The University of Michigan Library, the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries and ProQuest have made public more than 25,000 manually transcribed texts from 1473-1700 — the first 200 years of the printed book. Full text access. Multiple format downloads, including ePUB. Or just download the entire corpus. [more inside]
From the early modern period to the nineteenth century, one of the most popular forms of inexpensive literary entertainment was the chapbook. (The phenomenon was not limited to English-speaking countries.) Encompassing everything from nursery rhymes to shocking tales, chapbooks (also known as "small books." among other things) were targeted at both adults and children. Frequently, as in the case of Gothic chapbooks, these ephemeral books provided readers with (much shortened) access to popular novels. (Other chapbooks were more wholesome and/or educational in intent.) McGill Library and Ball State University have some of the most extensive chapbook collections now online.
Of cats, rabbits and monstrous births, about the persistent Medieval/Early Modern belief that a woman's pregnancy could be influence what she gave birth too, as in the case of Agnes Bowker, who supposedly gave birth to a cat.
The Civil War Journal of Nehemiah Wallington, digitized by the John Rylands Library, is one of the surviving diaries kept by this seventeenth-century Puritan. Although Wallington recorded a number of key events, like the execution of Archbishop Laud, the diary has garnered most attention for its report of the Chelmsford witch trials, overseen by Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins (enter "witchcraft" into the search box to see Wallington's account). For more of the intellectual context for early modern witch-hunting in the British Isles, see the Witches in Early Modern England and Survey of Scottish Witchcraft databases, as well as the handy collection of primary texts in Cornell's Witchcraft Collection.
Res Obscura is a blog by Ben Breen, a graduate student of early modern history, which styles itself "a compendium of obscure things." Indeed, even the asides are full of wonder, such as the one about Boy, the famous Royalist war poodle of the English Civil War, which is but a short addendum to a post about witches' familiars. Here are some of my favorite posts, Pirate Surgeon in Panama (and a related post about 18th Century Jamaica), vanished civilizations, asemic pseudo-Arabic and -Hebrew writing in Renaissance art, and a series of posts about the way the Chinese and Japanese understood the world outside Asia in the early modern period (Europeans as 'Other', Europeans as 'Other,' Redux and Early Chinese World Maps).
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam invites you to compare Caravaggio and Rembrandt. For an overview of Rembrandt's work here are Rembrandt van Rijn: Life and Work and A Web Catalogue of Rembrandt Paintings. For Caravaggio there's caravaggio.com which makes use of the Italian website Tutta l'opera del Caravaggio.
Graduel à l'usage de Saint-Dié digitizes a French gradual (choir music for the Mass) created in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. For more information about what's what, see the handy definitions offered by the British Library or Celebrating the Liturgy's Books. [more inside]
The late-fifteenth/early-sixteenth century French publisher Simon Vostre was renowned for his Books of Hours. [more inside]
Studies in Scarlet: Marriage & Sexuality in the US & UK, 1815-1914, courtesy of Harvard University, features digitized trial narratives for over 400 cases--some famous, most not. (Harvard also has a more general collection of trial narratives here.) There are earlier trial narratives at Rictor Norton's Homosexuality in Eighteenth Century England: A Sourcebook and Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports; see also CrimeCulture's Rogue's Gallery and a Victorian anthology, Curiosities of Street Literature (originally published in 1871). Albert Borowitz has a brief history of true crime narratives here. For more historical criminality from the investigator's point of view, check out the Forensic Medicine Archives Project at the University of Glasgow. (Main link via VICTORIA.)
John Foxe's Book of Martyrs offers complete, searchable transcriptions of the 1563, 1570, 1576, and 1583 editions of Foxe's Actes and Monuments... Readers can juxtapose two editions to see Foxe's alterations. The site includes images of the foldout woodcuts, along with the title pages. Other goodies include a raft of introductory essays and detailed commentaries on the illustrations to books 10-12. See also the Foxe Digital Library Project at Ohio State University, which includes woodcuts, images of selected pages, and an exhibition catalog. There are more woodcuts from the 1610 edition at Penn's Center for Electronic Text and Image and from the 1784 edition at Kansas State University.
Henry's Machyn's sixteenth-century Chronicle was nearly destroyed in an eighteenth-century fire, but editors Richard W. Bailey, Marilyn Miller, and Colette Moore have just published a new online scholarly edition, comprising both a reconstructed text (thanks to the very posthumous assistance of John Strype) and images of all the pages. There are several other sixteenth- and seventeenth-century diaries and chronicles online, including Dana F. Sutton's edition of William Camden's Diary (in both Latin and English), J. G. Nichols' Victorian edition of the Chronicle of the Grey Friars of London, and the Earls Colne project's transcription of the diary of clergyman Ralph Josselin. (Machyn link via the very handy Textual Studies, 1500-1800.)
Index of Medieval Medical Images Searchable collection of medieval illustrations (to the year 1500); the thumbnails can be viewed at varying magnifications. There are many more interesting online repositories devoted to the history of medical illustration--both medieval and early modern--including Historical Anatomies on the Web, Anatomia, Seeing is Believing, and Medieval Manuscripts in the National Library of Medicine.
The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft: A searchable database of people accused of witchcraft in Scotland between 1563 and 1736. Currently, 3,837 people have been identified, 3,212 by name. 113 cases involved fairies, 74 had a known political or property motive, 70 involved some aspect of "white magic". This is the real, and utterly fascinating, history of a hysteria that griped a country and a continent for more than a century. Religion, folk belief, fear and local relations all played out in witchhunts - and we still do not really understand why, why they started or why they ended. Projects like this one are invaluable to help us begin. (Co-developed by mefite Flitcraft)