A digital “aggregator,” 18thConnect gathers together information about and links to the best primary and secondary texts that are available in digital form, either freely available on the Web or available by subscription. The digital scholarly resources in the field of eighteenth-century studies that are all searchable here, together, in one place, come from libraries, companies like Gale, and scholars themselves. All of these resources are either digital collections of primary texts or content that has been or will be peer-reviewed by 18thConnect itself. 18thConnect therefore contains:
- metadata about each site or collection;
- links that take users to the materials in sites and collections;
- if available, plain text versions of each digital item for full-text searching.
Users who come to the site can search all the digital materials aggregated by 18thConnect at the same time by word or “facet”: title, author, date, collection, genre, discipline, material type. All of these search options are visible under the search tab at the upper right.
All materials aggregated by the 18thConnect search portal are peer-reviewed. We include scholarly projects that have been peer-reviewed by our editorial board. The Process of peer review is described here, and there is a page of instructions about how to submit your web site or digital resource.
Once your site has been accepted, the Director of 18thConnect will write you a letter that can be used for your Promotion and Tenure Committee as well. We recommend that sites passing peer review at 18thConnect submit their work to the MLA Scholarly Editions Committee for the MLA seal.
18thConnect provides users each with their own “My18th” page tab (upper left) which allows them to save searches, collect items, make exhibits, save documents that they are editing, and see all their own tags. Under the “Exhibits” tab at the top right, users can see all the exhibits—curated arguments using 18thConnect materials as well as items from the Internet—that have been made public by other users. Here they can join groups, engage in discussions, and view all users’ tags, for which we will eventually, as they grow, add searching capacity.
A main feature of 18thConnect is TypeWright. This web-based software allows users to correct documents from EEBO and ECCO. These documents have been automatically generated by Optical Character Recognition Engines that are not always accurate. Once users have corrected these documents, our contracts with ProQuest and Gale allow us to give the person or people who corrected it a copy of that text. We give two kinds of copies: plain texts and TEI-encoded texts, enabling users to make their own digital editions which we welcome them to submit to us for peer review. Other companies and libraries are making similar contracts with us to enlist our community’s help in correcting OCR outputs.
The mission of 18thConnect is to focus on:
- Access via plain-text searching for all scholars to open access and proprietary and digital archives including EEBO and ECCO, even if their institutions are unable to afford those resources;
- Peer-review of the growing number of digital resources and archives for which 18thConnect offers an online finding aid;
- Reflection on Best Practices with scholars who are negotiating new modes of publication and scholarly production.
Director Laura Mandell describes how 18thConnect plans to accomplish its mission in this short video.
 Note to Proprietors: Because we index the plain text by word—all of them in one giant index—users cannot reconstruct materials from proprietors and scholars who have submitted their digital materials to 18thConnect. If the materials can be reached only by subscription, the links will take non-subscribing users to a paywall.
Note to contributors: People can search for and find your resource in 18thConnect, but they must go to your web site to see it and use it. We are just, in effect, directing traffic to your site.
We are always working to make the 18thConnect site better. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback.