Guide to the Research Collections



The collection of some 25,000 books and pamphlets relating to political science per se is strong; taken in conjunction with related materials in other subject classes it may be characterized as very strong. While this subject did not receive attention as early as some others, J.J. Astor's gift of $12,000 in 1882 was used in part to fill important gaps. The library has continued to add historical and current materials.

Periodicals of the late nineteenth and the twentieth century are very well represented. Included are such titles as the Egyptian Political Science Review (1962-), the Polish Odnowa (1959-61, incomplete), Political Science Quarterly (1886-), Zeitschrift für Politik (1907- , incomplete), and many others. Holdings of bibliographical serials include such publications as Bibliographie der Sozialwissenschaften (Bibliographie der Staats-und Wirtschaftswissenschaften) (1905-), International Bibliography of Political Science (1952-), and Bulletin analytique de documentation politique, economique et sociale contemporaine (1946-).

Monographic publications are available from the very earliest periods. Subject entries in the public catalogs are dated; under such entries as "Political Science, 1500-1600" will be found books first written or published during that period. The library is rich in first and early editions of the classics in this field, including the works of Jean Bodin, Robert Filmer, Hobbes, Spinoza, and Montesquieu, among others. There are many copies of the works of Thomas Paine, among them a number of early editions of his famous pamphlet Common Sense, first issued in Philadelphia in 1776 and passing immediately through many printings. The Rare Book Division has the first edition, first issue and also the first edition in German, published in Philadelphia during the same year.

Later editions of these and other rarities are added to the collections if they contain additional scholarship. New works on all aspects of the subject are collected comprehensively. A study made at the University of Chicago some years ago revealed that of a list of books on political science judged by experts as necessary in the collection of a great library, the New York Public Library had approximately 90 percent. Another study made at the same university showed that of the books on political science published throughout the world, the library had more than the five largest Chicago libraries combined.4

Various manuscript collections furnish additional coverage to the very strong holdings of book materials in such areas as socialism, anarchism, and communism. The Kennan collection includes the letters of Catherine Brehkovskaya, known as the Grandmother (Babushka) of the Russian Revolution, among other materials;5 the papers of Norman Thomas, Emma Goldman, William Frey, and others also contain much of importance.

The archives of the American Civil Liberties Union of New York, formerly deposited with the Manuscripts and Archives Division, were transferred to Princeton University in 1950; the library has retained a microfilm file, and has in addition

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the papers (1896-1938) of Frank P. Walsh, who was active in the Union for many years.

Government as an area of study is another important feature of the library's collections, with an extensive representation of older works. Materials on parliamentary procedure include not only the early editions of the classics (Robert's Rules of Order, Cushing's Parliamentary Practice, Dodd's Parliamentary Companion, etc.), but recent manuals as well. There is also a good collection of the official manuals of nations and the smaller units of government throughout the world.

Holdings on suffrage include specific materials (histories, and works on theory) as well as vast resources of historical works in the general collections. Additional rich source materials may be found in the holdings of public documents. Woman suffrage is discussed more fully in the section of this chapter dealing with woman as a subject.



This subject is strongly represented in the Research Libraries; the collecting policy is comprehensive. Over 5,000 entries in the Public Catalog relate to slavery with many other headings for associated topics. An important section deals with the abolition of slavery and controversial literature on the subject: for the United States alone there are about 1,600 entries. Some 1,000 pamphlets from many countries are often of additional importance as examples of the earliest imprints from the towns or countries in which they were published. Other subject headings leading to relevant information are "African Slave Trade," "Slave Trade," and the names of individual slave ships: under "Amistad (Schooner)" 15 entries include both contemporary pamphlets and index entries for later periodical articles. More than 60 entries are found under "Captivities, Barbary States," ranging in date from the late seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century. References are also made to the Las Casas tracts published in 1552 and 1553 dealing with South American Indian slavery, to be found in the Rare Book Division. Other related subjects with extensive representations include indentured servants in colonial America, coolie labor, and the padrone system.

The collections include early abolitionist periodicals, among them the Anti-Slavery Reporter (1825-32) and the Reports of the Directors (1807-25) of the African Institution, London. Recent materials on civil liberties and civil rights are available, including Civil Liberties (1949-) and the Civil Rights News Letter (1956-) of the Civil Rights League of Cape Town.

