Literary Research with Primary Sources

Finding Historical Printed Editions

UNM Library

Printed copies of first and/or historical editions of literary works can sometimes be found in the UNM Library. The best way to locate them is to enter a title in the library catalog and then sort your results by date (oldest first). For example:

catalog search page that has been sorted oldest first

Digital Resources

In addition to the UNM Library's collection of printed books, the following databases offer full-text electronic access to historical editions of English-language literature. A current UNM ID is required for access.

Be aware that although useful for accessing textual content, these resources can make it difficult to study books as physical objects for reasons such as:  you cannot evaluate their bindings, paper, etc.; their size and format can be hard to determine; any unique evidence of provenance or readership is from one copy only; and so on.

Early English Books Online
Full text of nearly every book published in English up to 1700.

Eighteenth-Century Collections Online
Full text of 180,000 books published in the U.K., 1701-1800

British Periodicals
Full text, 17th to 20th centuries. Source of historical fiction, poetry, etc.

‚ÄčEarly American Imprints Series
Full text of most books printed in British North America and the U.S. up to 1800.

American Periodicals
Full text, 1741-1900. Source of historical fiction, poetry, etc.


Free Web Resources

Hathi Trust Digital Library
15 million volumes from major research libraries. Includes many historical editions of British and American literature.

Google Books
Full-text or partial access to millions of books, including historical editions of English-language literature from the 18th century to the present.


America's Historical Imprints landing page

America's Historical Imprints,
UNM Library database