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This unsurpassed collection was developed in partnership with the University of Virginia Library. It has been compiled specifically to support a wide range of research and pedagogical needs. The collection stretches from the revolutionary period to the Reconstruction era, and includes works by authors such as Herman Melville, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Bret Harte and a host of minor writers of the period.

Early American Fiction 1789–1875 is the product of a unique collaboration between ProQuest and the University of Virginia Library. In 1996 University of Virginia Libraryreceived a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to digitize and publish its unique collections of early American fiction. This made possible the first Chadwyck-Healey Early American Fiction 1789–1850 database, completed in 2000, which offered preservation-quality facsimile page images and keyword-searchable full text for more than four hundred works of American fiction published before 1850. Early American Fiction 1789–1875, the second phase of this project, has been made possible by further sponsorship from the Mellon Foundation.

Early Early American Fiction 1789–1875 extends the coverage of its predecessor by twenty-five years (1851–1875) and incorporates the full text of more than 300 additional titles and over 50 new authors, including Louisa May Alcott, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain, as well as a host of minor writers of the period. In its entirety, Early American Fiction 1789–1875 offers more than 730 works of fiction by more than 130 authors. The titles currently available are listed in the bibliography.

Early American Fiction 1789–1875 incorporates all of the texts from phase one of the project, including first editions of works by James Fenimore Cooper, Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Other highlights of the pre–1850 content include William Hill Brown's The Power of Sympathy, which has been recognized as the first American novel, and extremely rare items such as the American printing of Susanna Haswell Rowson's Charlotteand Joseph Holt Ingraham's AliceMay; or, The Lost of Mount Auburn.

As part of Early American Fiction 1789–1875 this content is fully cross-searchable with a comprehensive array of novels and short stories from the third quarter of the nineteenth century, including Melville's Moby Dick, Twain's first book The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches, and Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself. William Wells Brown's Clotelle, acknowledged as the first published novel by an African American writer, is represented here by the first USedition of 1864.

Early American Fiction 1789–1875 presents the opportunity to study scholarly use of original rare books and of their computer simulacra, and to determine the extent to which electronic texts of rare books can serve scholars.

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