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Exploring New Resources: 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers

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The Library has added a number of cool new electronic resources in the past few months. This weekly series will provide some ideas on how you can get the most out of them. Questions? Contact Paula Hammett at

What is it?

The Burney Collection is a rich compendium of British history from the early 1600s to the first years of the 19th century, covering politics, literature, economics, or society at large. The newspapers, pamphlets, and books gathered by the Reverend Charles Burney (1757-1817) are useful to those studying religious history, or the development of the concept of 'news' and 'newspapers' and the "free press". Economic historians will find all sorts of economic information, from prices of stocks and shares, through shipping information, to commerce more generally. Many trades are represented in the advertisements, which form a substantial part of newspapers from the early 1700s. For literary historians there are advertisements for forthcoming books as well as those already published, as well as essays, poems, and more substantial works published in parts within both newspapers and periodicals. Theatres regularly advertised their performances and soon prompted criticism of their repertoire as well as gossip about the players.  Advertisements can be explored as a developing genre, as well as source of information on disparate topics—medicines (quack or otherwise), goods to be sold, property to be sold or leased, runaway servants, lost or stolen personal effects, and many, many others.

When should I use it?

If you're writing a thesis on the English Civil War of the 1640s and want to find primary source news and propaganda from both the King’s view and that of Parliament to see what contributed to the execution of Charles I. Or you are participating in a play that was first performed in London in the early 1700s and would like to find out how it was received and who the performers were. How was Gulliver’s Travels first published? 

An example:

Excerpt of serialized Gulliver's Travels.

Access this collection and the rest of our e-resources from the Library's A-Z list of article databases. For more on new e-resources, check out the rest of the series.