Nineteenth-Century Literature

Most works in section Q: American Literature/General are important to research in nineteenth-century American literature.

Research Methods


Stein, Linda L., and Peter J. Lehu. Literary Research and the American Realism and Naturalism Period: Strategies and Sources. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2009. 317 pp. Lit. Research: Strategies and Sources 4. (Updates appear at PS217.R4 S74 810.9′004072.

A guide to research strategies and reference sources for the scholar working with literature of the realist and naturalist era (1861–1914). Following an admirably clear explanation of the basics of online searching are chapters on general literary reference sources; library catalogs; print and electronic bibliographies, indexes, and annual reviews; scholarly journals; publishing history; newspapers and magazines; microform and digital collections; manuscripts and archives; and Web resources. (Many of the preceding chapters discuss works devoted to individual authors.) The last chapter demonstrates how to use many of the works and strategies previously discussed to develop a research plan. An appendix lists sources in related disciplines. Indexed by names, titles, and subjects. Describing fully the uses of kinds of reference tools, providing illuminating examples in discussions of key individual resources, detailing techniques for finding kinds of information (including primary works), and illustrating research processes, Literary Research and the American Realism and Naturalism Period admirably fulfills its intent: to introduce research tools and processes essential to the study of American literature from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of World War I.

See also

Courtney, Literary Research and the Era of American Nationalism and Romanticism: Strategies and Sources (Q3995).

Literary Handbooks, Dictionaries, and Encyclopedias


Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism. Ed. Wesley T. Mott. Westport: Greenwood, 1996. 280 pp. PS217.T7 E53 810.9′384.

An encyclopedia of the “major philosophical concepts, antecedents, genres, institutions, organizations, movements, periodicals, events, and places associated with transcendentalism in the United States.” The 145 signed entries employ a history-of-ideas approach and focus on New England; each concludes with a list of suggested readings. Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism has somewhat fuller discussions than is typical for such a compendium and offers a convenient guide to the aesthetic, intellectual, and social background of the movement.

Guides to Primary Works


American Book Publishing Record (ABPR). Amenia: Grey House, 1960– . Monthly, with annual, quinquennial (for 1960–1964 through 1980–1984), and retrospective cumulations for 1876–1949, 1950–77, and 1876–1981 (microfiche). Title varies. Z1219.A515 015.

Originally an augmented, corrected cumulation of the alphabetical lists in Weekly Record (in Publishers Weekly from 1876 through 26 August 1974; after that, published separately by Bowker through 23 December 1991), ABPR is now a classified list of books published or distributed in the United States that have been cataloged by the Library of Congress. Excluded are “federal and other governmental publications, subscription books, dissertations, new printings as distinct from reprints, reissue[s] and other periodicals, pamphlets under 49 pages, specialized publications of a transitory nature or intended as advertising, and most elementary and high school textbooks.” Books are organized by Dewey Decimal Classification (with separate alphabetical lists of adult and juvenile fiction). In addition to basic library catalog information, entries usually list price and the address of an obscure publisher or distributor. Corrected entries are substituted in the various cumulations, and the ones for 1950–77 and 1876–1981 add thousands of records taken from the NUCs (E235 and E240). Each issue and cumulation has author, title, and Library of Congress subject-tracing indexes; in addition, there are cumulative indexes covering 1876–1981 (1982, microfiche). Unfortunately the indexes cite Dewey Decimal Classification rather than page number; thus, in the cumulations users must frequently scan several columns to locate an entry. The title index offers quicker access than the author index to books by someone with a common name such as “Susan Jones” or “John Smith.” Although not comprehensive and including several ghosts and errors, ABPR is the most convenient source for keeping abreast of new works, editions, or reprints published or distributed in the United States, and, within the limitations of the Dewey Decimal Classification, the cumulations provide a subject guide to a majority of the books published since 1876 in the country. Review: (1950–77 cumulation) Ruth P. Burnett, College and Research Libraries 40.4 (1979): 358–62.

Works for children that are listed in ABPR also appear in Fiction, Folklore, Fantasy, and Poetry for Children, 1876–1985 (U5475). The 1876–1950 cumulation supersedes E. Leypoldt and R. R. Bowker, eds., American Catalogue: Author and Title Entries of Books in Print and for Sale (Including Reprints and Importations), July 1, 1876–December 31, 1910, 8 vols. in 13 pts. (New York: Publishers Weekly, 1880–1911).


Bibliotheca Americana: Catalogue of American Publications, Including Reprints and Original Works, from 1820 to 1852, Inclusive. Comp. O. A. Roorbach. New York: Roorbach, 1852. 652 pp. Supplements: October, 1852, to May, 1855. 1855. 220 pp. May, 1855, to March, 1858. New York: Wiley; London: Trubner, 1858. 256 pp. March, 1858, to January, 1861. New York: Roorbach; London: Trubner, 1861. 162 pp. Z1215.A3 015.73.

An author and title list of books published in the United States. Biographies are entered under subject rather than author; legal publications and periodicals occupy separate lists in the 1820–52 collection. An entry records author, title, number of volumes, size, binding, price, and publisher. The original compilation gives publication dates for only historical and travel literature; the first and second supplements, for most works; the last supplement, for none. Although incomplete, frequently inaccurate, and inconsistent in providing both author and title entries, Bibliotheca Americana remains the most comprehensive general list of works published in the country during the period. It is partly superseded, however, by Shoemaker et al., Checklist of American Imprints (Q4130).


Kelly, James, comp. The American Catalogue of Books (Original and Reprints) Published in the United States from Jan., 1861, to Jan., [1871], with Date of Publication, Size, Price, and Publisher’s Name. 2 vols. New York: Wiley, 1866–71. Z1215.A5 015.73.

An author and title list that continues Bibliotheca Americana (Q4115) and includes some pre-1861 works omitted from it. Most author and title entries cite editor, illustrator, translator, edition, size, binding, price, publication information, and date. Three appendixes: (vol. 1) pamphlets, sermons, and addresses on the Civil War; other sermons and addresses (giving topic but neither title nor publication information); (both vols.) publications of learned societies. The American Catalogue is incomplete (especially for works published in the South during the Civil War), frequently inaccurate, and inconsistent in supplying title entries. Nevertheless, it provides the fullest general list of works published in the country during the 10 years. Continued by American Book Publishing Record (Q4110).


Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801–1819. NewsBank InfoWeb. Readex, n.d. 31 Dec. 2012. <>.

Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement from the Library Company of Philadelphia, 1801–1819. NewsBank InfoWeb. Readex, n.d. 22 Feb. 2013. <>.

Shaw, Ralph R., and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps. American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for [1801–19] (Shaw-Shoemaker). 22 vols. New York: Scarecrow, 1958–66. Z1215.S48 015.73.

A bibliographical database and digital archive based on Shaw and Shoemaker, American Bibliography, that reproduces the c. 36,000 works in the original microprint and microform version of Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker (New Canaan: Readex) along with about 975 additional titles (however, the microprint and microform collection omits serial publications listed in Shaw-Shoemaker); the Supplement adds nearly 2,000 titles. Users can view digitized facsimiles of pages as well as search ASCII text generated by Optical Character Recognition scanning. In the basic search mode, documents can be searched by citation, full text, title, subject (i.e., Library of Congress subject headings), genre, author, place of publication, publisher, document number (i.e., Shaw-Shoemaker number), and date of publication; the advanced search mode allows users to combine up to two fields with full text and date. Given the treatment of attributions of authorship, users should search for an author in both the Author and Citation Text fields. Because of the spelling practices in the period covered and because of scanning errors in the ASCII text underlying the digital images, users must read the discussion of spelling under Hints/Elongated S and Background/Historical Material and OCR on the Help screen before attempting a full-text search. Users can also browse by author, place of publication, history of printing (with separate lists of publishers, printers, and booksellers), language, and selected genres and subjects.

A search returns records in ascending chronological order; an individual record reformats the enhanced cataloging copy created for the microform version of Early American Imprints, Series II (which cites Shaw-Shoemaker number along with other standard bibliographies, albeit in abbreviated forms that will mystify the majority of users). The original Shaw-Shoemaker entry (along with identification of the copy reproduced) is hidden under a Document Source link at the end of the Table of Contents.

Copies can be downloaded as PDF or TIF files (file transfer can be slow, and a maximum of 75 pages can be downloaded at a time), printed, or saved to a personal collection for later access. Inevitably, many of the images of pages are only partly legible because of flaws in the underlying copy or problems with the original filming (and thus keyword searches of the full text generally return some false hits), but this resource brings to the computer screen the text of thousands of rare volumes and, because of the search capabilities, makes possible studies that would otherwise be unfeasible because of the time it would take to identify and acquire the necessary books. Review: Norman Desmarais, Charleston Advisor 6.2 (2004): 15–17; 31 Dec. 2012; <>.

While Early American Imprints, Series II vastly improves access to information hidden away in Shaw-Shoemaker (especially anonymous works), it replicates silently many of the limitations and quirks of its progenitor. Thus a thorough familiarity with American Bibliography is a prerequisite for informed use of the digital archive. And the user of any digital archive must be aware that a copy reproduced may have leaves supplied from another copy, be of an edition that is extant in more than one issue or state, or be incomplete.

Shaw-Shoemaker continues Evans, American Bibliography (Q4005), with each volume devoted to a single year. The 51,960 entries—listed alphabetically by author, corporate author, or title of anonymous work—record title, imprint, pagination, and locations. Corrections appear in vol. 22 and in the list of omitted entries in Frances P. Newton, comp., Printers, Publishers, and Booksellers Index; Geographical Index (Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1983; 443 pp.). Indexed by titles in vol. 21, by authors in vol. 22. Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker (New Canaan: Readex) reproduces in microform a majority of the nonserial publications.

A preliminary bibliography based entirely on secondary sources (with discrepancies resolved by reliance on what the compilers determined was the “best” source), Shaw-Shoemaker is subject to many of the same deficiencies and limitations as Evans, including misattributions of authorship, publication information, or date; inaccurate titles; and duplicate entries. Like its predecessor, however, Shaw-Shoemaker offers the fullest record of printing during the period; is a useful resource for investigating the intellectual milieu of works, surveying publishing trends, identifying works or editions by standard reference number, and locating copies; and forms part of the basis for a fuller, more sophisticated and accurate retrospective bibliography. Some additions appear in “American Bibliographical Notes,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 82.1 (1972): 53–64; 83.2 (1973): 273–76; 84.2 (1974): 399–402, 404–06.

The chronological record is continued by Shoemaker et al., Checklist of American Imprints (Q4130).


Shoemaker, Richard H., Gayle Cooper, Scott Bruntjen, and Carol Rinderknecht [Bruntjen], comps. A Checklist of American Imprints for [1820–46] (Shoemaker). Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1964–97. (Publication has been suspended.) Z1215.S5 015.73.

A continuation of Shaw and Shoemaker, American Bibliography (Q4125). Like its predecessor, Shoemaker devotes a volume to each year; lists entries alphabetically by author, corporate author, or title of anonymous work; and records title, imprint, pagination, and locations of copies. Unlike Evans, American Bibliography (Q4005), and Shaw-Shoemaker, it excludes serial publications. Indexed by decade:

  • Cooper, M. Frances, comp. A Checklist of American Imprints, 1820–1829: Author Index, Corrections, and Sources. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1973. 172 pp.

  • ———. A Checklist of American Imprints, 1820–1829: Title Index. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1972. 556 pp.

  • Newton, Frances P., comp. A Checklist of American Imprints, 1820–1829: Printers, Publishers, and Booksellers Index; Geographical Index. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2000. 391 pp.

  • Rinderknecht, Carol, comp. A Checklist of American Imprints, 1830–1839: Author Index. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1989. 173 pp.

  • ———. A Checklist of American Imprints, 1830–1839: Title Index. 2 vols. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1989.

Although some entries are based on examination of copies, the majority are derived from secondary sources; thus Shoemaker is subject to many of the same limitations and deficiencies as Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker, including misattributions of authorship, publication information, or date; inaccurate titles; and duplicate entries. (Corrections are printed in Cooper, Author Index [see above].) Like its predecessors, however, Shoemaker offers the most thorough record of printing during the period; is a useful resource for investigating the intellectual milieu of works, surveying publishing trends, identifying works or editions by standard reference number, and locating copies; forms part of the basis for a fuller, more sophisticated and accurate retrospective bibliography; and supersedes, for the volumes published, Bibliotheca Americana (Q4115) and American Imprints Inventory, 52 nos. (Washington: Historical Records Survey, 1937–42).

Complementing Shoemaker is American Broadsides and Ephemera, Series I (, a digital archive of c. 30,000 documents from the collections of the American Antiquarian Society. Part of Readex’s Archive of Americana, American Broadsides and Ephemera uses the same search interface as Early American Imprints, Series I (Q4005) and II (Q4125).

See also

Literary Writings in America (Q3255).

Nineteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue (M2475).

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Surveys of Research


Myerson, Joel, ed. The Transcendentalists: A Review of Research and Criticism. New York: MLA, 1984. 534 pp. Mod. Lang. Assn. of Amer. Reviews of Research. Z7128.T7 T7 [B905] 016.141′3′0973.

A collection of evaluative surveys of research (from the nineteenth century through 1981), with individual essays on general topics (the transcendentalist movement, its historical background, relation to Unitarianism, communities, and periodicals), 28 transcendentalists, and the contemporary reaction of 11 authors. The essays on transcendentalist writers (varying from 2 to 28 pages) include sections on bibliographies, manuscripts, editions, biographical studies, and criticism (with the last variously subdivided); the essays on major authors such as Emerson and Thoreau focus on the transcendentalist period of their careers. The other essays are variously organized, with those on contemporary writers limited to their relation to the movement. Most essays offer suggestions for further research. Unlike other MLA surveys of research, this work records full publication information in a list of works cited. Indexed by persons, anonymous titles, and some subjects. Judicious evaluation, accuracy, and thoroughness make The Transcendentalists the indispensable guide to the movement. Review: Kenneth Walter Cameron, Analytical and Enumerative Bibliography ns 1.2 (1987): 92–97.

For evaluations of recent scholarship, see the chapters “Emerson, Thoreau, and Transcendentalism” and “19th-Century Literature” in American Literary Scholarship (Q3265).


Woodress, James, ed. Eight American Authors: A Review of Research and Criticism. Rev. ed. New York: Norton, 1972. 392 pp. PS201.E4 810′.9′003.

Evaluative surveys of research on Poe, Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Melville, Whitman, Twain, and James, in a collection that revises the work by Floyd Stovall, ed. (New York: MLA, 1956; 418 pp.; rpt., with a bibliographic supplement by J. Chesley Mathews, New York: Norton, 1963; 466 pp.). Coverage extends through 1969, is selective (especially for articles), and excludes dissertations and foreign scholarship in some chapters. The essays—by established scholars but not necessarily specialists in the respective authors—are variously organized within a general framework that encompasses bibliographies, editions, biographical studies, and criticism. The failure to provide complete bibliographical information sometimes results in delays in tracking down an article. Indexed by persons. While Eight American Authors is now badly dated, its thoughtful and exacting evaluations make it an indispensable guide to studies published before 1970. For evaluative surveys of later scholarship, see American Literary Scholarship (Q3265), which has chapters on each author.

See also

American Literary Scholarship (Q3265): Chapters on Emerson, Thoreau, and transcendentalism; Hawthorne; Poe; Melville; Whitman and Dickinson; Mark Twain; James; and the nineteenth century.

Romantic Movement: A Selective and Critical Bibliography (M2485).

Serial Bibliographies


ABELL (G340): English Literature/Nineteenth Century section.

MLAIB (G335): American Literature division in the volumes for 1922–25; American IV: Romantic Period (1815–90) and V: 1890 to the Present in the volume for 1926; American III: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (1607–1815) in the volumes for 1926–28; American IV: Nineteenth Century in the volumes for 1929–34; American IV: Nineteenth Century, 1800–70 and V: Nineteenth Century, 1870–1900 in the volumes for 1935–40; American III: Nineteenth Century, 1800–70 and IV: Nineteenth Century, 1870–1900 in the volumes for 1941–80; and American Literature/1800–99 (as well as any larger chronological section encompassing the century) in volumes after 1980. Researchers must also check the heading beginning with “American” in the subject index to post-1980 volumes and in the online thesaurus.

Biographical Dictionaries


Dictionary of Literary Biography (J600).


Guides to Primary Works


Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820 (Q4035).

Index to Early American Periodicals to 1850 (Q4045).

Kribbs, Annotated Bibliography of American Literary Periodicals, 1741–1850 (Q4040).

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism


Chielens, Edward E. The Literary Journal in America to 1900: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale, 1975. 197 pp. Amer. Lit., English Lit., and World Lits. in English: An Information Guide Ser. 3. Z6951.C57 [PN4877] 016.81′05.

A selective annotated bibliography of English-language studies (through the early 1970s) of literary periodicals as well as other periodicals that were influential in the development of American literature. Chielens excludes dailies and annuals as well as any work that has not been the subject of at least one dissertation, book, chapter, or article. Entries are listed alphabetically by author in seven divisions (some of which have sections for general studies and individual periodicals): general studies, New England, Middle Atlantic states, the South, the West, bibliographies and checklists (including sections for some of the preceding divisions), and background studies. Studies of literary materials in nonliterary periodicals and of Poe and American literary periodicals are relegated to appendixes. The work is flawed by a narrow focus, inadequate explanation of scope, and inefficient organization, but it is a serviceable compilation of studies that are sometimes difficult to locate in the standard serial bibliographies and indexes in section G. Continued by Chielens, Literary Journal in America, 1900–1950 (Q4250).



19th Century Masterfile. Paratext, n.d. 30 Dec. 2014. <>. (Former title: Poole’s Plus.)

