The Early Novels Database (END) project generates high-quality metadata about novels published between 1660 and 1850 in order to make early works of fiction more available to both traditional and computational modes of humanistic study. By uniting twenty-first-century database and search technologies with the sensibility of eighteenth-century indexing practices, END creates several innovative access points to a dataset that currently includes over two thousand richly detailed records. END metadata records and encodes information about how early novels instruct readers about themselves, carefully noting prefaces, introductions, and dedications; tables of contents and indexes; full titles and footnotes buried deep within the text. Each record includes both discursive descriptions of copy-specific information and codified languages that enable nimble search.
END is a collaborative, multi-institutional project based at the University of Pennsylvania and Swarthmore College. Begun in 2009 by co-PIs Rachel Buurma, Associate Professor of English Literature at Swarthmore, and Jon Shaw, Director of Logistics and Access Services at Penn Libraries, the END project has expanded to include faculty, staff, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows from both institutions, as well as undergraduate researchers from Penn, the Tri-College Consortium (Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr), and LACOL (Liberal Arts Consortium for Online Learning) member institutions.
While most END cataloging to date has been based at Penn Libraries’ Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, which has strong holdings in British and American fiction of the long eighteenth century, END has also cataloged early novels at a number of Philadelphia-area repositories (the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Rosenbach Museum and Library, the Swarthmore Libraries Rare Book Room, and Bryn Mawr College Special Collections) as well as the Fales Library at New York University.