The Digital Miscellanies Index is currently in a beta version. We are working on a new version of the database, which will have fresh data and new search capabilities, and will be launched before our present project ends in 2017. We are also working on interim solutions to some of the issues we have found with the beta version. This is a guide to help users make the most of the beta version; it will be updated with information about fixes as they happen.


Can I use quotation marks / Boolean searching?

Quotation marks cannot be used to search for exact phrases. Boolean searching (with AND, OR, and NOT) is also not supported.

When looking for a poem or a miscellany, try typing the exact phrase into the search field without quotation marks. Alternatively, enter keywords separately using the Add Criteria button; each new field comes with the option to include or exclude records containing that keyword. For help with searching for a person, see below: ‘Why can’t I find the person I’m looking for?’.

Can I do a fuzzy search?

No, fuzzy searching is not currently possible.

Can I search using filters from more than one of the main categories (miscellanies, poems, people)?

At the moment it’s not possible to do this. As the search is currently configured, there’s no single query which will isolate – for instance – poems with a particular attribution (such as ‘by a young lady’), or miscellanies with poems on a particular theme, or people associated with a certain kind of poem. The more flexible search interface we’re working to create will enable these kinds of enquiry; for now, the records themselves are the most useful source of information about the links between miscellanies, poems, and people. For example, to find out which miscellanies contain poems by a particular author, search for the person and browse their record: as well as a list of miscellany titles, the record contains a detailed listing of the poems, which can be searched with Ctrl+f to find the miscellanies they appear in by keyword.

Why can’t I find the person I’m looking for?

If you’ve been using the Basic Search, you may have encountered a blank results page with the heading ‘Displaying results 1 to 0’. This is a common error caused by the inability of the search interface to process enquiries with a person’s forename and surname (in whatever order) in the same field. So, when looking for a person, keep it simple: enter one name in the Basic Search, or use the Advanced options to search for either First Name or Last Name, or both.

Alternatively, if you’re searching for a person styled ‘Sir’ or ‘Lady’, your search will have been affected by an issue currently blocking searches for people with these titles. The web application that displays records from our database has standard ways of ‘reading’ this data, and it is not currently able to distinguish the titles of ‘Sir’ and ‘Lady’ from forenames and surnames. As a result, it is practically impossible to search for people with these titles at the moment, as their surnames are not recognised or displayed by the web application. While we work to resolve this problem, it is best to avoid searching for people with these titles using the Search People option. Instead, search for a poem or miscellany associated with the person, and use the link in that record to access the person record, where a complete profile can still be found.

Why can’t I find the poem I’m looking for?

The Title filter searches the titles given in miscellanies; these may differ from the title by which a poem is generally known today. Try searching for a word or phrase from the first or last line, as these are more securely associated with a particular poem.

First and last lines are recorded in the Index in a standardised form: spelling is modernised (except for poems in Scots, Old English, or Middle English, or poems in dialect), and contractions are expanded (with the exception of common contractions such as ‘I’ll’ and ‘we’re’, which are usually preserved). Try standardising the phrase you’re searching for in line with these conventions, or choose a phrase which is not likely to have been altered.

If a search for the first or last line of a poem does not yield any results, this may be because the whole poem does not appear in any eighteenth-century miscellanies, and only extracts are recorded in the Index, with varying first and last lines. These can be found using poem aliases: see ‘How do I find parts or fragments of longer works?’ below for more information.

What is an alias?

Aliases are not currently displayed in the online records for people, poems, and miscellanies. However, they can be very useful tools for searching.

For people, an alias is a name or title recorded in addition to the standard form of a person’s name in the Index. Aliases include noble titles, ecclesiastical offices, anglicised names, and pseudonyms. Aliases are not shown alongside personal names in search results, but they are searchable: a Basic Search for ‘rochester’, for instance, brings up John Wilmot (Earl of Rochester) and Thomas Sprat (Bishop of Rochester).