An electronic index to printed author, subject, and title indexes of nineteenth-century periodicals, newspapers, government documents, and patents, including Poole’s Index to Periodical Literature (Q4150); “A.L.A.” Index (G380a); New York Times Index (1863–1905; entry Q3415); Palmer’s Index to the Times Newspaper (1880–90; entry M1450a); and individual indexes to such periodicals as North American Review, Putnam’s Monthly, and Atlantic Monthly. The overwhelming majority of the publications indexed were printed in the United States. Users can search by keyword(s) in all fields, document authors, or article titles. Searchers must try variant forms of names in keyword searches (e.g., Robert Browning is indexed under seven different forms of his name). Some records can be browsed by title, author, or keyword (though the last will require scrolling through hundreds of screens for words appearing near the end of the alphabet). Search results are broken down by printed source, then by relevancy rank within each source; results can be sorted (in ascending or descending order) by date, author, title, language, or classification (though it is unclear what the last entails). Although the content of a record is determined by its printed source (and thus frequently lacks full bibliographical details), some records have been enhanced. Records marked for downloading must first be saved to a list. Although subject to most of the limitations of the sources it reproduces and hampered by a primitive search interface, 19th Century Masterfile does allow users to extract information from a wide range of printed indexes.


Poole’s Index to Periodical Literature. By William Frederick Poole et al. 6 vols. Boston: Houghton, 1888–1908. AI3.P7 016.05.

  • 1802–81. 2 pts. Rev. ed. By William Frederick Poole and William I. Fletcher. 1891.

  • First Supplement: 1882–87. By William Frederick Poole and Fletcher. 1888. 483 pp.

  • Second Supplement: 1887–92. By Fletcher. 1895. 476 pp.

  • Third Supplement: 1892–96. By Fletcher and Franklin O. Poole. 1897. 637 pp.

  • Fourth Supplement: 1897–1902. By Fletcher and Mary Poole. 1903. 646 pp.

  • Fifth Supplement: 1902–07. By Fletcher and Mary Poole. 1908. 714 pp.

A subject index to 479 British and (predominantly) American periodicals published between 1802 and 1 January 1907. The supplements provide current as well as retrospective coverage for periodicals newly added. Although entries cite an abbreviated title, author (with many unauthenticated attributions), periodical title, volume, and initial page number, researchers accustomed to modern subject indexes will find Poole’s a frustrating work to consult because (1) subject headings, derived largely from title words, are capricious and inconsistent and offer few cross-references to related headings; (2) the imposition of uniform periodical titles and volume numbers that ignore title changes and a publisher’s numbering system means that Dearing (see below) must be consulted to locate many articles; (3) literary contributions are listed by title; (4) reviews of literary works appear under the author of the work reviewed, but reviews of nonfiction books appear under the subject of the work; (5) the numerous attributions of unsigned articles must be authenticated in more reliable sources. Some of these defects are remedied in the following:

  • Dearing, Vinton A. Transfer Vectors for Poole’s Index to Periodical Literature: Number One: Titles, Volumes, and Dates. Los Angeles: Pison, 1967. 95 pp. (The projected key to subject headings was never published.) Because it expands title abbreviations, lists title changes, provides volume-year correspondences, and converts assigned volume numbers to those used in periodicals, this work is essential for ascertaining the actual publication details for citations. Dearing is easier to use than Marion V. Bell and Jean C. Bacon, Poole’s Index Date and Volume Key (Chicago: Assn. of College and Reference Libraries, 1957; 61 pp.; ACRL Monographs 19).

  • Wall, C. Edward, comp. and ed. Cumulative Author Index for Poole’s Index to Periodical Literature, 1802–1906. Ann Arbor: Pierian, 1971. 488 pp. Provides access to authors listed in Poole’s, but users must search all possible variants because Wall does not regularize names.

Additions and corrections appear in Thorvald Solberg, ““Authors of Anonymous Articles Indexed in Poole ”,” Bulletin of Bibliography 1.6 (1898): 91–93, 1.7 (1898): 105–07, and in a series of variously authored ““Errata in Poole’s Index and Supplements”,” 2.2 (1900): 24–25, 2.3 (1900): 40–41, 2.4 (1900): 56–58, 2.5 (1900): 75–76, 2.7 (1901): 107–08, 2.9 (1901): 133–34, 3.2 (1902): 25–26, 4.1 (1904): 11–12, 4.5 (1905): 72.

Despite its manifold deficiencies, Poole’s offers the only available indexing of numerous periodicals and—if approached with patience, an awareness of its limitations, and inventiveness—can yield valuable access to more than 590,000 articles. For an instructive discussion of search strategies, see vol. 1, pp. 37–40 in Vann and VanArsdel, Victorian Periodicals (M2525).

Some of the frustrations of searching Poole’s are alleviated by the electronic versions included in 19th Century Masterfile (Q4147) and C19: The Nineteenth Century Index (M2466); however, researchers should first consult Robert Balay’s evaluation of the 19th Century Masterfile version (pp. 25–28) in Early Periodical Indexes (G327).

