Guide to the Research Collections

- Section -- I -- GENERAL MATERIALS
- PART TWO
- 15 -- RARE BOOK DIVISION
- RESOURCES
- Boxed Material (Billings *KVA-*KVZ)

Boxed Material (Billings *KVA-*KVZ)

These classmarks serve to cover a heterogeneous group of material including broadsides, cards, chapbooks, cries, New England primers, hornbooks, miniature books, peculiar printing, etc., much of it of considerable rarity and interest. Children's book rarities are well represented in the library and are discussed at length in chapter 21 of this Guide. Chapbooks are treated in chapter 40: some 2,650 items are in the Research Libraries and the Central Children's Room of the Branch Libraries. About 1,000 are in the Rare Book Division (classed under *KVD); the division's card index Chapbooks File is the official record. Schoolbooks are also an important feature. There is an outstanding collection of New England primers; the 139 examples include the New-England Primer Enlarged (Boston, 1727), the only known copy of the earliest surviving edition of this famed children's book. Textbooks issued in the Southern States during the reconstruction period are also of considerable interest.

The 20,000 broadsides are a strong feature of the division's holdings. The principal representation is American, in original and photostat form, including broadside ballads, proclamations, and carriers' addresses, the latter described in some detail in the section above on Rare Book Division special indexes and files. Included are 94 broadsides of the Continental Congress given by Worthington C. and Paul Leicester Ford in 1902 and 1907, and an acquisition of 86 pieces on the American Revolution from the Bancker collection.30

Broadside ballads form an attractive and cosmopolitan group. Collections of English and Irish street ballads of the nineteenth century and Confederate ballads of the Civil War in the Rare Book Division are supplemented by scrapbooks of broadside sea songs and sea ballads and about 500 mid-nineteenth-century American broadsides in the Drexel collection of the Music Division, and 6 albums of bound song sheets of nineteenth-century Florentine romanze d'amore and other forms in the Prints Division.

Miniature books (defined by the Rare Book Division as books under four inches in height) constitute an unusual collection of some 900 pieces. These include a gift from S. P. Avery in 1896 which contained John Taylor's "Thumb Bible" (169-), the Bible in Miniature (1780), and a number of other minute volumes and specimens of microscopic printing. Also included is an unusual collection of miniature Bibles in shorthand. J. D. Henderson's Lilliputian Newspapers (Worcester, Mass., 1936) shows the library to have an important representation in this field, with some unique copies. A number of the library's rarities are described in notes on an exhibition held in conjunction with the microbibliophilic group "The LXIVMOS.".31

The library some years ago established a collection of "typographical small wares"--ephemeral bits of printing such as ballots, blotters, bookmarks, calling cards, dance programmes, lottery tickets, rewards of merit, trade cards and similar materials which reflect printing styles during various periods.