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Research Tools

The following list includes resources for those in search of information, special collections, and research projects relating to the history of the book. For ease of scanning, the resources are subdivided by general format: Indexes and Databases, Studies and Projects, Bibliographies and Research Guides, and Discussion Groups. Further information can be found at the websites linked below. Researchers should also consult the listings at Archives and Collections and Online Exhibits and Programs, linked in the menu above. To add new resources or to make corrections, please submit them to the webmaster.

Indexes and Databases

The resources listed below provide access to a wide range of source material useful for those researching the history of the book and print culture.

Manuscripts, The Ancient World, The Middle Ages

DEEP: Database of Early English Playbooks, Database. Publishing, printing, and marketing of Renaissance drama in England, Scotland, and Ireland through 1660
The Digital Scriptorium, Database. University of California Berkeley
The Duke Papyrus Archive. Searchable database about papyri
Illuminated Manuscripts at the Bodleian
Manuscripta Mediaevalia. Illuminated manuscripts from Italy in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich
Medieval Illustrated Manuscripts. KB and Museum Meermano


APICE. Università degli Studi di Milano. Collects, preserves, and promotes the use of archival collections for the study of literature, art, and modern and contemporary media.
Archivio Salani: illustrazione libraria tra Otto e Novecento (Laboratorio di Arti Visive of the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, with the contribution of Italian publisher Salani), digitizes all the sketches preserved in the Salani archive, from the late 19th century to the present (nearly 30.000 sketches), studying the images as artwork as well as part of the book, and as part of a particular edition. Database.
British Armorial Bindings. The Bibliographical Society of London in conjunction with the University of Toronto Library. A comprehensive catalogue of all the coats of arms, crests, and other heraldic devices that have been stamped by British owners on the outer covers of their books, together with the bibliographical sources of the stamps.
The Dicey and Marshall Catalogue (London, 1764). R. C. Simmons
CERL (Consortium of European Research Libraries). Manuscripts and early printed material to 1830.
Early European Books, ProQuest (subscription service–check your library). All works printed in Europe before 1701, regardless of language, or printed in European languages elsewhere
Finales de libro: Exposici? de colofones. University of Salamanca
HENRIK: Books and their Owners in Finland to 1809. Finnish Lit. Soc. & Project Henrik. Database
Il libro antico. Angela Nuovo, Aldo Coletto and Graziano Ruffini
London Lives, 1690-1800. A fully searchable edition of 240,000 manuscripts from eight archives and fifteen datasets, giving access to 3.35 million names.
The Poetry of the Gentleman’s Magazine, 1731-1800. Emily Lorraine de Montluzin. The database provides users with a comprehensive, fully browsable and searchable list of the 12,365 poems (of which 4,763 are by identified authors) printed in the Gentleman’s Magazine from its beginning in 1731 through 1800.
Price One Penny: A Database of Cheap Literature, 1837-1860. Marie Léger-St-Jean
Private Libraries in Renaissance England (PLRE) Folger database
USTC (Universal Short Title Catalogue), St. Andrews University. All books published in Europe between the invention of printing and the end of the sixteenth century.

North America

Libraries Today. Canadian library history. Lorne Bruce
First Charging Ledger, 1789-1792. Reflects the reading habits of over five hundred members of the Society Library, many of whom were prominent New Yorkers and government officials during the early years of the United States. New York Society Library
19th-c. American Children’s Book Trade Directory. American Antiquarian Society
What Middletown Read. Ball State University, et al. Reproduces circulation records of the Muncie (Indiana) Public Library, 1891-1902


