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Early American Imprints, Series I

Evans, 1639-1800

Virtually every book, pamphlet and broadside printed in early America
Learn what makes this product unique
  • Nearly 38,000 books, pamphlets and broadsides published in America during the 17th and 18th centuries
  • Essential primary documents for teaching and researching nearly every aspect of early America
  • Subjects range from history, literature and culture to politics, government, and society

Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800, has been hailed as the definitive resource for teaching and researching nearly every aspect of 17th- and 18th-century America. This incomparable digital collection contains virtually every book, pamphlet and broadside published in the United States over a 160-year period. Providing complete digital editions of nearly 38,000 printed works, Series I offers an incomparable glimpse into culture, politics and literature of the period before, during, and after the nation’s founding.

Wide-ranging teaching and research applications
Each of the printed works in Series I is expertly indexed, allowing researchers at all levels to jumpstart research and quickly navigate results by genre, subject, author, history of printing, place of publication or language. Major subjects include economics and trade, government, health, historic events, labor, languages, law and crime, literature, military, peoples, philosophy, politics, religion, science and technology, society, manners and customs, and theology.

Subject areas may be further refined by dozens of relevant topics. Under the subject heading, “Historic Events,” for example, researchers are one click away from primary sources on King Philip’s War, the Boston Massacre and the Whiskey Rebellion. Within “Politics,” researchers will find links to works on abolition, corruption, election law, nationalism, refugees, suffrage and many other frequently researched topics. Other in-depth topics include agriculture, capital punishment, child rearing, commerce, diseases, education, foreign affairs, Native Americans, medicine, military operations, religion, the institution of slavery, temperance, trials, witchcraft, women and hundreds more.

Every genre of literature from the 17th and 18th centuries
Early American Imprints, Series I features a breadth of genres printed by early Americans. Among them are advertisements, allegories, almanacs, autobiographies, ballads, bibles, captivity narratives, cookbooks, diaries, elegies, eulogies, hymns, imaginary voyages, narratives, novels, operas, plays, poems, primers, sermons, songs, speeches, textbooks, tracts, travel literature and many others.

Based on renowned bibliographies
Early American Imprints, Series I, is based on Charles Evans’ renowned American Bibliography and Roger Bristol’s critical supplement. Along with Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801-1819—the essential complement to Series I—Readex offers a range of additional imprints in supplemental collections.

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Take a step toward access for your library
“I can turn my students loose in this collection and let their historical imaginations run wild.”
John Fea, Assistant Professor of American History, Messiah College
Areas of Study
This product supports the following subjects
American Studies
British & European Studies
Childhood Studies
Literature & Theater
Native American Studies
Religion & Theology
STEM History
US History
Title List
Reviews & Accolades

"Early American Imprints I and II, a complementary pairing that includes over 70,000 titles and almost 7 million pages, spans 180 years of American history, literature, and culture. ... Part of the Readex Archive of Americana series of comprehensive digital research collections, Early American Imprints...give researchers a comprehensive picture of American history and life…

"Evans derives from the microform editions of the 36,000 items identified and described in the classic American Bibliography of Charles Evans and the supplement produced by Roger Bristol. Evans provides full-image access to virtually every book (from almanacs to cookbooks to textbooks), pamphlet and broadside published in America over the course of 160 years, along with advertisements, legal materials (contracts, charters and bylaws, legislation and treaties), creative works (poems, songs, plays), religious works (the Bible, sermons, eulogies), and nearly every other form of published communication on every sort of subject that was part of the culture of the time. In all, Evans includes some 2.3 million pages of digitized images.

"Shaw-Shoemaker chronicles a nation on the move. While covering just 20 years, this product clearly demonstrates that the information explosion was well underway by 1801. The collection, based on the bibliographic work of Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, contains as many items, and nearly twice the number of pages, as Evans does. In addition to finding the wide mix of publications included in Evans, users of Shaw-Shoemaker will also begin to see the appearance of many works from European authors along with a variety of governmental materials including state papers, Presidential letters, and Congressional, state, and territorial resolutions.

"Both sets include items that were not previously available as part of the microform editions.

"Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker share a common interface with each other (as well as with other Archive of Americana products, for example, American Broadsides and Ephemera). Connecting to either resource in Browse mode, researchers will see a Quick Search box accompanied by a pull-down menu that allows them to specify that the search term can be found in the citation, in the text, or in one of several fields, including Title, Subjects, Genres, Author, Place of Publication, Publisher, Document Number or Year of Publication...

"Just below the Quick Search box, searchers will see a series of tabs—Genre, Subjects, Author, History of Printing (i.e., Booksellers, Printers, and Publishers), Place of Publication and Language—and columns of terms relating to whichever tab has been selected. Genre, with about 90 terms, gives users their first inkling that they are about to do some time-traveling. While there are genres that would always spark some interest—Advertisements, Diaries, Genealogies, Maps, Memoirs, Satires—there are others that sound irresistible—Captivity narratives, Erotica, Hieroglyphic Bibles, Imaginary voyages and Library rules, among them."
Gail Golderman & Bruce Connolly, Union College in netConnect, E-Reviews (April 15, 2008)

“Another valuable installment in the Archive of Americana. … Like the first series of Early American Imprints (Evans) … Shaw-Shoemaker represents a major digitization effort to make widely available 36,000 books, broadsides, papers, government documents, and other printed texts, which were identified in the 22 volumes of the original printed set (Shaw and Shoemaker, 1958-1966). Shaw-Shoemaker covers an important gap in American bibliographic studies between the Evans checklist, which ends in 1800, and Roorbach’'s checklist, which starts in 1820. The digital edition takes the texts previously offered by Readex in microcard or microfiche and now presents them in an online format that allows browsing and detailed searching… Historians, American studies and literature scholars, students and anyone interested in the political history or the history of printing in the Americas will find this collection, along with the other digitized collections in the Archive of Americana, an essential tool for research with primary sources.

“Like the Evans database, Shaw-Shoemaker provides many access points to the digitized texts within the collection that can assist researchers and students seeking specialized publications from the period. The indexing of each text is quite extensive, and facilitates rather sophisticated browsing. Users can use convenient tabs to browse the collection by Genre, Subject, Author, the History of Printing, Place of Publication and Language. The Genres section includes 84 separate categories ranging from Autobiographies and Ballads to Slave Narratives and Treaties. Such detailed classification will be of great value to both the experienced and novice researcher seeking to gain an understanding of the range of publications produced during the early years of the American Republic.

“One of the best features of this product that impresses this reviewer is the ease with which users can view the pages at different scales, print them and download them. The page can be viewed at up to 300 per cent magnification, displayed in TIFF or PDF formats, displayed without the frames for printing, and individual pages can be selected for downloading. The images are quite clear and legible compared to other databases of digitized images from traditional formats such as microfilm…

Early American Imprints, Series II is a vital continuation of the Early American Imprints, Series I collection, and… a vital resource for libraries seeking to provide comprehensive access to the universe of printed works from the early history of the United States.”
— David D. Oberhelman, Associate Professor, Oklahoma State University in Reference Reviews (2005)

“Highly recommended.”
— Jeanetta Drueke, Associate Professor/Liaison Librarian, University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Choice (Nov. 2004)

“Full-text searching with images of these works gives scholars unprecedented access to a collection of documents key to U.S. history. The tabbed searches provided on the main screen will more than suffice for most researchers, since major topics likely to be researched, such as Boston Massacre, 1770, or Tea Tax (American Colonies), can be retrieved there. With the covered works ranging from the noteworthy (The Federalist) to the everyday (a recipe for carrot pudding, among other dishes, in Amelia Simmons' 1800 work American Cookery), researchers will be able to find items of interest that could previously only be found by scouring through screens of microfiche images.”
— Ken Black, Director of Teaching and Learning Technology, Dominican University in Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin (November 1, 2004)

“More than convenience is at issue here. The Evans Digital inspires ideas. Without even trying, I find myself getting deliciously lost in the Evans Digital site in the same way that one can become lost in the stacks of a library. … Those who criticize technological change do so out of a conviction that technology changes how we think. They are correct in that assumption, which is one reason I'm thrilled by the Evans Digital… It will facilitate new areas of research that could not have been accomplished in a lifetime spent only in the library or bent over a microform reader.”
— Cathy N. Davidson, Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English, Duke University in Common-place: The Interactive Journal of Early American Life (April 2003)

“This collection will be an invaluable resource for students of history, religion, politics, literature and many other fields ... While the collection of course overflows with sermons, hymnals, almanacs, and political tracts, it also contains innumerable plays, novels, games, dictionaries, children's books and even acrostics. The Evans homepage has an index listing dozens of genres, so with one click you can immediately delve into whatever sort of text piques your curiosity.”
— Seth A. Cotlar, Assistant Professor of History, Willamette University in Moveable Type (Fall 2003)

“The digitalized Evans provides the scholar of early America with a tool as revelatory as the medical MRI. The slightest browsing provides a provocation to original thought. Searches can be limited by date or targeted by means of a wonderful array of pre-selected and assembled categories—captivity narratives, economics and trade, law and crime, facetiae (humor and pornography), Welsh texts, Dutch texts, subscribers lists, booksellers catalogues, etc.

