Chapter 6. Guides to Manuscripts and Archives

Table of Contents

Guides to manuscripts and archives are essential sources for identifying collections of manuscripts and locating specific manuscripts.

This section includes general works on manuscripts and archives, as well as guides, catalogs, and other finding aids that cover two or more national literatures. Works limited to a single national literature appear under the “Manuscripts” heading in appropriate sections in this Guide.

For additional works see Marcuse, Reference Guide for English Studies (B90), pp. 119–35.

Research Methods


Thorpe, James. The Use of Manuscripts in Literary Research: Problems of Access and Literary Property Rights. 2nd ed. New York: MLA, 1979. 40 pp. Z692.M28 T47 026′.091.

An introduction to locating, gaining access to, and obtaining permission to publish manuscripts. Beginning with the essential but frequently unheeded dictum that “much work should precede any effort to use manuscript materials,” Thorpe offers practical advice on locating manuscripts, corresponding with libraries, preparing to visit a collection, approaching a private collector, gaining admittance to a collection (with a survey of common regulations and courtesies), obtaining photocopies (with notes on typical and atypical restrictions), acquiring permission to publish, and understanding literary property rights (principally in the United States). Although it cites some outdated sources, the work is essential preliminary reading for anyone who needs to consult manuscripts in public or private hands.