The Athenaeum. Index to Reviews and Reviewers: 1830-1870; 1872-1886
British Newspapers 1800–1900. An inexpensive service of the British Library that searches 49 local and national titles (two million pages). Brief excerpts and full results from the Penny Illustrated and The Graphic are free.
The Curran Index to Wellesley Revisions. Victorian periodicals
Internet Library of Early Journals. Provides digital versions of substantial runs of 18th and 19th century journals, together with their associated bibliographic data
Macmillan News Archive, 1962-1991. A publishing company newsletter published between 1962 and 1991
Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (NCSE) a free, online edition of six nineteenth-century periodicals and newspapers
Obscure Contributors to 19th-century Periodicals
The Poetry of the Gentleman’s Magazine, 1731-1800. Emily Lorraine de Montluzin. The database provides users with a comprehensive, fully browsable and searchable list of the 12,365 poems (of which 4,763 are by identified authors) printed in the Gentleman’s Magazine from its beginning in 1731 through 1800.
The Quarterly Review Archive. Jonathan Cutmore
The Spectator Project: A Hypermedia Research Archive of 18th-c. Periodicals

Graphic Design, Typography, Illustration

Archivio Salani: illustrazione libraria tra Otto e Novecento. Laboratorio di Arti Visive of the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, with the contribution of Italian publisher Salani.  Database. See description above.
Database of Bookbindings. British Library
Database of Mid-Victorian Wood-Engraved Illustration. Cardiff University
Graphics Atlas. Image Permanence Institute. Online print identification tools
The Image of France, 1795-1880. Database of prints
Rare Images Database, Diet National Library. Database searchable in Japanese
Thomas L. Gravell Watermark Archive. University of Delaware

The 19th Century

At the Circulating Library: A Database of Three-Volume Victorian Fiction. Troy Bassett. Host: Victoria Research Web
British Fiction, 1800-29: A Database of Production, Circulation & Reception. Cardiff University
Forget Me Not: A Hypertextual Archive. Katherine Harris. A scholarly edition of the first British literary annual 1823-1847. Includes facsimile scans of pages, lists of authors, publishers, engravers, engraving titles, poem and prose titles.
19th-Century Books on Publishing and the Book Trade. Includes searchable catalogue
19th-Century Schoolbooks: A Demonstration Project. Digital Research Library

Wide Views, Broad Views

ABC for Book Collectors (classic glossary, 8th ed., ILAB). Downloadable text
Andy Holt Virtual Library. University of Tennessee-Martin. A concept library, focusing on the Humanities and Fine Arts
The Bookdealer Interviews. Sheila Markham
Book History Online: An International Bibliography (Koninklijke Bibliotheek). Searchable database
British Book Trade Index (BBTI). An index of the names and brief biographical details and trade details of people who worked in the book trade in England and Wales and who were trading by 1851
Japanese and Chinese Classics Database
Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. A meta search interface which allowing access to online library and book trade catalogs.
Memory of Paper. Paper, paper study, and paper history, providing resources in historical research of paper in Europe, expertise for paper documents, support for the creation of new paper databases, introduction to digital paper studies. The Bernstein project was co-funded by the EC programme eContentplus
Old Maps Online The Great Britain Historical GIS team, University of Portsmouth, working with Klokan Technologies. Search portal for historical maps
Scottish Archive of Print and Publishing History Records
Scottish Book Trade Index. Lists the names, trades,and addresses of people in printing in Scotland to 1850

 Studies and Projects

The resources listed below represent on-going and long-term projects to bring historical and bibliographical information to light or to make it more accessible. Some studies and projects have been undertaken by individuals or a single institution, but many also represent efforts by groups of people or institutions to gather data and make it available for comment. Many of the projects welcome contributions.