"One can search titles or full texts. But the real value of the search engine is in full searches precisely because such searches are inherently interdisciplinary. Key word, phrase or proximity searches allow one to see the myriad of contexts in which a key term appears, without prejudging that term as fundamentally legal, social, theological, economic or otherwise discipline specific.”
— Jay Fliegelman, William Robertson Coe Professor of American Literature and Culture, Stanford University in Common-place (April 2003)

“Readex gives historical researchers a dream interface that is as intuitive as it is potent.... Certainly no scholar investigating 17th- or 18th-century American history or culture can thrive in the future without access to Evans Digital Edition.... Readex has not only raised a monument but defined a boundary: experts will henceforth refer to their labors as having occurred before or after Evans Digital Edition.”
— Mary W. George, Library Instruction Coordinator and Senior Researcher, Princeton University Library in Microform & Imaging Review (Fall 2004)

“I was given the opportunity to test the digital Early American Imprints: Evans (1639-1800) in October and November of 2004. I found it a useful, sometimes exhilarating experience to perform word and phrase searches through the entire corpus of pre-1800 publications. While the rough type in certain of the cheap imprints caused false hits with some frequency, the Optical Character Recognition performed admirably, particularly when one worked with phrases rather than single words.

“While the application’'s use for literary inquiry is apparent to all, I wished to determine its uses for other sorts of investigation. There has been uncertainty among southern food historians about how rice bread, the staple bread of the Low country in the 18th and 19th centuries, was prepared. The earliest instructions date from the second quarter of the 19th century, well after its general introduction into the diet. So I entered "rice bread" into the three Archive of Americana databases (Evans, Early American Imprints: Shaw-Shoemaker (1800-1819) and Early American Newspapers)—the latter two only partially complete at this juncture—and there, amid a welter of cargo manifests, instructions about rationing sailors, and advertisements, were three recipes and one detailed instruction with commentary on its preparation in an 1803 encyclopedia printed in Philadelphia. Eureka! Mystery solved.”
— David S. Shields, McClintock Professor of Southern Letters, Departments of Literature and History, University of South Carolina in Early American Literature (Spring 2005)

“The digital edition, with full-text searching, contains more than 36,000 items and 2.3 million images, along with integrated bibliographic records from the American Antiquarian Society; searchable ASCII text generated by OCR software is associated with each image. It is an extraordinary resource.

“These [search] capabilities are truly what set this version of the Evans collection apart from its parent; their flexibility and power make it possible to do research, locate materials and make connections that would have been, at a minimum, extremely time consuming and, in many cases, just plain impossible, before."
— Helena M. Wall, Warren Finney Day Professor of History and Director of the Hart Institute for American History, Pomona College in American Quarterly (June 2005)

“This on-line resource brings to your computer screen the full text of the more than 36,000 books, pamphlets and broadsides published in the British American colonies and the new United States between 1639 and 1800. …The collection is an invaluable resource. …And because so many of the publications deal with matters of religion it will be an especially valuable tool for readers of this Journal [of Ecclesiastical History].

“Scholars can easily search for a particular title. More important, they can search the entire collection for the appearance of a word or phrase in a title or in the actual texts.…

“One can also browse by genre, subject, author, history of printing, place of publication or language of the printed material. Each of these areas is itself broken down into separate categories. ‘Sermons’ are one of the ‘genre’ categories, as are ‘catechisms’ and ‘devotional literature. ’ Each is further divided, so that one can, for example, search for any one of 20 subcategories of sermons, including ‘artillery election sermons', ‘execution sermons’ and ‘Christmas sermons.' The ‘subject' category includes both ‘religion’ and ‘theology’. ‘Religion’ has 273 further subdivisions, from ‘African American Churches’ to ‘youth, religious life’, and including topics such as ‘anti-Catholicism,’ ‘martyrologies', ‘omens', ‘ordination’ and ‘Judaism.’ ‘Theology’ has 86 subcategories, including ‘justification’, ‘liberty of conscience', ‘grace', ‘predestination’ and ‘universalism’. …

