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The Development of the United States Collection, Department of Printed Books, British Museum

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 January 2009

I. R. Willison
British Museum


The British Museum Library was established by statute in 1753, and since then the development of its collection of printed books has passed through three major phases corresponding to, and interacting with, three phases in the development of the aims and organization of scholarship in general.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1967

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page 79 note 1 The fullest repertory of facts relating to the Museum's collection of printed books up to the Second World War is contained in Esdaile, Arundell, The British Museum Library (1946)Google Scholar.

page 79 note 2 See, for example, Johnson's advice to George III's librarian, Sir Frederick Augusta Barnard, regarding acquisitions policy. This is reproduced in the introduction to vol. I of Barnard, F. A., Bibliothecae Regiae Catalogus (1820), pp. iiiviiGoogle Scholar.

page 80 note 1 Mr Edward Miller's forthcoming biography of Panizzi, to be published by André Deutsch, will include a discussion of Panizzi's acquisitions policy.

page 80 note 2 See British Museum: copy of a representation from the Trustees of the British Museum to the Treasury, on the subject of an enlarged scale of expenditure for the supply of printed books… Ordered by the House of Commons, to be printed, 27 March 1846. P.P.H. of C. Session 1846, vol. xxv. p. 37.

page 81 note 1 See the early sections of Nowell-Smith, Simon's lecture ‘Carlyle and the London Library’, in English Libraries, 1800–1850 (University College London, School of Librarianship and Archives, 1958)Google Scholar. This is based in part on Harrison, Frederic, Carlyle and the London Library (1907)Google Scholar.

page 81 note 2 Op. cit. p. 30.

page 82 note 1 Stevens, Henry, ‘Twenty years' reminiscences of Panizzi and the British Museum, 1845–1865’, Transactions of the Library Association…at their…annual meeting…1884 (1890), p. 123Google Scholar.

page 82 note 2 The only full-length study of Stevens is Parker, Wyman W., Henry Stevens of Vermont: American Rare Book Dealer in London, 1845–1886 (Amsterdam, 1963)Google Scholar. Mr John A. Wiseman is preparing a fellowship thesis for the Library Association entitled, provisionally, ‘Henry Stevens: an account of his activities as a buying agent for the British Museum between 1845 and 1865.’

page 83 note 1 Letter from Stevens to Jared Sparks, 27 March 1846 (Harvard MS. Sparks 13).

page 83 note 2 Stevens, ‘Twenty years’ reminiscences', loc. cit. p. 118.

page 84 note 1 An exemplary discussion of the professionalization of historical studies in the United States is contained in Higham, John and others, History (Englewood Cliffs, 1965), one of the Princeton Studies of Humanistic Scholarship in AmericaGoogle Scholar.

page 84 note 2 The only statement of this figure in print that I have yet been able to find is in the footnote on page 3 of the published version of Garnett, Richard's Changes at the British Museum since 1877: a Paper (1887)Google Scholar.

page 85 note 1 See B. R. Crick and Ann Daltrop, List of American Newspapers up to 1940, held by Libraries in Great Britain and Ireland. Supplement to no. 7 of the Bulletin of the British Association for American Studies (Old Series).