Guide to the Research Collections

- Rare Book Division

Rare Book Division

American newspapers published before 1800, and other newspaper rarities, are kept in the Rare Book Division. The division maintains an active Newspapers Check List in two loose-leaf notebooks arranged by city and town.

Early British newspapers in the division include files of the St. James's Chronicle (1768-78), Lloyd's Evening post and British Chronicle (1758-81, incomplete), and the London Packet (1772-78), of added interest because they were published during the colonial and Revolutionary periods of American history. Many important examples of early seventeenth-century English newspapers or "newsbooks" came to the division in the Lonsdale collection, purchased in 1947.2

Other holdings include a group of facsimiles or later souvenir issues of rare newspapers such as the Ulster Country Gazette, of which the division has over thirty editions, although lacking the rare original issue of January 4, 1800.3 There are also the productions of amateur and toy presses, Lilliputian newspapers, and other materials.

This is one of the most important collections in the library. Early files and rare issues are numerous, among them Bradford's New-York Gazette, Zenger's Weekly Journal (the best file known), Parker's Post-Boy, and excellent files of Holt's Journal, Gaine's Mercury, and Farley's American Chronicle. Going beyond New York, the representation of Philadelphia newspapers includes extensive files of Franklin's Gazette and Bradford's Journal. The library's holdings of newspapers published before 1821 are recorded in Brigham's History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 (1947), although some files and issues have been added since its appearance. The division's holdings have been extended by photostat or microfilm files to include North Carolina newspapers before 1800, the Virginia Gazette, and the Kentucky Gazette.

Later American materials held in the division because of their value include the famous issue of the Vicksburg Daily Citizen of July 2, 1864, set by the staff of the newspaper but printed by Union soldiers after the fall of the city. Files of American Indian newspapers include a notable group of Cherokee newspapers for the period from 1828 to 1853.