Guide to the Research Collections



This subject class does not constitute one of the library's areas of outstanding strength. It is a diverse collection which includes standard and systematic works, popular studies, serials and collections, and ephemeral and fugitive materials. It is the library's general practice to secure any edition of older or standard works that contains a revised text or new material. A selection of standard historical works in editions suitable for reference is kept on the open shelves of the Main Reading Room.

The collections are strengthened by the large holdings of serial publications. Contemporaneous surveys include the Europische Mercurius (1690-1756) and the Diarium Europaeum (1659-83), the latter sometimes characterized as one of the forerunners of the modern newspaper. Periodical holdings are extensive and are mentioned in the discussion of the resources for the study of general and universal history in chapter 46 of this Guide. Most European newspaper files begin early in the twentieth century, but notable exceptions are the London Times (1785-) and earlier English papers described in the section on the history of Great Britain, and the Journal des débats politiques et littéraires from Paris (1814-1942, incomplete). The Annex Section currently receives major European newspapers such as the Manchester Guardian, the London Times, Figaro and Le Monde from Paris, and Le Soir from Brussels.

The library has placed particular emphasis on the collecting of pamphlets. There are now more than 7,000 pamphlets cataloged under the heading of collections, essays, and miscellanies on European history; in 1941 the collections numbered 300 bound volumes of pamphlets estimated at 3,600 separate pieces. This group is particularly strong in eighteenth-century imprints. Among the more specialized collections, strong holdings of pamphlets, periodicals, and official documents of the French Revolution include more than 15,000 pamphlets.

General historical studies cover the full range of European history. There are good historical collections for the study of classical Greek and Roman history, although the most important works are more closely classified; for example, learned and society publications in this area are frequently located with materials on archaeology and philology. Materials for the study of Medieval and Renaissance history are held in strength, and include series such as Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Rolls Series, and the like. The Spencer Collection contains finely illustrated and bound books and manuscripts, many of which are important to historical research. The General Research and Humanities Division acquires facsimiles of early books and manuscripts interesting both for their historical and artistic content. Materials on heraldry are found in the Local History and Genealogy Division.

Materials for the study of modern European history are more than adequate, with much supplementary information in the strong holdings of public documents.

Public Documents

Official publications, issued by governments and international associations such as the League of Nations and the United Nations, form one of the extensive and important archives of the Research Libraries. Government publications may be divided into three categories: those concerning foreign relations, those relating to national affairs, and those devoted to local matters. Of particular importance in the study of general European history are those dealing with foreign relations.

This group includes diplomatic series; special mention may be made of the German Weissbuch, the French Documents diplomatiques, and the English Diplomatic and Consular Reports, most of these beginning in the nineteenth century. This material is indexed and fully analyzed in the library's catalogs. The various series corresponding to the English "Blue Books" for other European nations are also included. English, French, and German publications predominate, although the collections are strong for all countries and periods.

Resources for the study of international relations include an extensive collection of treaties. These are held in several locations but are brought together in the 3,600 entries under the subject heading "Treaties" in the Public Catalog. This number does not include treaties on certain subjects (for example, commercial treaties, for which there are 2,000 entries); separate treaties are in some cases classified under the name of the country concerned. The library has the important collected series of treaties, in addition to

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separate treaties from as early as the seventeenth century.


The Bancroft and Hardwicke collections in the Manuscripts and Archives Division contain items of interest for the study of eighteenth-century Europe.1 Collections related directly to the American Revolution, but also of importance to the study of European history, include the American Loyalist papers2 and the Chalmers collection with transcripts of European archives and official records, and the Myers collection, notable for autographs of distinguished English, French, and Hessian officers.3

The Harkness collection contains a number of historical manuscripts ranging from Charles I to Edward VIII, including English, French, and other European figures.4 Notable in the Montague collection is a fine group of more than 225 autograph letters of Henry, Viscount Bolingbroke, with 4 letter-books, for the years 1710 to 1714. Additional holographs include English royalty (37 letters and 8 signed documents of Queen Victoria) and other English, French, Italian, German, and Austrian figures. The Berg Collection has a variety of European documents of historical interest.5