Early American Literature Guide

Part I -- Bibliographic Sources of Early American Printed Works
Part 2 -- Microprint Sources which Reproduce Early American Printed Works
Part 3 -- Instruction for Locating Microprint Reproductions in Early American Imprints in the Library

Bibliographic Sources Which List and Describe Original Texts


Evans, Charles. American Bibliography: A chronological dictionary of all books, pamphlets, and periodical publications printed in the United States of America from the genesis of printing in 1639 down to and including the year 1820.
15 vols. (Later referred to as Evans.) Evans intended to carry his bibliography through 1820, but in fact stopped with 1800.
ref Z1215 E923

Shipton, Clifford Kenyon and Mooney, James E. National Index of American Imprints Through 1800; the Short-Title Evans.
2 vols. (later referred to as Shipton) Shipton corrects and adds to Evans. It serves as an index to the microcard collection of Early American Imprints which is located on the southwest 2nd floor wall.
ref Z1215 S495 & Microcards Z1215 S495

Bristol, Roger P. Supplement to Charles Evans' American Bibliography.
2 vols. (later referred to as Bristol) Items are listed chronologically, and include Evans supplement numbers for locating reproductions in Early American Imprints. Most of the items listed by Bristol do not appear in either Evans or Shipton.
ref Z 1215 E92334


Sabin, Joseph. Bibliotheca Americana or A Dictionary of Books Relating to America from its Discovery to the Present Time.
29 vols. Sabin cites books, pamphlets and periodicals printed in the Western Hemisphere and works about the region printed elsewhere. Items are listed by author. Anonymous works are listed under "the most obvious subject." Many anonymous works are listed under the places (states, cities, etc.) to which they refer. Coverage of individual volumes varies. See the preface to volume 29 for details.
ref Z 1201 S2

Thompson, Lawrence S. The New Sabin
11 vols. Books described by Joseph Sabin and his successors, now described again on the basis of examination of originals and fully indexed by title, subject, joint authors, and institutions and agencies. Works are listed alphabetically by author or title within each volume. Cumulative author-title-subject index in volume 11.
ref Z1201 T45

Shaw, Ralph R. & Richard H. Shoemaker. American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801-1819.
19 vols. A checklist compiled from secondary sources such as publishers' lists. Within each yearly volume, items are listed alphabetically by author or title. Almost completes Evans' goal of cataloging early American imprints through 1820.
ref Z1215 S48

Shoemaker, Richard H. Checklist of American Imprints for 1820-
The Library has volumes covering 1820-1844. Compiled from secondary sources. Items are listed alphabetically within yearly volumes. Gives locations of known originals and fuller titles than Roorbach. Cumulative author and title indexes cover 1820-1829 and 1830-1839.
ref Z1215 S5

Roorbach, Orville A. Bibliotheca Americana, Catalogue of American Publications Including Reprints and Original Works from 1820-1852, Inclusive.
1 vol. (plus 3 supplements to 1861) A checklist, giving publisher, size, price, and only sometimes, date. Items are listed alphabetically by author or title. Periodicals are listed separately at the back.
ref Z1215 A3 1939


Kelly, James. The American Catalogue of Books (Original and Reprints) Published in the United States from Jan. 1861-Jan. 1871.
2 vols. Continues Roorbach and provides the same kind of information. Each volume includes a list of learned and literary societies and their publications. Kelly and the earlier Roorbach are recognized to be incomplete and often inaccurate. They must be used, however, because they are the most general lists for the 1820-1870 period.
ref A1215 A4

The American Catalogue ... of Books in Print and For Sale...
13 vols. The standard bibliographical source for 1876-1910. Follows the format of Roorbach and Kelly, but adds subject indexes. American Catalogue is considered comprehensive and generally reliable, although information was based on publishers' reports rather than actual examination of the items.
ref Z1215 A52


Microprint Sources Which Contain Reproductions of Original Texts

FOR THE PERIOD 1639 - 1800

Early American Imprints
Reproduces many of the items listed in Evans, Shipton and Bristol. Shelved on the second floor of Meriam Library, the southwest wall.
Microcards Z1215 E3