For poems and miscellanies, an alias is a standard title assigned to a record, which may differ from the title of the miscellany in a specific edition or the titles given to a poem in individual miscellanies. Aliases can be used to isolate all the editions of a miscellany or parts of a series of miscellanies which are recorded in the Index. In the Advanced Search for miscellanies, select the Alias filter and enter a keyword or keywords from the short title. Searching for ‘affairs’, for example, will find miscellanies belonging to the Poems on Affairs of State series. Occasionally miscellany aliases include the name of the publisher: thus, searching for ‘tonson’ will find editions of Jacob Tonson the Elder’s six-part miscellany series, which have aliases in the form ‘Dryden/Tonson Miscellany Poems. Volume 1.’.

For tips on using aliases to search for poems, see the next two questions.

How do I find parts or fragments of longer works?

In the Basic Search for poems, select the Alias filter, then enter the name of the author of the work. You may wish to use the Add Criteria button to narrow the search: for the second criterion, select the Alias filter again, and enter a keyword or phrase from the work’s standard title. Entering ‘spenser’ and ‘faerie’, for example, will find extracts from The Faerie Queene, which usually have aliases in the form ‘Spenser. Faerie Queene. Book 3 Canto 12.’.

Extracts from dramatic texts have aliases in the same form; for example, ‘Shakespeare. Henry VIII.’. Prologues and epilogues which are securely associated with particular plays can also be located by alias. Search for a keyword or phrase from the title of the play; aliases are usually in the form ‘Love for Love. Prologue.’.

The process of assigning aliases is not yet complete, and coverage of some authors and works is uneven. Please be aware that searching in this way for fragments of a particular work is not guaranteed to find all of the extracts from that work which are recorded in the Index.

How do I find multiple translations or imitations of an original work?

Translations or imitations of classical texts have aliases identifying their sources; for instance, ‘Horace. Odes. Book 3 Ode 6.’, ‘Homer. Iliad. Book 24.’. As described above, searching for a keyword or keywords from these aliases will find translations or imitations based on a certain author (classical names appear in their standard English forms in the Index), or versions of a certain text. Enter elements of the alias into separate fields where possible; however, parts of the alias not including full points can be entered into the same search field to make the search more precise. Thus, in the case of Horace’s odes, for example, a search for ‘horace’ and ‘book 3 ode 6’ will find versions of this poem only.

Some translations have additional aliases which include the name of the translator, such as ‘Dryden’s Metamorphoses. Book 1.’. These are usually assigned where each section of a translation is recorded separately in the Index; they signal that the separate records belong to a larger work, and make it possible to retrieve all of the records for the translation in a single search.

How do I find poems on a particular theme?

Each poem in the Index has tags highlighting key themes. These tags are not intended as an exhaustive profile of a poem’s themes; they do, however, enable some major thematic strands to be traced through the Index. To search for poems dealing with a particular theme, select the Advanced Search options, then go to Search Poems. Choose the Theme filter, and select a theme from the drop-down menu to find all poems with this tag in the Index.

How do I find poems in a particular genre?

As for themes, in the Advanced Search for poems, choose the Genre filter, and browse the drop-down menu to explore the tags.

How do I find poems with a particular verse form?

The Genre tags also cover verse forms: select an option from the drop-down menu as described above.

How do I find miscellanies of a certain type?

Like poems, miscellanies usually have one or more Genre tags, such as ‘Collection of comic verse’ or ‘Collection of 17th century verse’. Go to the Advanced Search for miscellanies, then choose the Genre filter and browse the drop-down menu for options.

How do I find out how much miscellanies cost?

In the Advanced Search for miscellanies, select the Price filter, then enter ‘s’ or ‘d’ into the search field to find miscellanies with an advertised price in shillings or pence. Prices recorded in the Index are taken from the miscellanies themselves – usually from title pages. Alternatively, enter a precise figure into the search field (such as ‘6 s’) to find all miscellanies advertised at that price.

How do I find illustrated miscellanies?

In the Advanced Search for miscellanies, select the Comments filter and enter ‘plates’ into the search field.

How do I find miscellanies with certain paratexts?

