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Literatures in English: Library Resources: Bibliographies: Primary

This page lists sources that cover multiple periods, genres, and/or nationalities. See additional resources in the "Historical Literary Period" and "Geographical Region" pages.

Finding Primary Bibliographies in Roger

Primary sources, in the context of literary studies, generally refers either to the manuscripts the author created when writing a work or to the editions of her or his works, published both during and since her or his lifetime.

With the exception of the archives of over 50 postwar American poets and several literary presses held in the Archive for New Poetry in Mandeville Special Collections, the UCSD Library has little, if any, manuscript material. We do have some books that reproduce literary manuscripts in facsimile format and, of course, there are many websites that have reproduced images of literary manuscripts. Geisel Library acquires major reading copies of all major English-language writers, many with scholarly notes and introductions. However, because detailed textual analysis is not a major research interest of many faculty and students at UCSD, some expensive, scholarly editions of Victorian authors may need to be borrowed from other UC campuses via Melvyl.

To determine which editions of an author's works are owned in print format by UCSD, simply enter the author's name in Roger, using the author search box.

To determine if the Library owns a comprehensive, enumerative or descriptive bibliography of the works of a particular author, use the author's name as a SUBJECT in Roger, followed by the word Bibliography."  For example: "Lawrence, D. H. (David Herbert), 1885-1930--Bibliography" will lead you to the 1963 and 2001 editions of D.H. Lawrence: A Bibliography, by Warren Roberts, as well as to others that may be useful.   

"Bibliography" may be used after a heading for a literary genre or period as well, although the bibliographies listed under these headings may be primary, secondary, or both. Examples:

American Poetry--Bibliography

English Fiction--19th Century--Bibliography

Ghost Stories, English--Bibliography.

A specific kind of primary bibliography is a published catalog of a specialized library or institutional collection of materials related to an author or broader topic. These can be found like this:

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616--Bibliography--Catalogs

Often, the published catalog of a scholarly exhibition contains useful bibliographical information. These can also be found in a similar way:

Milton, John, 1608-1674--Bibliography--Exhibitions


See Also

This page lists bibliographies of primary PRINTED materials. For information about Manuscript materials, use the Manuscripts & Archives tab.


WorldCat is the largest bibliographical database in the world. It is an example of a "union catalog," meaning that it not only lists bibliographical items but identifies libraries that own them.  It evolved from a statewide (Ohio) database of academic library catalogs, but quickly morphed into a nationwide and, to some extent, international database called OCLC (Online Computer Library Center). Because of its widespread adoption by U.S., Canadian, and U.K. academic libraries, as well as the national libraries of those countries (Library of Congress, British Library, National Library of Canada), there are relatively few books, journals, music scores, and audio-visual materials, at lesat in some edition, that are not cataloged in WorldCat. Increasingly, it contains bibliographic records for websites and manuscript collections. It is NOT an index to the individual articles in journals or individual chapters or essays in books, conference proceedings, etc.

Use the link above to search WorldCat by itself using the FirstSearch interface.  But WorldCat is also the destination of the "Libraries Worldwide" selection when you search in the UC system's union catalog, Melvyl.

With few exceptions, there are no full-texts in WorldCat. Also, because records are contributed by several thousand libraries, the quality and level of descriptive detail, subject access, table of contents, etc. vary. Using a record from WorldCat, Melvyl, Roger, or any other electronic or printed bibliography is NO SUBSTITUTE for consulting the actual book or other item described.

National Bibliography (Current)

Most developed countries attempt to produce some kind of periodic (usually annual) listing of the printed books produced there. These may be arranged alphabetically by author, by broad subjects, by a classification system (such as the Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal systems), by region, or some other method, usually with author and/or title indexes.

American Book Publishing Record (ABPR). NY et al.: Bowker, 1960-     . A classified list of books published or distributed in the U.S. that have been cataloged by the Library of Congress, excluding federal documents, dissertations, pamphlets under 49 pages, EL-HI textbooks, books intended primarily for advertising purposes, and books considered to be transitory in nature. Although LC has the legal right to obtain a copy of most books published in the U.S., these exceptions mean that it is not a complete record. Many of the excluded items will be found in WorldCat. Geisel Reference keeps the most recent three years' volumes at Z 1219 .A517; earlier volumes are stored at the Southern Regional Library Facility (SRLF) in Los Angeles.

British National Bibliography (BNB). [London]: British Library, Bibliographic Services Division, 1950-     . The main arrangement is by Dewey Decimal classification; U.S. literature (editions published in the U.K.) is Dewey 810's; British literature and that of its former colonies is in Dewey 820's. Title and author indices at the back. Published weekly with 4-month, annual, and larger cumulations. UCSD Library acquires only the annual cumulation and keeps the latest ten years in Geisel Reference at Z 2001 .B75.  Earlier volumes are at SRLF.

These two sources are the current standard national bibliographies. Each country has a long series of older sources that attempted to list all published books. Some of the major ones for Britain are described in the "Primary Bibliography" boxes on the pages for Early Modern, the Long Eighteenth Century, and The Victorian Period. The case of the U.S. is more complex, but the principal ones for the years 1639-1819 are the basis for two full-text databases listed in the Full Text box of the American Literature Before 1800 page. For additional details, see Harner.