Library of American Civilization
Reproductions of "material relating to all aspects of American life and literature, from their beginnings to the outbreak of World War I." Includes books, pamphlets, periodicals, biographies and autobiographies, poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Author, title and subject indexes plus a broad topical index, the BiblioGuide, are kept on top of the microcard cabinet 121. Microcards are filed by LAC numbers. The BiblioGuide groups items under 29 major topics and many subtopics. Topics include early exploration, the frontier, Afro-Americans, Amerindians, biographies, daily life, immigration and minorities, music and dance, literature, etc. Many periodical articles are cited, and reproductions of several of the periodicals indexed in Poole's Index may be found here.
Microcard LAC cabinet 121 and
Biblioguide: Media and Microforms Z1236 L59 shelved on top of microform cabinet.

American Periodical Series: eighteenth century
Reproduces entire issues of 18th century periodicals. American Periodicals... a guide to the ...collection (reference PS 655 A552) is shelved on top of periodicals microfilm periodical cabinet #35 in the Media and Microforms collection. It gives reel numbers for locating specific periodicals. These periodicals are also listed in the Library catalog. The library has reel numbers 1-33 only, although the Guide includes many 19th century titles also.
Microfilm PS655 A55
ref PS655 A552 shelved with the microfilm

Western Americana: A collection of 1,012 books and documents of the 18th, 19th and early 20th century
An annotated bibliography of this collection is shelved above microfiche cabinet in the Media and Microforms collection. It is arranged by topics and includes author and title indexes. Individual works are also listed in the Library catalog.
Microfiche F591 W4635


Locating Reproductions of Early American Imprints microcard set, 1639-1800s

Shipton's National Index of American Imprints is the official finding aid for this microcard set. Shipton lists items alphabetically by author or title if the author is not known and provides a number for finding the item in the microcard set. Shipton verified and corrected many items listed by Charles Evans. Evans depended on publishers' announcements for information and many of his items have never been located. Note: Early American Imprints and the National Index are located on the second floor southwest wall.
Microcard Z1215 S495
ref Z1215 S495

Evans' American Bibliography is often consulted in addition to Shipton because it provides full descriptive titles and bibliographic information necessary to identify particular items. Evans lists items according to the year of publication and provides a classified subject index in each yearly volume. Volume 14 is a cumulative author-title index to the set. The subject indexes provide broad headings such as Biography (including funeral sermons), Theology (including other sermons), Literature (including newspapers and magazines), History, Law, etc. Items about Native Americans appear under at least three different headings: History, Languages, and Law. There is also an index to printers.

The Evans number may be used to locate a microcard reproduction, but only if it is verified in Shipton. In the examples below, the Evans item numbered 1859 does not exist. Shipton has corrected Evans and provided a similar title which is available in the microcard set under a different Evans number (1784).
ref Z1215 E923

Example in Evans The Evans number is shown in bold
An Almanack for . . .1717A.D.
New-York: Printed by William Bradford. 1716. 12 mo(pub.date)

Example in Shipton The Evans/Shipton number is shown in bold
Travis, Daniel.
MDCCXVI. An Almanack
New London and Boston, 1716. [16] pp.
(No copy of the New York edition listed by Evans is known; possibly his entry is a ghost of this imprint.)
AAS copy. 1784

To locate an author or title not listed in Evans or Shipton, use Bristol's Supplement to Charles Evans (ref Z 1215 E92334). Copy the mp (microprint) number shown in bold below. This is also called the Evans supplement number. Bristol lists items according to year of publication. Volume two contains author-title and publisher-printer indexes. Bristol includes many items not in Evans including many broadsides.

Example in Bristol The Evans supplement number is shown in bold
Air balloon. The subscriber...is perfectly acquainted with
the...construction of Air Balloons...
New York, June 10, 1789 [New York, 1789]
broadside 34 x 20.5 cm. mp. 45463

Locate your Evans or Evans Supplement - mp number in Early American Imprints, a microcard set located on the southwest wall of the second floor. Early American Imprints does not include reproductions of periodicals and serials listed by Evans or of items erroneously listed by him

View the microcards using the Readex microcard reader. For help in locating and using the microcards or the reader, ask for assistance in the Media and Microforms area. Readex microcards are a very old technology. The readers cannot be replaced. There is no way to make paper copies of these microcards.

Compiled by Barbara Pease/Henrietta Lo

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