The Atlas of Early Printing. University of Iowa.
Bibliopolis: History of the Printed Book in the Netherlands.The electronic national history of the printed book in the Netherlands
Bibliotheca Eruditionis. A history of books and reading in Hungary
Early Printed Books Project. University of Oxford
Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History. Ian Maxted
Forget Me Not: A Hypertextual Archive. Katherine Harris. A scholarly edition of the first British literary annual 1823-1847. Includes facsimile scans of pages, lists of authors, publishers, engravers, engraving titles, poem and prose titles.
Historybooks: British Historians & the Book 1850-1950. Leslie Howsam
HoBo (formerly “History of the Book@Oxford”), book history events in the UK
The King’s Printer Project: Politics, Power & the Printed Word in the Reign of James I
Library History Database: British Isles to 1850. Robin Alston. Presently off-line. The database will be transferred to the Institute of English Studies in the School of Advanced Study at the University of London. Some access available via: Introduction; English Libraries; Scotland; Wales; Ireland (not including Dublin); Dublin; Islands; Place Index; List of Societies; Statistics; Sources. These links are taken from Wayback Machine archives and are not necessarily the most current data.
The London Book Trades Project: Researching 18th-c. London Book Production
Museu Virtual da Imprensa. Porto, Portugal
Private Libraries in Renaissance England Project. (PLRE) Creates a searchable database from book-lists and private libraries between the beginning of the 16th C. and the mid-17th C.
The Production and Use of English Manuscripts 1060 to 1220. Universities of Leeds and Leicester
Research on Authorship as Performance (RAP). Ghent University, Belgium. To chart the history of concepts of authorship in British and American culture from the mid-16th to the early 20th century.
Streetprint Bratislava. David Buchanan. An open source project, featuring contemporary Slovak print culture through multimedia narratives.
Universal Short Title Catalogue (USTC). University of St. Andrews. A bibliography of all books published in Europe between the invention of printing in 1450 and the end of the 16th century in 1600.

North America

Atlas of the Rhode Island Book Trade in the 18th Century. Rhode Island Historical Society
Book History and Literacies at Minnesota. Research at the University of Minnesota
Database of American Libraries before 1876. Davies Project, Princeton
The Edmonton Collection of Street Literature. Gary Kelly, Alberta
History of the Book in Canada
Paper through Time. University of Iowa.
Thomas Bird Mosher and the Mosher Press. Philip R. Bishop

The Wider World

Bichitra. School of Cultural Texts and Records, Jadavpur University, Sukanta Chaudhuri. An online variorum of the works Rabindranath Tagore, containing nearly all of his writings in Bengali and English, in all their versions, from manuscript to print. Features include text files of the works, collation software, a search engine, a checklist and bibliography of all Tagore’s manuscripts and works. The website can be navigated in English, Bengali and Hindi.
History of the Book in Australia
New Zealand Print Culture. University of Ontago. The current project aims to situate New Zealand’s unique print history within global accounts of print culture
Popular Romanticism. David Buchanan.
19th century publishing
Reading Experience Database, 1450-1945
Typefoundry: Documents for the History of Types and Letterforms. James Mosley
Urban Manuscripts Project. Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York
Waddleton Chronology of Colour Printed Illustrations. Norman Waddleton

 Bibliographies and Research Guides

The resources below provide extended listings of source material on their selected topic, while others provide guidance to researchers on the use of particular collections or lines of inquiry.

An Analytic Bibliography of Online Neo-Latin Texts. Dana F. Sutton. Latin texts written during the Renaisance and later, available online
Biblia Sacra bibliography of bibles printed in the Netherlands and Belgium
National Archives (UK) Research Guide to Stationers’ Hall Copyright Records
National Archives (UK) Research Guide to Newspapers and the Press
Bibliography of British Books for Children & Adolescents 1470-1770. Ruth Bottigheimer. SUNY
British Periodicals at Minnesota: The Early 19th Century
Lectures in Bibliography. Descriptive catalogue of major UK lectures, 1895-present. Ian Gadd
NYPL Research Guide to the History of Books and Printing. Bibliography
Recent Studies of 18th-century Book Culture (1989-2003). James E. May
Women Printers and Booksellers: A Checklist of Sources. Laura Sue Fuderer

 Discussion Groups

Ex Libris Rare books and manuscripts discussion group
J-HISTORY, journalism history discussion
SHARP-L. The discussion group of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing