EEBO-TCP Workset Browser

I have begun creating a “browser” against content from EEBO-TCP in the same way I have created a browser against worksets from the HathiTrust. The goal is to provide “distant reading” services against subsets of the Early English poetry and prose. You can see these fledgling efforts against a complete set of Richard Baxter’s works. Baxter was an English Puritan church leader, poet, and hymn-writer. [1, 2, 3]

EEBO is an acronym for Early English Books Online. It is intended to be a complete collection of English literature between 1475 through to 1700. TCP is an acronym for Text Creation Partnership, a consortium of libraries dedicated to making EEBO freely available in the form of XML called TEI (Text Encoding Initiative). [4, 5]

The EEBO-TCP initiative is releasing their efforts in stages. The content of Stage I is available from a number of (rather hidden) venues. I found the content on a University Michigan Box site to be the easiest to use, albiet not necessarily the most current. [6] Once the content is cached — in the fullest of TEI glory — it is possible to search and browse the collection. I created a local, terminal-only interface to the cache and was able to exploit authority lists, controlled vocabularies, and free text searching of metadata to create subsets of the cache. [7] The subsets are akin to HathiTrust “worksets” — items of particular interest to me.

Once a subset was identified, I was able to mirror (against myself) the necessary XML files and begin to do deeper analysis. For example, I am able to create a dictionary of all the words in the “workset” and tabulate their frequencies. Baxter used the word “god” more than any other, specifically, 65,230 times. [8] I am able to pull out sets of unique words, and I am able to count how many times Baxter used words from three sets of locally defined “lexicons” of colors, “big” names, and “great” ideas. Furthermore, I am be to chart and graph trends of the works, such as when they were written and how they cluster together in terms of word usage or lexicons. [9, 10]

I was then able to repeat the process for other subsets, items about: lutes, astronomy, Unitarians, and of course, Shakespeare. [11, 12, 13, 14]

The EEBO-TCP Workset Browser is not as mature as my HathiTrust Workset Browser, but it is coming along. [15] Next steps include: calculating an integer denoting the number of pages in an item, implementing a Web-based search interface to a subset’s full text as well as metadata, putting the source code (written in Python and Bash) on GitHub. After that I need to: identify more robust ways to create subsets from the whole of EEBO, provide links to the raw TEI/XML as well as HTML versions of items, implement quite a number of cosmetic enhancements, and most importantly, support the means to compare & contrast items of interest in each subset. Wish me luck?

More fun with well-structured data, open access content, and the definition of librarianship.

  1. Richard Baxter (the person) –
  2. Richard Baxter (works) –
  3. Richard Baxter (analysis of works) –
  4. EEBO-TCP –
  5. TEI –
  6. University of Michigan Box site –
  7. local cache of EEBO-TCP –
  8. dictionary of all Baxter words –
  9. histogram of dates –
  10. clusters of “great” ideas –
  11. lute –
  12. astronomy –
  13. Unitarians –
  14. Shakespeare –
  15. HathiTrust Workset Browser –

Comments are closed.