Guide to the Research Collections
English literature is collected on a comprehensive basis in all genres. Works from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa are collected on a representative basis, as are those in Gaelic and Welsh; in fact, literary works in English are sought wherever they are published, and current material is being acquired from India, Jamaica, Japan, and Singapore.
The resources in English literature exceed those in American by some 40,000 volumes. A tabulation of the growth of the collections follows:1
Exceptional holdings of first and important editions, literary manuscripts, and authors' correspondence in the Berg Collection augment the general collections. Although the Manuscripts and Archives Division is not particularly rich in British literary materials, it has important holdings in Irish papers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Arents Collection of Books in Parts contains many literary editions first published in series, reflecting the great popularity of periodical publication in the nineteenth century. The Arents Tobacco Collection has acquired first editions, typescripts, holograph manuscripts, and letters and notes containing references to tobacco or smoking made by noted English authors. The Spencer Collection's holdings of illustrated books include many English literary classics.2
All important English literary bibliographies, dictionaries, and periodicals are held by the library. Periodical coverage includes literary publications of the seventeenth century such as The Gentleman's Journal
and The Athenian Gazette; The Tatler, The Spectator, The Guardian
and similar titles of the eighteenth century; and Blackwood's, Edinburgh Magazine, The Edinburgh Review,
and others of the nineteenth century. In addition to files of important journals such as Anglia and Review of English Studies,
there are the publications of the Chaucer Society, Spenser Society, English Dialect Society, and important sets such as The Harleian Miscellany.
The library currently receives approximately thirty British literary periodicals.3
A valuable feature of the Public Catalog is the selective indexing of contributions appearing in serials. Literary form headings group all materials represented in the catalog under one alphabetical index by author under a heading for forms, such as "English Literature--Collected Works."
A fairly strong archive of ballads and songs includes printed collections and an extensive collection of broadside ballads. Related sources include a full collection of folk songs (generally with musical notation) in the Music Division, where they are indexed by title and first line.
Standard authors are well represented in collections arranged by literary forms; authors' works are found both in individual and collected editions. The latter are added if they contain new material, valuable criticism, or noteworthy illustrations. Although substantial holdings of first editions of the major authors of nineteenth-century
-------------------------------------------- page 97
fiction are found in the library, holdings of first editions of secondary novelists are not strong. Authors of recognized merit are usually represented by full collections of their works, and a selection is made from the work of less established authors.