An Introduction to EMLoT

How EMLoT helps

By identifying Sources
The core function of the Early Modern London Theatres (EMLoT) database is to show how information produced at the time of the early London theatres was transmitted in later years.

Consequently, the database only includes information from Primary Sources, that is documents written before 1642, which were subsequently seen and transcribed (copied) by writers in Secondary Sources, that is documents written after 1642. In this way, the database both provides information which was contemporary with the early theatres and also identifies the means by which that information came to be known more widely in the centuries afterwards.

One Primary Source might have its information transcribed in more than one Secondary Source, and the same Secondary Source could transcribe more than one Primary Source. The database manages and reveals both situations.

The database describes where in the Primary or Secondary sources you will find the relevant information about the early London theatres, and it describes each source, whether Primary or Secondary, exactly, so that you can cite all its publication details. This includes its original title and how it is now known; its short and full title; its author(s); where it can be consulted in full, including its presence in any digitised collection; whether it is now lost or can be considered a forgery. All the bibliographical facts necessary for you to identify, describe, access and record a source of information, whether created before or after 1642, are included in the database.

The database also provides a summary and an Abstract of that information in the Primary Source which was subsequently transcribed in the Secondary source. It tells you how the Primary Source was treated by the later transcriber, for example, whether it was copied in full or excerpted, or had its spelling and punctuation updated. By recording transcriptions of every kind, faithful, excerpted, emended or otherwise adulterated, the database enables you to consider not only the frequency with which a primary source was published, but also its various treatments over time, and at the hands of different editors: which documents tend to be preserved whole, and which heavily excerpted; which preserved in facsimile, and which modernized.

By categorising Sources
The database categorises both the Primary and Secondary Sources in considerable detail, so that you know exactly what kind of documents you are dealing with. For example, letters, accounts, and jest books appear among the many categories of Primary Sources; anthologies, diaries, and monographs appear among the rather fewer categories of Secondary Sources. It also tells you whether the Source was produced under the auspices of any institution, listing, for example, the Primary Sources generated by the Court of Chancery or the many Secondary Sources which are the products of single authors with no significant institutional links.

It also tags each source in a more thematic way using a number of helpful descriptors to enable you to refine your searches: for example, it might identify a source as ‘anti-theatrical’ or ‘topographical’ or ‘parliamentary’ in character.

By categorising the information in Sources
The database also categorises the contents of all its sources into the people, the places, the acting troupes, and the events about which they include information. From this you can learn both about the pre-1642 theatres themselves, by accessing the contents of those Primary Sources which were later transcribed, and also about the filtration process through which that original information has come down to us in Secondary Sources: who was involved in passing on that information, what they selected, and when and where they passed it on.

The database also sub-categorises its people, places, troupes and events in a more descriptive way so that, for example, you can look for all events of a particular kind, public disturbances, for instance; or for the different social and situational roles which the same person might have performed in an event, such as a widow who also appeared as plaintiff in a court case; or for the countries of origin of playing troupes, or for all the theatrical information related to a particular London locale, such as St Martin in the Fields. The original historical occurrences about which the Primary Sources recorded information are themselves dated since there could be a considerable delay before they were referred to in the Primary Source document.

By interlinking all information
This database is not only a finding tool, like an Index, or an alphabetical bibliography. It can be used like that: you can conduct a simple Keyword Search for a specific item which you already know you want to study. But by linking up all the categories and sub-categories of its sources, and of the information they contain, the database has enabled you to explore, starting anywhere in the records and discovering how pieces of information are related. This is called a Browse Search. With it you can search and sort any combination of terms while preserving the discrete identity of the Primary Sources in which the information originated and the Secondary Sources through which it passed.

What EMLoT does not include

EMLoT aspires to be a major encyclopedic resource on the early London stage, as well as a comprehensive historiographical survey of the field. However, it does not include every subsequent quotation of a particular Primary Source. Even if such completeness were possible, it would obscure the route by which Primary Sources become known to a wider audience. So the database cites only those Secondary Sources where the database compilers are reasonably confident that the Primary Source was actually seen (in reality or photographic facsimile) before being transcribed — allusions and paraphrases are generally not enough to earn a place in EMLoT!

This database does not include play texts, but, for example, it will reveal which play texts became more widely available through eighteenth-century collections and thus it charts the formation of the canon of early modern English drama. Play texts can be accessed electronically through other sites such as EEBO and ECCO.

Key Terms

You will find the key terms which are used in the database explained in Help: Key Terms.

Search Options

You will find explanations of how to conduct a Keyword or a Browse Search in Help.