Guide to the Research Collections



As noted in the introductory paragraph of this chapter, the dictionary catalog of the Manuscripts and Archives Division is a guide, rather than an itemized list. Most of the bulky collections are represented by concise descriptions, added subject entries, and numerous cross-references. Inventories or brief listings are generally available for unprocessed material. The division catalog contains no entries for manuscripts in other divisions of the library.

The division follows in practice the subject headings used in the library's Public Catalog; many of these have undergone revision due to the varied nature of manuscript materials. Additional changes arise from cooperation with the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections and an attempt to conform to that system of entry.

One very important group of materials for which no entries appear in the catalog is the collection of miscellanies. These series include single items or small collections not part of a larger unit and not sufficiently significant to warrant special

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cataloging. Miscellanies are arranged in alphabetical order by name, subject, and geographical area. This valuable source of original autographs is the nucleus from which individual collections are built by later accessions.

The division maintains a semi-active Letters Catalog (18 card drawers), which provides an alphabetical listing by name of the writers of letters in a few of the collections. Heavily weighted with material from the Emmet collection, the file is far from complete; it is not duplicated in the dictionary catalog.

Additional autograph material is indexed in the Autograph and Provenance File of the Rare Book Division, which locates signatures and manuscript inscriptions in books shelved in the Rare Book Division and in the Spencer Collection.

Typescript calendars or inventories provide detailed information about the contents of some 150 of the more important collections in the Manuscripts and Archives Division. Inventories for many smaller collections are found in the manuscript containers with the material. The catalogs of the important Gansevoort-Lansing papers and the Garrison-McKim-Maloney collection (containing Irish historical material, the Roger Casement papers, etc.) form appendices to the published dictionary catalog of the division.1

Among the important separate calendars are the following:

The card catalog of the division has been published in book form in two volumes by G.K. Hall & Company (Boston, 1967). Listed below are a number of additional printed sources of information about the holdings of the Manuscripts and Archives Division which, while not complete in themselves, are serviceable when used in conjunction with the specialized reference assistance provided by the staff of the division.

During the period 1915 to 1948 there appeared annually in the Bulletin of the library a record of the year's manuscript acquisitions. Numerous articles on important additions have appeared in the Bulletin and can be located through the published Index. The library began to list new accessions in the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections in 1963.