Posted by: Amanda Rust
Through lots of hard work from the University of Michigan Libraries and support from the Gale publishing company, over 2,200 fully-searchable 18th-century texts have been made freely available through 18th Century Connect, an excellent collection of online, peer-reviewed resources in the 18th century.
Why is this such a big deal? Isn’t everything on Google Books? In a word, no. These texts are hard-to-find and typically not available anywhere else. In addition, 18th-century spelling and typography are so different from ours, and so non-standard, that machines have a hard time automatically reading and understanding these texts. So every single text had to be re-typed and correctly coded to allow analysis by modern computers.
Until now, these texts were only available through an expensive personal or institutional purchase. But this subset has now been released into the wild, which is very exciting news for humanists — see for yourself at 18th Century Connect.