Digital Humanities Database Links


This list is far from exhaustive, but it gives some idea of what’s available.


1.    Metadata and General


Early Modern Digital Agendas:

Folger Institute projects. Some of them are listed below, but for a complete list (not all early modern) see:


Early Modern Hub:

This is a one-person show by Sharon Howard, maintaining a list of links to open-access online resources for early modernists.


Google Books:

Don’t knock it! There is a surprising amount of early modern literature available on full view (along with a frustrating amount that does not even offer a preview). I just searched for a Latin text (Otto Brunfels’ Onomasticon medicinae, 1543) and found three different copies, all with full view!


Internet Archive:

People often seem to overlook this, but it has a huge amount of material. For texts, it’s best on 19th-century material, but there’s a lot of 19th-century scholarship on the early modern period that’s sinking into oblivion, and there are some real gems here, along with later editions of early modern material, which can be very revealing in themselves.


National Archives:

The starting point for almost anything to do with civic life. This site will tell you where to find the records for who was in the Gatehouse prison in the 1650s, or the names of Members of Parliament in Cornwall at the beginning of the 17th century, etc., etc.


University of Oxford Text Archive (OTA):

Comprehensive links to resources, some of which are unrestricted, but many require a log-in.


2.    Early Modern Resources (Manuscripts and Printed Texts)


a)     General Resources


British Literary Manuscripts Online, Medieval and Renaissance:

A Gale resource, so log-in is required. Even so, adroit use of the portal ( can at least identify and locate material. Free trial available.


Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts 1450–1700 (CELM):

Probably the database of first choice for locating manuscripts. Detailed catalogue entries for 37,000+ manuscripts.


Corpus Query Processor (CQP):

A University of Lancaster initiative. Free log-in on request to gain limited access. The best part of this is for early modernists is the Early English Books Online V2 and V3, but these can’t be accessed with a regular log-in and one has to be attached to a participating institution. If one can gain access, one can do such things as analyze the EEBO corpus according to genre.

OK, so that’s the bad news. The good news is that a regular log-in gives one access to the Corpus of English Dialogues (qv), the Lancaster Newsbooks Corpus (which only covers part of 1654 so far, but is still well worthwhile) and the Shakespeare First Folio, along with other resources not related to the early modern period.



Chadwyck Healey portal for Early English Books Online. Log-in needed.



University of Michigan portal for the Text Creation Partnership database. No log-in needed.



The English Short-Title Catalogue. No log-in required.


Private Libraries in Renaissance England (PLRE):

An ongoing Folger project, giving an indispensable insight into patterns of early modern book ownership. No log-in required.


b)     Resources for Specific Genres/Topic Areas


Broadside Ballads Online:

A Bodleian Library resource. Comprehensive catalogue of broadsheets, together with PDF files.


Corpus of English Dialogues 1560-1760 (CED):

An Oxford Text Archive project. A 1.2-million-word database, about 500,000 of which are authentic dialogue, taken from trial proceedings and witness depositions, and some 700,000 are constructed dialogue, taken from drama and other prose sources. A free log-in can be obtained via the Lancaster Corpus Query Processor (qv), or one can apply directly to Oxford Text Archive to download the database.


Database of Early English Playbooks (DEEP):

Built up from ESTC, EEBO and other sources. Basically a detailed catalogue.


Digital Quaker Collection (DQC):

Searchable database of 17th- & 18th-century Quaker texts.


Early Modern Letters Online:

This project does for letters what ESTC does for printed texts. It is basically a detailed catalogue, often with an abstract of the contents, but not full transcripts.


English Handwriting 1500-1700:

A cornucopia of resources! An essential tool for anyone working with manuscript material.


The Full English (Folk Songs)

Transcripts of over 44,000 folk songs, searchable by title and first line (as well as by performer, etc.). Full-text PDFs of manuscripts and printed songs, some with scores, others plain text. Most of the material postdates the early modern period as such, but much of it may go back to early modern roots.


Hooke’s Books:

A searchable transcription of the books in Robert Hooke’s library.


Lost Plays Database:

Searchable database of information relating to plays that are no longer extant.


Post-Reformation Digital Library

Theology and philosophy, full-text; based on EEBO.


Private libraries in Renaissance England

A wonderful resource supplementing the printed volumes.


Records of Early English Drama:

Historical documents relating to the theatre. Also has a fine set of links.


Spencer’s Letters:

Transcripts of diplomatic and other papers relating to Spencer’s years in Ireland. For other related Spencer links see


William Corbett’s bookshop:

A project building on the ESTC and EEBO TCP databases and showing the contents of a seventeenth-century bookshop based on a 1626 inventory of its stock. The link doesn’t seem to work for some reason, but it turns up easily enough in a Google keyword search. No log-in required.


3.    Mixed/Languages other than English:


Ancient Greece and Rome


Perseus Digital Library:

Greek & Latin. Mainly useful for Greek and Latin texts, but also has Arabic, German, Italian and other material.


Perseus Word Study Tool:

Greek & Latin. Part of previous. Invaluable guide to Greek and Latin words (also Arabic and Old Norse), with full explanations of inflected forms, copious examples, etc.




Bibliothèques Virtuelles Humanistes (CSR [Centre d'études Supérieures de la Renaissance]):




German. Comprehensive links for online resources.



German. Great for translating Middle High German into modern German.




Biblioteca Virtuale Online (Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento · SIGNUM):

Italian. Digitized texts.





Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes:

Spanish. Includes a large collection of early modern material.




Digitized Rare Books from Swiss Libraries





Annotated Books Online:

Annotated copies of early modern books in Latin, Arabic, Dutch, English, etc. 94 books scanned so far. Free registration.



4.    Resources in Fields other than Literature





Tracking down images and artwork. This often succeeds where Google Images fails.


Google Images:

The URL search is particularly useful for tracking down the original source of images posted on the web.


Web Gallery of Art:

Extensive searchable database, particularly good on Renaissance art, with a browsable list of painters. Open access.




British History Online:

Primary and secondary sources mainly for the period 1300-1800.


London before the Great Fire (animated 3D reconstruction):

A very atmospheric reconstruction.




Early Modern Practitioners:

Searchable database of doctors and medicine.




Inventories & Databases for Early Music Sources:


Medieval and Renaissance Music Resources:




Atlas of Early Printing:

A bit shaky in its performance, but gives a very clear idea of the spread of printing during the 15th century.




Calvinism Resources Database:


Who were the Nuns?

Convent records.



5.    Techie Stuff


Reference Guide for the British National Corpus:

The British National Corpus ( is a database of spoken and written modern English, so it is not directly relevant to early modernists. However, the principles on which it is organized underlie other databases. Not for beginners!


Text Encoding Initiative:

This is another specialized site, for people who are actively working on database construction. Useful stuff, but not for beginners!


Zoho drag and drop:

Possibly the easiest way to get started on creating databases. Two-week free