More accurate indexing of a limited number of periodicals can be found in Nineteenth Century Readers’ Guide (G400a) and Wellesley Index (M2545); however, neither approaches the breadth of Poole’s. Reviews published between 1880 and 1900 in 13 popular American periodicals not in Poole’s are indexed in Patricia Marks, American Literary and Drama Reviews: An Index to Late Nineteenth Century Periodicals (Boston: Hall, 1983; 313 pp.; Reference Pub. in Lit.).


Wells, Daniel A., and Jonathan Daniel Wells. The Literary and Historical Index to American Magazines, 1800–1850. Westport: Praeger, 2004. 506 pp. Bibliogs. and Indexes in Amer. Lit. 32. Z1225.W37 [PS214] 016.8108′004.

Wells, Daniel A. The Literary Index to American Magazines, 1850–1900. Westport: Greenwood, 1996. 441 pp. Bibliogs. and Indexes in Amer. Lit. 22. Z1225.W38 [PS214] 016.8108′004.

Author and rudimentary subject indexes to articles, excerpts, reviews, and regular columns of literary, cultural, or historical (the last only in 1800–1850) interest in c. 90 important or representative literary magazines between 1800 and 1900. Entries for authors consist of three parts: general references to the life or career; references to books and pamphlets by the author; works by the author. Anonymous contributors are identified only for Dial. Although coverage is limited and the subject indexing is minimal, the Literary Index is a useful preliminary source for locating works by several minor authors and for studying the American reception of writers, native and some foreign, of the period.

See also

Literary Writings in America (Q3255).


Most works in sections L: Genres and Q: American Literature/General/Genres are useful for research in nineteenth-century American literature.


Most works in sections L: Genres/Fiction and Q: American Literature/General/Genres/Fiction are useful for research in nineteenth-century American fiction.

Histories and Surveys

Petter, Early American Novel (Q4055).

Guides to Primary Works
Bibliographies and Indexes

Wright, Lyle H. American Fiction, 1774–1850: A Contribution toward a Bibliography. 2nd rev. ed. San Marino: Huntington Lib., 1969. 411 pp. Z1231.F4 W9 016.812′3.

———. American Fiction, 1851–1875: A Contribution toward a Bibliography. Rpt., with additions and corrections. 1965. 438 pp. Z1231.F4 W92 016.8133.

———. American Fiction, 1876–1900: A Contribution toward a Bibliography. 1966. 683 pp. Z1231.F4 W93 016.8134.

A bibliography of American editions of separately published American fiction, including novels, romances, tall tales, allegories, and fictitious biographies and travels but excluding juvenile fiction, jestbooks, Indian captivity narratives, periodicals, annuals, gift books, folklore, tracts published by religious societies, dime novels, and subscription series. The 1774–1850 volume attempts to include all editions; the later volumes are limited to first or earliest located editions. Organized alphabetically by author, unidentified pseudonym, or title of anonymous work, entries provide title, publication information, pagination, format, list of contents for collections of stories, copyright deposit information, occasional notes on subject matter, and locations in selected major libraries and private collections. Stories in collections are cross-referenced to the collection. Indexed by titles in all volumes and by dates in the 1774–1850 volume. Although not comprehensive, Wright offers an incomparable record of American fiction through 1900. A number of corrections appear in Edward W. Pitcher, “Some Emendations for Lyle B. [sic] Wright’s American Fiction, 1774–1850,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 74.2 (1980): 143–45. Reviews: (1774–1850) John S. Van E. Kohn, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 42.4 (1948): 324–30; (1876–1900) Roger E. Stoddard, New England Quarterly 41.4 (1968): 600–04.

All but a few of the works in Wright have been microfilmed in American Fiction, 1774–1910 (Woodbridge: Research, 1967–84). Post-1900 editions were compiled from the Library of Congress shelf list of American adult fiction. American Fiction, 1774–1900: Cumulative Author Index to the Microfilm Collection (New Haven: Research, 1974; 416 pp.) and American Fiction, 1901–1910: Cumulative Author Index to the Microfilm Collection (Woodbridge: Research, 1984; 217 pp.) are essential for locating individual titles on the microfilm reels. Wright American Fiction, 1851–1875 ( allows keyword searches of digitized copies of 2,887 volumes from the microfilm; as of 31 December 2012, 1,124 of these texts had been fully encoded and edited, but the site has not been updated since 2005. Keyword, Boolean, or proximity searches can be limited to titles, authors, place of publication, publisher, date, bibliographical citation, or idno (which is not explained at the site). In addition, users can browse a word index. Like other archives of encoded digitized texts, Wright American Fiction, 1851–1875 makes feasible studies of style, imagery, subjects, and intellectual history that would otherwise require years of reading texts cover to cover.

