Digitising the 19th Century

Increasing access to historical materials – looking forward to hearing about new research emerging from this:

Cengage’s plans to digitise the 19th century could open up a whole new world, finds Matthew Reisz

Described by its provider as “the most ambitious scholarly digitisation and publication programme ever undertaken”, Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO) was launched last week.

Created by educational resources provider Cengage Learning, the project builds on the success of its ECCO (Eighteenth Century Collections Online) programme.

Abigail Williams, Lord White fellow and tutor in English at St Peter’s College, Oxford, believes that ECCO has “transformed 18th-century studies across the world…It has been exciting and liberating in opening up the arcane, the ephemeral and the neglected, and allowing us to read way beyond the confines of the canon. The searchability of the text enables us to retrieve words and references from among millions of pages in a few seconds.”

The only key downside of ECCO, adds Dr Williams, is its creation of “a two-tier system among universities”, since “no serious 18th-century scholar would now think they could do research without it, yet not every institution can afford it”.

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