“…This digital collection will make it far easier for scholars of the early modern period to expand their research, and it will enable undergraduates who would have a hard time gaining access to these texts to read and use them as well.”
— Francis J. Bremer, Professor of History and Department Chair, Millersville University of Pennsylvania in the Journal of Ecclesiastic History (July 2005)

"More than 36,000 works and 2,400,000 images––essentially the entire bibliographical production of the American colonies prior to 1800. … The product has a powerful search engine and user-friendly interface replete with options. The ability to search the text underlying the page images, including variant spellings and obsolete characters, provides researchers with unprecedented research opportunities."
— Norman Desmarais, Providence College in The Charleston Advisor (October 2004)

“The Evans Collection is the rock or foundation on which everyone who studies the first two centuries of American culture builds their work. Its authority is universally acknowledged: the cataloguing is superb, the best versions of a text are the basis of the digital version, and best of all, the entire series is searchable….Japanese scholars are very fortunate in having the most recent version, with an excellent search system, available at their universities.”
David D. Hall, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University   

“One of the most valuable features of the Readex interface is its entirely unique browsing capability. I often assist undergraduate students who aren’t yet sure of their exact research question or thesis, and many of whom are entirely new to the idea of conducting research with historical documents. It can be difficult for students in this situation to build precise searches, but the Readex tools for browsing by characteristics like subjects, genres, people, events, geography, and so forth provide them with a powerful alternative to searching.....the interface’s browsing tools not only increase discoverability of the outstanding content in the Readex collections, but also serve as teaching tools to help students understand how historical research questions can be born out of interaction with primary sources.”
Erin Cassidy, Assistant Professor, Web Services Librarian, and History and Foreign Languages Bibliographer in the Newton Gresham Library of Sam Houston State University

"I teach at a small school with no rare books collections; however, we do have access to the online Early American Imprints collection. This semester, my students in Colonial American Literature are working with primary texts from this archive, after studying several works available in modern editions. (This course is intended to 'expose' students to colonial lit, not 'cover' the period, so I don't fly through an anthology.) They seem to be enjoying the experience, and they are learning a great deal about early literature and culture, as well as about research and editing."
— Dr. Julie R. Voss, Assistant Professor of English, Lenoir-Rhyne University

“...there is an immeasurable thrill at being able to find the exact newspaper article referenced in a letter to Jefferson, or the confirming biographical detail revealed in a death notice of an obscure individual who corresponded with Jefferson but who would otherwise have been lost to history. The ability to streamline a search helps us to be responsible stewards of the materials and provides time for other aspects of editing.

“One recent example of such targeted searching in online collections by Readex (especially America’s Historical Newspapers and Early American Imprints: Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801-1819) is evident in the research we conducted for Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address, the documents of which were published in Volume 33 of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson.”
— Martha King, Associate Editor, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson

"I would not have been able to teach our capstone course on the American literary archives without Early American Imprints.”
— Randi L. Tanglen, Assistant Professor of English, Austin College

“For generations, Early American Imprints has been the first source to go to for printed materials from Colonial North America and the Early American Republic. Scholars and students no longer need schlep to the library and strain their eyes to enjoy its riches. Readex’s Web-based edition is readable and easy to navigate. Better still, its full-text indexing makes the search for scattered references to a particular topic quicker and more productive.”
— Reeve Huston, Associate Professor of History, Duke University

“The Readex collection of digitalized Early American Imprints is a major event for early Americanists of all fields. The collection is rich, expansive, and easy to access—it brings the archives to one's fingertips. I have found versions of Continental Congress’ publications that I did not know existed, and I have been able to move through broadside collections according to topic or to year of publication. The possibilities for searches are almost endless....”
— Philip Gould, Professor of English, Brown University

“The digital version of Early American Imprints, made easy and available by Readex, is an enormous boon to anyone interested in how colonial and early national Americans thought. The search engines allow you to peruse writings on any topic, however obscure or abstract. I spent an enormously productive week searching for uses of the word, 'ambition,’ in American letters; a colleague of mine had an equally productive time with the term, ‘Independence.’ By allowing historians to organize words and concepts into rough chronological patterns, and by inviting them to explore the many uses and contexts of ideas-in-time, Readex has done early Americanists a huge favor.”
— Jason M. Opal, Assistant Professor of History, Colby College

