University of Virginia Library

Although it is true in most fields of knowledge that new discoveries are often announced first in periodical articles and only later consolidated into more comprehensive books, this situation is particularly characteristic of bibliography. Given the nature of the subject, many contributions inevitably consist of brief notes or articles on individual copies of a book, providing facts which supplement a previously published bibliography or which augment the accumulated evidence about a given printing or publishing practice. As time passes and a sizable body of information develops, a new book, drawing the scattered material together, may be called for; but until that time, those periodical pieces represent the current state of knowledge. Perhaps the classic instance in the field of bibliography is McKerrow's Introduction to Bibliography (1927), which has been the standard guide for over forty years but which has naturally (and increasingly) required supplementing by reference to current research as reported in the journals.

Obviously a cumulated index to periodical articles is an essential reference tool in any field, but the surprising thing about bibliography is what little effort has been made, until recently, to provide this kind of coverage.[1] When Studies in Bibliography included in its third volume a "Selective Check List of Bibliographical Scholarship" for 1949,


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it was inaugurating what was to become one of its most important services to bibliographers—a listing of the principal contributions of each year, including separately published monographs as well as articles in periodicals. That service has now covered more than twenty years' work and has twice been provided with cumulative indexes (in the separate issue of the lists for 1949-55 and for 1956-62), making it even more convenient to consult. One has no complaint, therefore, about the indexing of bibliographical articles from 1949 on—though the SB lists cannot hope to be complete and do not try to be (they are called "Selective Check Lists"). It may therefore be necessary in certain kinds of bibliographical research to consult other general indexes for items not included (such as a brief history of a publishing firm in Publishers' Weekly or a book review on a bibliographical subject),[2] but these lists do an outstanding job of recording what can sensibly be called "scholarship" and have caused 1949 to be regarded as the great dividing line by anyone in the process of searching out bibliographical articles.[3]

For the period before 1949 a few guides to bibliographical work exist, but they are not comparable to the SB lists in coverage of periodical material on English and American books. The principal one is probably the series of current lists[4] which have appeared in the Zentralblatt für Bibliothekswesen since its inception in 1884; though the emphasis is on separate publications, especially those relating to libraries, the lists do contain some English and American articles. For the periods 1904-12 and 1922-26 annual (and indexed) cumulations, issued under the title Bibliographie des Bibliotheks- und Buchwesens (1905-27), make these lists easier to consult; and the expanded cumulation which followed, the Internationale Bibliographie des Buch- und Bibliothekswesens [IBBB] (1928-41), covering 1926-40, is particularly


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useful, since it includes about two dozen prominent English-language journals, such as the Library, the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America [PBSA], Publishers' Weekly, Publishers' Circular, and Penrose Annual. Similarly, Library Literature surveys a field which overlaps bibliography, and it indexes—besides a great many library periodicals, as would be expected—the Library, PBSA, Publishers' Weekly, and Publishers' Circular.[5] In addition, a selection of English and American items can be located in the "Bibliography" section of the Modern Humanities Research Association's Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (1921- ), with coverage from 1920, and in the sections on printing, publishing, periodicals, and book arts in Writings on American History (covering 1902-03, 1906-40, 1948-57; published 1904-64), Writings on British History (covering 1901-45; published 1937-68), Bibliography of British History (1928- ), and Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (1940, 1957, 1969- ). Other cumulative lists which may yield additional periodical material include E. C. Bigmore and C. W. H. Wyman's great Bibliography of Printing (1880-86); Talbot B. Reed's "A List of Books and Papers on Printers and Printing, under the Countries and Towns to Which They Refer," Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, 3 (1895-96), 81-152; George T. Watkins's Bibliography of Printing in America (1906); Clark S. Northup's A Register of Bibliographies of the English Language and Literature (1925); Nathan Van Patten's An Index to Bibliographies and Bibliographical Contributions Relating to the Work of American and British Authors, 1923-1932 (1934); Alan R. Eager's A Guide to Irish Bibliographical Material (1964); T. H. Howard-Hill's Index to British Literary Bibliography (1969- ); and G. T. Tanselle's Guide to the Study of United States Imprints (1971).[6]


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Even after checking these lists, a bibliographer still cannot be sure that he is drawing from a reservoir containing all the articles in all the principal bibliographical journals of the period. What he must do, to come closer to this goal, is to consult several further kinds of index. One is the guide to articles in a specified group of bibliographical journals. The best-known of these is George Watson Cole's excellent Index to Bibliographical Papers Published by the Bibliographical Society and the Library Association (1933), covering the period 1877-1932—essentially an index to the Bibliographical Society's Transactions (1893-1920), the Library (1889-1932), Bibliographica (1895-97), and the Library Association Record (1899-1929). A successor to this index is Michael Turner's forthcoming "Bodleian Index to Certain Bibliographical Journals," which will cover, from 1933 through 1965, the Library, PBSA, Studies in Bibliography, Book Handbook, Book Collector, and Bibliotheck, as well as the publications of the bibliographical societies of Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. Another kind of index, which can be used to supplement both of these works, is the cumulative index to a single periodical—such as that for PBSA (as of 1931 and 1951) and for the Bulletin of the New York Public Library (as of 1936, 1946, and 1962).[7] Cumulative indexes before 1942 can be located through Daniel C. Haskell's A Check List of Cumulative Indexes to Individual Periodicals in the New York Public Library(1942).[8]


