eLearning Modules


The learning modules presented here will introduce you to the world of 18thC booksellers through original manuscript letters and contemporary printed texts. Who were the booksellers of the Age of Enlightenment, and why are their lives worth studying now?

The part they played in spreading ideas went beyond selling new works by philosophers, poets, scientists, historians, travellers, and dictionary-makers. The modules show them acting as printers, publishers, bankers, and agents for the growing number of authors they dealt with—in other words, they did more than sell works which are still influential today; they also helped to shape those works.


Andrew Millar

The letters of Andrew Millar, one of the most important of these booksellers, form the basis of the modules that show you how to begin and extend your own research into 18thC lives. By working through these modules, you’ll learn which historical sources you can rely on to launch your studies. Whether you’re doing your research online or in an archive, you’ll also learn how to read and interpret original documents, and how to make accurate transcripts on which to build your research.


Module description

The aim of the modules is to enrich your reading of historical material presented elsewhere on the site, and to give you the skills to ask questions—and find answers—which will take your interest further.


  • Module 1 guides you through two of the most useful and reliable web resources for historical research, before showing you how to prepare for and make the most of hands-on research in local and national archives.
  • Module 2 teaches you how to read 18thC manuscript letters, looking at challenges such as handwriting, spelling, and abbreviation. You’ll also learn how to interpret historical letters as fully as possible, taking into account not just the subject matter, but also information given by the date, variations on standard opening and closing phrases, and forms of address.
  • Module 3 about the social, agricultural and political events of early 18th century Scotland which ultimately resulted in the Malt Tax Riots of Glasgow in 1725.
Our thanks to the Bodleian Library for the use of the image in our banner: "William Green Jr. (fl. 1732–1752), Scene at an Oxford Book Auction, oil on canvas, 1747; Bodleian Library. Portrait LP.701, 1F.”