The Prefatory Endmatter filter in the Advanced Search for miscellanies searches within the details of prefatory matter (preface, dedication, subscription list, table of contents, etc.) and end matter (index, bookseller’s advertisement, etc.) included in each miscellany record. It can be used to search for miscellanies with subscription lists (using the keyword ‘subscribers’ or ‘subscription’), bookseller’s advertisements (with the name of the bookseller or the keyword ‘books’), named dedicatees, and more.

Results and Records

How are results ordered?

Every record in the Index has an ID number corresponding to the order in which it was created – Miscellany ID 1000 is the 1000th miscellany record to be created in the database. The results of searches are displayed in ascending order by ID number, or by the first digits of the ID number. Results are not currently sortable.

How do I access full texts of the miscellanies I’ve found?

The Index does not currently provide links to the full texts of miscellanies. Many can be found on Google Books; alternatively, if you have access to Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), you can find facsimiles of the vast majority of miscellanies recorded in the Index using the ESTC number or the ECCO document number (also called the Gale document number) given at the top of each miscellany record. ECCO’s Advanced Search includes the options to search by ESTC number and document number. Note that the individual volumes of a multi-volume miscellany have separate records in the Index and separate document numbers in ECCO, but generally they do not have separate ESTC numbers.

The numbers of poems and miscellanies in this person’s Role Summary don’t make sense – what’s going on?

The Role Summary in each person record contains a series of statements about the number of times poems linked to that person appear in miscellanies. They take the form: person is associated with ‘23 poems appearing in 93 miscellanies’. These statements accurately count up the number of poems linked to the person at each level of confidence in their role as author; however, the total number of ‘miscellanies’ is less transparent. This is not in fact the number of separate publications in which poems linked to the person as author appear; it is instead the total number of appearances of poems linked to the person in miscellanies. Thus, ‘93 miscellanies’ is the cumulative total of the numbers of poems linked to the person in each miscellany (four poems in one miscellany, two in another, etc.), and it is usually a higher figure than the number of poems because individual poems are counted more than once. We’re working to revise these statements to provide a clearer summary of the number of separate miscellanies poems appear in.

The person I’ve found has ‘0 Roles’ and their record is blank – why aren’t they linked to any poems?

There are two possible reasons for this. One is that the person is one of those whose details were imported into the Index’s database to populate it with known authors at the start of the project; some of these authors may not have been linked to any poems, and if this is the case then their records will remain blank. The other, more likely, reason is that the person is linked to one or more poems, but not at a level which is visible in the records at the moment.

There are two ways in which poems can be linked to people in the Index. The first involves a direct link between the records for a poem and a person: this link specifies the person’s role in the poem, and if their role is an authorial one, the link normally carries details of a secondary source for the attribution, such as a reference to the poem in a collected edition of the author’s work. In some cases disputed or spurious attributions are recorded in this way, with secondary sources cited to provide an indication of their level of credibility. However, where no secondary source can be found to corroborate or contest the attribution, a direct link between a poem and a person is not usually established. This tier of direct links is designed to create a body of attributions whose credibility (or otherwise) can be assessed using sources separate from the miscellanies themselves.

The second type of link is indirect and associated with the publication of a poem in a miscellany. For each of a poem’s appearances in separate miscellanies, the Index records the attribution given in the miscellany and where possible creates a link to the person to whom the poem is attributed. This type of link is more common than the first one: it simply records the attribution in a particular miscellany, and does not require any secondary evidence to evaluate its credibility.

At the moment, only poems linked directly to a person are visible in that person’s record. Thus, some people whose records appear blank may not in fact be without links to poems: their records may only appear blank because indirect links are not currently displayed in the online people records. Indirect links are visible elsewhere in the Index, alongside other information about specific appearances of poems in miscellanies: they appear in poem records (under Publication Details) and in miscellany records (under Contents of Miscellany).

The Index

I’ve found an abbreviated reference – what does it refer to?

Here are some frequently used abbreviations and their references:

Case: Arthur E. Case, A Bibliography of English Poetical Miscellanies, 1521–1750 (Oxford: Bibliographical Society, 1935 [for 1929]).