Coverage is continued by American Fiction Database (Q4267).

See also

Early American Fiction, 1789–1875 (Q4183).

Grimes and Daims, Novels in English by Women, 1891–1920 (M2640).

Text Archives

Early American Fiction, 1789–1875. Chadwyck-Healey Literature Collections. ProQuest, 1996–2013. 16 Sept. 2013. <>.

An archive of rekeyed texts and digital images of more than 730 first editions of novels and collections of short stories published by American writers between 1789 and 1875. To be included a first edition must be owned by the University of Virginia Library and be listed in Wright, American Fiction, 1774–1850 (Q4180), or its author included in BAL (Q3250). Each book is photographed from front cover to back cover (along with the spine and top, front, and bottom edges).

Simple keyword, title, and author searches can be limited to parts (e.g., front matter, epigraphs) and by publication date, place of publication, publisher, date during an author’s lifetime, and gender. Searchers can also browse author, publisher, place of publication, and title lists of the contents of the database. Results appear in ascending alphabetical order by author and cannot be re-sorted. Citations (but not the full text) can be marked for e-mailing, downloading, or printing; each citation includes a durable URL to the full text.

Besides being a useful source for identifying an elusive quotation or allusion, Early American Fiction’s text archive makes feasible a variety of kinds of studies (stylistic, thematic, imagistic, and topical). This archive incorporates all the content of Early American Fiction, 1789–1850 (

The contents of Early American Fiction can also be searched through LiOn (I527).

See also

Wright American Fiction, 1851–1875 (Q4180a).

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Holman, C. Hugh, comp. The American Novel through Henry James. 2nd ed. Arlington Heights: AHM, 1979. 177 pp. Goldentree Bibliogs. in Lang. and Lit. Z1231.F4 H64 [PS371] 016.813.

A highly selective bibliography of English-language scholarship through 1976 that emphasizes nineteenth-century novelists. Holman excludes most studies before 1900 and most general literary histories as well as dissertations and bibliographies of bibliographies. Entries are organized in divisions for the novel as form, histories of the American novel, special studies (with sections for periods, genres, and themes or subjects), major novelists (with sections for editions, bibliographies, biographical and critical books, and essays), and lesser novelists. The supplement (pp. 141–57) is similarly organized. A few entries are accompanied by brief descriptive annotations. Indexed by scholars.

A similar work is David K. Kirby, American Fiction to 1900: A Guide to Information Sources (Detroit: Gale, 1975; 296 pp.; Amer. Lit., English Lit., and World Lits. in English: An Information Guide Ser. 4), with highly selective coverage through c. 1975 and an inadequate explanation of scope and criteria governing both the selection of authors and scholarship.

Highly selective and dated, The American Novel and American Fiction together offer only a preliminary guide to scholarship.

For reviews of late nineteenth-century fiction, see Clayton L. Eichelberger, comp., A Guide to Critical Reviews of United States Fiction, 1870–1910, 2 vols. (Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1971–74). Unfortunately, because of its numerous errors and inconsistencies, omission of significant periodicals, inclusion of many nonfictional works, and inadequate editing, Eichelberger’s Guide cannot be trusted. (For the deficiencies of this work, see the review by Blake Nevius, Nineteenth-Century Fiction 27.2 [1972]: 245–47.)


Kirby, David. America’s Hive of Honey; or, Foreign Influences on American Fiction through Henry James: Essays and Bibliographies. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1980. 214 pp. Z1231.F4 K573 [PS374.F64] 813′.009′3.

A selective annotated bibliography of studies of 16 major influences on the fiction of Brown, Irving, Cooper, Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, James, Howells, Norris, and Crane. The work is limited to studies (through 1976 and primarily in English) that identify specific sources. Within divisions for Asian sources, classical literature, the Bible, Dante and the Middle Ages, Spenser, Cervantes, Shakespeare and the Renaissance, Milton and his age, the eighteenth century, Austen, Gothic novelists, the Romantics, Scott, the Victorians, realists, and scientific thinkers and naturalists, entries are listed alphabetically by author in sections for general studies and individual American writers. Each division begins with a headnote assessing generally the influence of the author, period, group, movement, or work. Two brief appendixes list general studies of the influence of foreign cultures on American fiction and of the reading habits of individual authors. Indexed by persons and titles of primary works. The detailed annotations make America’s Hive of Honey a useful guide to source studies, few of which are readily identifiable in standard bibliographies and indexes.

Drama and Theater

Most works in sections L: Genres/Drama and Theater and Q: American Literature/General/Genres/Drama and Theater are useful for research in nineteenth-century American drama and theater.