The Schomburg Center has a strong collection on slavery represented by about 5,000 card entries in its dictionary catalog covering such diverse aspects of the subject as fiction, fugitive slaves, insurrections, law, periodicals, poetry, and the like. Among these may be noted slave narratives, including those of Gustavus Vassa, born in Benin in 1746 and carried into slavery at the age of twelve, and manuscript poems and early editions of the works of Phillis Wheatley, a slave girl. Additional information is found under such related headings as "Slave Trade," and "Slavery and the Bible." The Schomburg Center also has actual slave certificates of registration and bills of sale for the purchase of slaves.


In addition to the noted Schomburg Center holdings, the Ford, Myers, and Bancroft collections of the Manuscripts and Archives Division contain important materials on slavery. Other items include logs and journal books of ships engaged in the slave trade, and of American and British naval vessels cruising off the coasts of Africa and South America in search of slave ships. The division holds the minutes of the executive committee of the Dutchess County (New York) Anti-Slavery Society for 1838 to 1840. There are also the letters of Elizabeth L. Van Lew (1818-1900), who was an abolitionist as well as an agent of the United States Secret Service at Richmond, Virginia, during the Civil War; and other diaries, accounts of slave insurrections, appraisals of property including slaves, etc. In 1903 Georgina Schuyler presented several thousand letters relating to Pierre Toussaint, the Santo Domingo slave who was freed by his émigré owners, and became a hairdresser in New York. He was an intimate of prominent citizens and a guide and adviser to persons of his own race until his death in 1849. From South America a "Discursos sobre el Estado y pobreza en que se halla El Nuevo Reyno de Granada" by Juan de Sologuren, accountant of the Royal Treasury, is dated July 24, 1630 to October 28, 1632. Sologuren urges the importation of African slaves to replace Indians in the mines of New Granada.

In the Arents Tobacco Collection a large group of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century manuscript documents from Frederick County, Maryland, includes slave bills and other materials concerning slavery.

Civil Service

This is an extensive and noteworthy collection. For the United States the publications adequately cover federal, state, and city groups, with particular emphasis on materials related to New York state and New York City. Foreign materials include the publications of Great Britain and the British Commonwealth of Nations, and less extensively, those of continental European countries which have civil service. The publications are both official and unofficial, although the former are more fully represented. Registers and rosters of civil service employees are not located in the civil service classification: registers of countries, states, and cities are classed with government documents, while works pertaining to a special subject are classed with that subject. Pension materials, for example, including those relating to special classes of civil servants, are classed under the subject "Pensions, Civil, Military, and Naval."

Municipal Affairs

Lengthy files of periodicals and numerous reports of surveys and studies are noteworthy features of this collection. These include not only routine commercial publications but also those of official bureaus and departments of municipalities, as well as others from civic clubs and organizations whose purpose is to improve municipal affairs. The collection of city and regional planning reports is very good. Special emphasis is also given to materials on American cities, particularly New York. The holdings on city planning, of such importance in recent years and promising to be

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of increasing concern in the future, are located in several divisions of the library. Sociological and economic aspects of the subject covered in public documents and other publications are in the Economic and Public Affairs Division; the technical aspects are in the Science and Technology Research Center; most other aspects of the subject are administered by the General Research and Humanities Division, with the major exception of artistic and architectural materials, which are in the Art and Architecture Division.

Colonization, Immigration, Emigration

This strong collection is documented under several subject headings in the Public Catalog of the library. Under "Colonies and Colonization," for example, are approximately 4,400 entries covering such aspects of the subject as bibliographies, guides for immigrants, law, proceedings of congresses, etc. Former British colonies are fully covered with 1,100 entries (an additional 300 appear under the heading "Commonwealth of Nations"); colonies and former colonies of Portugal, France, and Germany are well represented.

Periodicals are a strong feature of the resources in this subject area, ranging from the early African Repository (1825-92) and publications of the Aborigines' Protection Society to some 20 titles currently received including Civilisations (1951-), Congo (Brussels, 1920-), Tropiques (Paris, 1948-), Venture; Journal of the Fabian Colonial Bureau (1949-), and others.

The subject heading "Emigration and Immigration" in the Public Catalog locates much of interest. Most of the works relating to the United States are classed here, including 1,100 card entries arranged in geographical sequence by states of the Union. More specialized information on immigration into the United States is found in the Local History and Genealogy Division and concerns persons, families, and national groups who have come to this country since the sixteenth century.6 Representative of periodicals is the Scottish Genealogist, largely devoted to research on families of Scottish descent in America. The library holds the serial and monographic publications of the Immigration Restriction League of Boston.

Information on the Zionist movement is to be found in the Jewish Division, located under the catalog entry "Palestine--Colonization" for early titles and "Emigration and Immigration--Israel" for titles published after the establishment of the state of Israel. There is also much material on the Youth Aliyah Office.