Forster (1980): Harold Forster, Supplements to Dodsley’s Collection of Poems (Oxford: Bibliographical Society, 1980).

Suarez (1997): A Collection of Poems by Several Hands, compiled by Robert Dodsley, and edited by Michael F. Suarez, 6 vols (London: Routledge, 1997).

How do I cite a record in the Index?

All records in the Index have an ID number (the three types of records – miscellanies, poems and people – have separate ID number sequences). Please quote this ID number when citing a record, as in the following examples. In citations of poem records, quote the first line of the poem as it appears in the Index.

‘Poems for Young Ladies (DMI Miscellany ID 1054)’, Digital Miscellanies Index <>, accessed 15 December 2014.

‘These are thy glorious work parent of good (DMI Poem ID 30709)’, Digital Miscellanies Index <>, accessed 15 December 2014.

‘John Milton (DMI Person ID 1909)’, Digital Miscellanies Index <>, accessed 15 December 2014.

How does the Index record attributions?

For a description of the Index’s two-tier system for recording attributions, see above: ‘The person I’ve found has ‘0 Roles’ and their record is blank – why aren’t they linked to any poems?’.

How does the Index handle multiple volumes, editions and reissues?

Each individual volume of a multi-volume collection has its own miscellany record. Links to the records for other volumes can be found in the Related Miscellanies section of the record.

As regards editions and reissues, each state of a miscellany which has a separate ESTC record is given a separate record in the Index. Links to other editions or reissues of a miscellany can be found in the Related Miscellanies section of the record.

Editions – even those whose titles vary – usually share the same alias in the Index. For guidance on how to use aliases to find multiple editions of the same miscellany, or miscellanies in the same series, see above: ‘What is an alias?’.

To find miscellanies which are reissues or possible reissues, go to the Advanced Search for miscellanies and select the Bibliographic Detail filter, then search using the keyword ‘reissue’.

I’ve found a miscellany published after 1780 – why is it in the Index?

Around 90% of the miscellanies recorded in the Index have dates of publication between 1700 and 1780; these records amount to a comprehensive survey of poetic miscellanies in this period. The remaining 10% - just over 180 miscellanies – date from between 1781 and 1800. This latter group does not include the major anthologies of the last decades of the century, nor does it provide comprehensive coverage of the miscellanies published during these years. In fact, many of the post-1780 miscellanies in the Index are later editions of collections which first appeared before 1780, and the rationale behind their inclusion has been to extend the publication history of these collections up to 1800. It is important to note that popular collections which went through several reprints after 1780 – such as The Speaker (whose first edition of 1774 is Miscellany ID 1241) – swell the publication histories of poems and authors to an extent that does not necessarily reflect their broader popularity (or otherwise) after 1780.

To search for post-1780 miscellanies, use the date range options in the Advanced Search. Select Cover Date and then use the qualifiers (‘is greater than’, ‘is less than’, etc.) to specify a date range.

Are there gaps in the Index’s data?

The Index contains records for over 1500 printed poetic miscellanies and 41,000 poems. It does not cover song books – with or without musical notation – because they are simply too numerous to be included within the scope of the project. There are, however, a small number of song books currently in the database, most of them a legacy of the early stages of the project.

Within the database itself, a small proportion of the records for miscellanies are incomplete. Incomplete records exist for a range of reasons: some because the ESTC record to which the Index record corresponds is dubious or incomplete; others because there is no ECCO facsimile of the miscellany and it has not been possible to check a physical copy; and others because the miscellany in question has so many poems that adding them to the record one by one (as has so far been necessary) would simply be too time-consuming. Where a miscellany contains an unusually large number of poems, the usual procedure has been to create a complete record for the first edition, then to create separate but incomplete records for subsequent editions. This is the case, for example, with Edward Bysshe’s compendium The Art of Poetry, whose 1702 first edition contains so many poetic extracts it has had to be split between two records (Miscellany ID 1430 and ID 1487).

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