Guides to Primary Works

Dramatic Compositions Copyrighted in the United States, 1870 to 1916. 2 vols. Washington: GPO, 1918. Z5781.U55 [PN1851] 016.812.

A list of the approximately 60,000 plays registered for copyright between 1870 and 1916. Works are listed alphabetically by title, with cross-references for alternative titles or subtitles. Because of changes in copyright law, entries vary in content but typically record (when appropriate) title; author; translator; copyright claimant; and date of registration, publication, and deposit of copy. (Users should study the explanation of the sample entries on pp. iii–iv.) Plays registered during part of 1915 and all of 1916, along with additions and corrections, appear in a supplementary list (vol. 2, pp. 2,659–833). Indexed by persons (with titles following each name). Copies of about 20,000 works registered before 1 July 1909 were never deposited; however, Dramatic Compositions is an underutilized but indispensable record of plays that were copyrighted in the United States. Since some deposit copies—many of which are unpublished manuscripts or printed acting copies—are held by the Library of Congress, the work also serves as a valuable source for locating otherwise unobtainable materials. Researchers should note that printed copies selected for the Library of Congress collection are included in the library’s online catalog; other printed copies and manuscripts must be located by consulting the card file in the Copyright Office Public Record Reading Room. After obtaining the copyright registration number for an unpublished manuscript or typescript, researchers may consult microfilm copies of many of the deposits for this period in the Manuscript Reading Room. Some notes about prefilming transfers of certain twentieth-century scripts may be found in the Manuscript Division’s evolving, internal finding aid for selected plays from the Copyright Deposit Drama Collection. For other copyright records, see Tanselle, “Copyright Records and the Bibliographer” (Q3260).

See also

Hill, American Plays Printed, 1714–1830 (Q4070).

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Meserve, Walter J. American Drama to 1900: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale, 1980. 254 pp. Amer. Lit., English Lit., and World Lits. in English: An Information Guide Ser. 28. Z1231.D7 M45 [PS345] 016.812.

A bibliography of English-language scholarship and selected editions through c. 1977. Meserve excludes studies of theater because of the presence of Wilmeth, American Stage to World War I (Q3525), in a related Gale series. Entries are listed alphabetically by author in two divisions: general studies and major authors. The first has sections for bibliographies, indexes, library and microform collections, anthologies and collections, general histories, and history and criticism (with the last organized by period and including studies of minor authors and anonymous plays). Each of the 34 important playwrights (most of whom date from the nineteenth century) has separate lists of editions, nondramatic works, bibliographies, biographical studies, and criticism. Generous cross-references guide users to related studies. The generally brief descriptive annotations are uneven, with many failing to convey a sense of content. Three indexes: persons; titles; subjects. Although selective and lacking an adequate explanation of scope and criteria governing selection, Meserve offers the best preliminary guide to studies of American drama before 1900 and is far superior to Eddleman, American Drama Criticism (Q3520). It must be supplemented by the serial bibliographies and indexes in section G and in section Q: American Literature/General/Guides to Scholarship and Criticism.

For an overview of recent scholarship and suggestions for future research, see Brenda Murphy, “Breaking the Constraints of History: Recent Scholarly Treatment of Nineteenth-Century American Drama,” Resources for American Literary Study 17.1 (1990): 25–34.

See also

Wilmeth, American Stage to World War I (Q3525).


Some works in section L: Genres/Poetry are useful for research in nineteenth-century American poetry.


Many works in sections L: Genres/Prose and Q: American Literature/General/Genres/Prose are useful for research in nineteenth-century American prose.

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Partridge, Elinore Hughes. American Prose and Criticism, 1820–1900: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale, 1983. 575 pp. Amer. Lit., English Lit., and World Lits. in English: An Information Guide Ser. 39. Z1231.P8 P37 [PS368] 016.818′08.

A highly selective list of editions and studies through c. 1981 of nonfiction prose. Entries are organized in three divisions: general studies (with sections for bibliographies and reference works; periodicals and annual bibliographies; cultural, historical, and literary studies; and anthologies), prose (with sections for literary theory and criticism; autobiographies, memoirs, and diaries; essays and sketches; works of travel and description; educational, religious, philosophical, and scientific writings; and history and politics—each with lists of primary works and studies), and 45 individual authors (with lists of principal works; letters and journals; editions, selections, and reprints; bibliographies; biographical studies and criticism; and related general studies). The descriptive annotations sometimes include brief evaluative comments. Indexed by persons and titles. Because of the inadequate explanation of scope and criteria governing selection, poor organization of the first division, exclusion of most articles in the lists of studies, and numerous inconsistencies, Partridge offers little more than a place to begin research on prose of the period.

See also

Yannella and Roch, American Prose to 1820 (Q4095).