“Digital Early American Imprints allows students to complete more complex research projects than they would otherwise attempt. The search features make finding related items simple and straightforward enough for even the beginning researcher to use. Undergraduate and graduate students alike benefit from the easy navigation features and intuitive design.”
— Sally E. Hadden, Associate Professor of History and Law, Florida State University

“It is difficult to overestimate the value of the digital Early American Imprints. Never mind the fact that you can now do from your laptop what recently required a trip to the library and a fight with a microform reader. The search function—which lets you search the entire massive database as well as individual texts—makes possible all kinds of interesting discoveries. I've been working on the idea of Fortune in early America, and the digital Early American Imprints has revealed the idea in some of the strangest places.

“But perhaps most exciting about this wonderful resource is its power in the classroom. In a recent undergraduate seminar on Benjamin Franklin, I asked students to write research papers on some aspect of Franklin’'s life, suggesting they try this user-friendly database. The quality of the finished papers, along with the fascinating range of topics—from Franklin the apprentice to Franklin the inventor of the glass armonica—owed much to the digital Early American Imprints.”
— Edward G. Gray, Associate Professor of History, Florida State University

“The digital Early American Imprints will make the life of American historians a lot easier … I’m amazed at how well your OCR program works given all the difficult fonts found in these imprints. Earlier this year, I spent weeks pouring over the microfiche editions of Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker looking for 18th- and early 19th- century usages of the word ‘Caucus.’ Your full-text search function found all of the citations I had discovered—in mere seconds—plus a number that I had missed.”
— Tom Coens, Assistant Research Professor, History Department, University of Tennessee

“It would be nearly impossible for me to do my current research without the capabilities of the digital Early American Imprints. True, the traditional microcard version is indexed, but the categories are general, and I cannot search the specific words that might pinpoint material relevant to my study. I'm researching ‘hermaphrodites’ in American history, and so, besides looking up medical terms describing the reproductive system that might or might not be indexed on the microcard version, I also look up derogations that contemporaries used to describe various physical or performative conditions, like 'monstrous' or 'case of imposture.' Through the computer-generated search engine, I have found several references to atypical genital anatomies that I could not have found without many years of traditional research.”
— Elizabeth Reis, Assistant Professor, Wome's and Gender Studies Program, History Department, University of Oregon

“Scholars in the field will celebrate Web access to the Charles Evans collection of early American imprints from 1639 to 1800. The search capacities are impressively flexible, ranging from a wide variety of subjects to dates and words.”
— William J. Scheick, J. R. Millikan Centennial Professor, University of Texas at Austin

“The digital Early American Imprints will revolutionize (no pun intended) the way that early American history is taught on my small liberal arts college campus. I can turn my students loose in this collection and let their historical imaginations run wild.”
— John Fea, Assistant Professor of American History, Messiah College

“This new electronic resource can dramatically change the way we teach early American subjects. Now we can teach what we preach: go to the primary sources. Currently, our classroom anthologies reproduce highly edited samples of only a few printed documents from British North America. To find the primary sources themselves, unexcerpted and unmediated by the agenda of anthologists, we've told our students to search the dark corners of their library microfilm collection for Early American Imprints: Evans—assuming a library fortunate enough to own the film. Few students want to go there. But the new digital Early American Imprints: Evans makes thousands of primary printed texts available at any hour of the day or night and anywhere a student—undergraduate as well as graduate—can boot up a computer. By allowing the kind of cross-referencing and keyword searching never before possible for these documents, digital Early American Imprints challenges teachers to think creatively about exciting ways to engage their classes with these fascinating older texts in their new, digital form.”
— Edward M. Griffin, Distinguished Graduate Professor of English, University of Minnesota

Notable Titles
Chronological Segments
Series List
Case Study
Advisory Board

Kerry Cochrane
Head of Reference
Loyola University Chicago

Betsey Patterson
Librarian for Research Initiatives
Emory University

Glenda Pearson
Head, Microform and Newspaper Collection
University of Washington

Sue Polanka
Coordinator of Reference and Instruction
University of Dayton

Lisa Stimatz
Coordinator of Instructional Services
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Perry Willet
Assistant Director for Projects and Services, Digital Library Program
Indiana University

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