Author Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849), for whom there are
entries in all of the resources discussed here.
Research in British and Irish history and literature
has become a great deal easier at Duke with the libraries' recent addition of
several major full-text databases that provide online access to primary sources
and biographies. Now, researchers have the full-text of books, newspaper
articles, diaries and letters at their fingertips, and they can perform far
more sophisticated and detailed searches of the contents than ever would have
been possible using print sources. History professor Susan Thorne writes,
"Teaching British history at Duke is a pedagogical dream come true. Our access
to primary sources has been greatly enhanced by recent acquisitions, which are
so usefully outlined in Perkins Subject Guide to British and Irish Studies.
Undergraduates do not need much specialized preparation to make their way via
the index through the Times
Digital Archive. And the rewards of reading contemporary coverage
of the events we are studying in class are tremendous." It should be noted that
because British influence extended throughout the world from the eighteenth to
the twentieth centuries, researchers and students of Africa, South Asia, Canada,
Australia and the American colonies also find these resources pertinent.
The database that is the most generally interesting and
useful for researchers in many different disciplines is the
Times Digital Archive,
containing the full-text of the
Times of London from 1785 to 1985, or from the French
Revolution to the Falklands War. The Archive comprises some ten million
digitized articles. The entire newspaper has been captured, with all articles,
advertisements and illustrations/photos divided into categories to facilitate
searching. Using keywords, researchers can search through the digital edition
of the Times
to retrieve facsimile images of either a specific article or a full page. It
is also possible to view the complete newspaper for a specific date.
Times newspaper archive is complemented by the
Times Literary Supplement
Centenary Archive 1902-1990.
This rich, easy-to-navigate database is ideal for students and researchers of
English literature and other humanities or social science subjects.
Unparalleled opportunities for tracking the literary activity and critical
opinion makers of the 20th century are now available in a powerful digital
environment. More than 250,000 reviews, letters, poems and articles from more
than 5,000 issues of the
TLS are available, and,
for the first time, the identities of anonymous contributors are disclosed.
Another new resource with multidisciplinary appeal is
the Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography, which is available to the Duke community both
online and in a print edition. The arrival of the print edition has been
described by the New York
Times as the "publishing event of the year—maybe of the decade."
The sixty-volume Oxford
Dictionary of National Biography is now on the shelves at Perkins
in the reference collection (920.041 O98, 2004). The Dictionary, whose
contributors include Duke's Cynthia Herrup and Dale Randall, contains
biographies of nearly 55,000 non-living people who are considered to have been
important to British history from the 4th century BC to the year 2001. This new
edition is much more inclusive than the previous one, which was published
between 1885 and 1900. Many more women are now represented as are notables from
British territories overseas, including Americans up to the time of the colonies'
independence. Following the more liberal editorial policy of the present
edition, the Dictionary encompasses the "great and good to the popular,
philanthropic, pioneering, social, curious or criminal."
Dictionary of National Biography
is also available online to Duke users at
http://www.oxforddnb.com/search/ (you will need to use the VPN when you connect
from off-campus). Guests can use the online service in any of the libraries.
The online edition of the Dictionary offers flexible searching options in
addition to personal name and full-text by keyword. There are categories such
as fields of interest or religious affiliation as well as themes such as
musical chart toppers, Oscar winners or Nobel Prize winners, and essays on
Of particular interest to history students is the
collection British and
Irish Women's Letters and Diaries from Alexander Street Press.
Users can search the online database by author, place, occupation, marital
status, personal event (for example, "pregnancy" or "death of a spouse") or
historical event (such as the Indian Mutiny of the Irish Famine). Entries are
still being added to the project, which upon completion will be the largest
collection of British and Irish women's diaries and correspondence every
Spanning four hundred years, the database delivers the
personal experiences of more than one thousand women to researchers, students,
and general readers. The uses for the collection will be many and varied. For
historians, sociologists, students of literature, researchers in genealogy, and
will prove a dramatic new resource. These diaries provide a detailed record of
what women wore, the conditions under which they worked, what they ate, what
they read, and how they amused themselves.
The finished collection will include approximately
100,000 pages of published letters and diaries from individuals writing from
the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, plus several thousand pages of
previously unpublished materials, and more than five hundred biographies.
Entries are drawn from more than one thousand sources, including journal
articles, pamphlets, newsletters, monographs, and conference proceedings, much
of the material is in copyright and represent all age groups and life stages,
all ethnicities, many geographical regions, the famous and the not so famous.
Finally, the Duke University Libraries have also
recently added Eighteenth
Century Collections Online (ECO), with digital images of every
page of 150,000 books published during the 18th century. Offering full-text
searching of approximately thirty-three million pages,
ECO gives researchers new means of access
to critical information in the fields of history, literature, religion, law,
fine arts, science and more. ECO
includes a variety of materials—from books and directories, Bibles, sheet music
and sermons to advertisements—and writings of many well-known and lesser-known
authors, all providing a diverse collection of material for the researcher of
the eighteenth century. There are works from women writers of the eighteenth
century; collections on the French Revolution; and numerous editions of the
works of Shakespeare. Multiple editions of each individual work are included,
which enables scholars to make textual comparisons of the works.
Margaret Brill, Head
Perkins Library Reference Department