About Electronic Enlightenment

With 79,254 letters and documents and 10,232 correspondents as of Spring 2024, EE is the most wide-ranging online collection of edited correspondence of the early modern period, linking people across Europe, the Americas and Asia from the early 17th to the mid-19th century.

Scholarship with added value

Drawn from the best available critical editions, EE is not simply an “electronic bookshelf” of isolated texts but a network of interconnected documents, allowing you to see the complex web of personal relationships in the early modern period and the making of the modern world.

But that's not all. The EE team have created an ongoing programme of expanding, linking and original scholarly research to give you:

Letters and lives in Electronic Enlightenment

The rich variety of people in EE represents a real cross-section of early modern society in Europe and the Americas. By treating every correspondent — not only the “great men” — as someone significant, EE reveals the existence of the myriad unknown and ignored figures of the period and raises questions about their place in the structures of their time, challenging the traditional concept of the “Enlightenment” as the preserve of philosophers.

Through EE you can see the ideas and concerns not only of thinkers and scholars, politicians and diplomats, but also butchers and housewives, servants and shopkeepers. With a wealth of personal detail revealed in these personal documents, you can explore as never before the relationships, correspondence networks and movement of ideas, the letters and lives of the early modern world.

The appearance of Electronic Enlightenment is a major breakthrough for anyone wishing to exploit the rich resources offered by the correspondence of major Enlightenment figures such as Voltaire and Rousseau, as well as many lesser-known figures. Given that epistolary exchange constituted the life blood of the Republic of Letters, Electronic Enlightenment is absolutely essential for any serious researcher of the Enlightenment. The Electronic Enlightenment interface facilitates efficient and rapid retrieval of information that is otherwise very difficult to access. The keyword search is indispensable for unearthing information that has long been missed, and the biographies are immensely useful. EE has transformed the research process for me. I am truly grateful for the efforts that have made this wonderful database available through my institutional library in Hong Kong.

— Dr Alexandra Cook
Department of Philosophy
University of Hong Kong

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