novels and counting. This represents the largest digital collection of these materials in the country. Dime novels were a format of inexpensive popular literature produced in the United States from 1860 through 1915. Available for as little as a nickel or as much as a dime, they opened up leisure reading for the masses in a way previously not possible. 


Inter-Play An index to plays in anthologies, collections, and periodicals. Updated bi-monthly. Abstracts Only.

Theatre in Video Contains more than 250 definitive performances of the world's leading plays, together with more than 100 film documentaries, online in streaming video - more than 500 hours in all, representing hundreds of leading playwrights, actors and directors.


American Film Scripts Online This edition of American Film Scripts Online (AFSO) contains 265 scripts by 334 writers together with detailed, fielded information on the scenes, characters and people related to the scripts. When complete, the collection will include more than 1,000 scripts and over 100,000 scenes of life as portrayed in the movies.

Subject Guide