Monday, 15 August 2016

The Corvey Collection

The history of the Corvey Collection - which has recently been added to the University Library's digital collections as part of Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO) - is a fascinating one.  It was once the private library of the Landgrave of Hesse-Roterberg and kept at his princely residence, a converted Benidictine monastery - the eponymous Castle Corvey.  The library was partially digitized by the University of Paderborn before it was discovered by Anglophone scholars in the mid-90s.  The full story is available here.  As an electronic collection it is now available to University of Sheffield researchers and consists of over 17,500 full-text, downloadable monographs - mainly novels - covering the period 1790-1840.

By Photo uncredited, c. 1925-1930 (Postcard.: Verlag Julius Henze Buch- u. Kunsthandlung (Co.)) ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Romanticists and Gothicists will no doubt be attracted to the idea of a 19th Century aristocrat reading novels alone in his Castle while going gently mad*, but it is worth emphasising how truly remarkable the collection is.  It contains many English works of the period that are not thought available elsewhere and a great number of foreign language works.  The editors of the collection are also keen to point out the number or works written by women included.   The works are produced in facsimile so include original illustrations and type-settings.

Therefore, as well as scholars of the 19th Century, there is also great potential for those studying female writing, or for scholars of visual or print culture.   There are a number of translated works not previously held by Sheffield that will be of interest to language scholars.  All the text is also downloadable in OCR format for those engaged in digital humanities or text-mining research.

Using the Collection

Use the advanced search option to search for individual titles or authors, or search for phrases contained within the full-text.  You can also search for individual media and illustration types via the advanced search.   As part of NCCO all the content can be searched with that of the other modules.

*(NB There is no proof that anybody went mad from reading these novels)

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