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Finally, one can turn to the general periodical indexes, most of which cover at least a few journals of bibliographical interest. Poole's Index, for example, covers the early years of the Library and Library Journal, along with the Bibliographer, Bibliographica, and such other late nineteenth-century journals as Book-Lore, Bookworm, and the American Bibliopolist. For the twentieth century, the Readers' Guide indexes Publishers' Weekly and several of the library periodicals, while the Social Sciences and Humanities Index (formerly International Index) includes, during part of its run, PBSA and the Library, as well as Colophon, Library Quarterly, Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, and a few other periodicals with occasional bibliographical material. The Annual Magazine Subject Index [9] also takes up PBSA and the Library, plus certain library journals and a number of typographical publications, such as Printing Art, Print, and Graphic Arts. The central group of library journals is again surveyed in the Internationale Bibliographie der Zeitschriftenliteratur [IBZ], along with Publishers' Weekly, Publishers' Circular, the Library, and, for a few years, American Printer, British Printer, and Printing Art; in recent years the coverage of IBZ has been so enormous (now roughly 13,000 periodicals) that one might expect more bibliographical journals to be included—indeed, there are considerably more of them in recent years—but for the pre-1949 period the IBZ is not markedly richer in bibliographical material than the other periodical indexes. Similarly, the British Humanities Index (formerly Subject Index to Periodicals), aside from a dozen or so library journals, records only a few bibliographical journals—the Library and PBSA, the publications of the bibliographical societies of Oxford and Glasgow, and—only after the beginning of the SB lists—Signature, Typographica, Penrose Annual, and Book Collector. Although there is much overlapping of coverage among these periodical indexes,[10] and although many bibliographical journals are not covered in them at all, they are worth checking, since stray articles of a bibliographical nature can always turn up in some of the general magazines indexed in them.

One could go on making further suggestions for tracking down articles, but the point is clear: for pre-1949 material, no one index to bibliographical literature provides a counterpart to the SB lists, and,


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if one wishes to approximate the SB coverage, one must make a time-consuming check of a number of lists. Periodical indexes can of course be constructed in either of two ways—as an attempted record of all material, wherever published, that is relevant to a given subject, or as a survey of a specified list of journals. Of the indexes mentioned here, Library Literature and the guides to historical writings are good examples of the subject approach, while the standard general periodical indexes are examples of indexes based on fixed groups of journals. Since the subject areas covered—such as librarianship and printing—are less broad than the whole field of bibliography and since the bibliographical journals covered in the general indexes naturally represent only a selection from the full range of bibliographical periodicals, neither group of presently existing indexes provides a really satisfactory control of serial bibliographical material before 1949. Of course, persons interested primarily in a particular author will find bibliographical articles gathered together with other material about that author in each year's issue of the MLA International Bibliography and the MHRA Annual Bibliography and in other guides to literary scholarship. But the fact that bibliographical articles do get listed in this way does not mean that a listing devoted exclusively to bibliographical articles is superfluous—an article on a particular writer, for example, may employ an unfamiliar bibliographical technique, and the bibliographical importance of the article may not be as readily recognized if it is not recorded in a bibliographical context. There is simply no substitute for a serial listing which takes bibliography as its field of knowledge. The SB lists are important because they do more than cover a limited list of periodicals; instead, they try to include all the significant scholarship in physical bibliography, wherever it happens to appear, and, in doing so, they provide a means for measuring the growth of bibliographical knowledge at the same time that they furnish a tool which facilitates the further accumulation of that knowledge.[11]


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Since there is no real counterpart for the period before 1949, it becomes particularly important to be aware of the main bibliographical journals of the period and of the places (if any) where each is indexed. Surveying the journals which might reasonably be expected to publish bibliographical material is complicated, however, by the variety of fields and publications that are related to the study of the book in its broadest sense—ranging from the scholarly papers of bibliographical societies to the trade journals of the printing industry. While a journal of librarianship may not very often have an article relevant to physical bibliography and while a book-trade magazine may not usually publish anything that could be called scholarship, both are undeniably sources of information which may be helpful to bibliographers. The most extensive convenient listing of these journals is Carolyn F. Ulrich and Karl Küp's Books and Printing: A Selected List of Periodicals, 1800-1942 (1943); its thousands of entries show the great extent of this literature and provide a place where one can turn for the names of lesser-known journals relevant to all aspects of book production.[12] Because I had occasion, in preparing my Guide to the Study of United States Imprints, to examine the indexing of these varieties of journals somewhat more systematically than I had done before, and perhaps more systematically than bibliographers generally have time to do, I thought it might prove useful to draw this information together in concise form. Accordingly, I shall make some comments in the following pages on the indexing of five classes of periodicals:[13] journals of bibliographical societies (and related scholarly bibliographical journals of a general nature); book-collecting journals; magazines dealing with printing and typography; trade journals of the publishing industry (or other industries—aside from printing—related


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to the production or distribution of printed books); and library journals (both general periodicals and those associated with particular libraries). Following these discussions is a table surveying more precisely the coverage of the principal journals in the nine most prominent relevant indexes.[14]