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Using Early American Imprints on Microprint  

Last Updated: Oct 3, 2008 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Using Early American Imprints on Microprint


**Every American book printed 1819 and before—here? in this library??
**Each American pamphlet, one-page broadside or map printed 1819 and earlier—here??
**All of those published up through 1800 indexed electronically—here?


Everyone studying early American history, literature, or culture should know that we have on microprint (1st Floor: 810 E12) the complete first series of Early American Imprints. That's all the books, pamphlets, etc. published 1640-1800 in what's now the U.S. (or at least, every one that could be found). That first series is indexed, not only by a set of books—the American Bibliography, 1639-1800, (4th Floor: 015.73 E92a)—but also by the Early American Imprints, 1640-1800 database which is available for use on the library's 'Specialized Resources' computers on the third floor. We also now have the entire second series of Early American Imprints, 1801-1819 (1st Floor: 810 E12 2nd Ser). All books, etc. published 1801-1814 are on microprint. The last few years, 1815-1819, are on microfiche. There is a set of books on the fourth floor that indexes the second series (American Bibliography: a Preliminary Checklist for 1801-1819, call number 015.73 S535a). The microprint and microfiche are on the first floor of the library.

This guide will help you use the indexes, and the 90,000 items in the microform collections. You may want to print parts of this guide to refer to while you are using the electronic index.

Using the Early American Imprints Electronic Index

The electronic index can only be searched via one of the two 'Specialized Resources' computers in the alcove near the main entrance to the library. You can start the database by double-clicking on the 'Early American Imprints' icon on the desktop. You get to an opening screen that instructs you to press the [Enter] key. This puts you in the main menu, which gives three choices, selected with arrow keys:

Level I Level II Exit

Level I Searching

Level I searching is extremely simple. Just type any keyword or phrase that describes your topic and press the [Enter] key. You then get a screen that tells you how many items you have found. Use the up and down arrows to add or exclude topics with AND—OR—NOT operators. Press the F7 key to see the index records in a brief display. Press the F8 key to see a very complete display. Books published before 1800 often have very long titles that give a lot of information about the contents, and all this information is shown in the complete display. To return to the first menu, so you can exit, use the [Esc] key.

Using the Brief Display [F7 key] and Using Microcards

An example of how the LAST printed line in the brief citation will read is:

Early American Imprints, 1st series, no. 31184 (filmed)

With that information, you can find this book and read it. The Early American Imprints, First Series are at the southwest corner of the first floor, behind Government Documents, with the rest of our microprint. They have the call number 810 E12. When you look in the box which contains numbers 31173-31387, you find it full of stiff white cards, each one with as many as 100 pages reprinted on it. A whole page is about the size of your fingernail. You will notice that item 31184, a large dictionary, is actually on 10 microcards. The first card is labeled No. 31184 The next card is No. 31184 (1st cont.) and so on until the 9th continuation. The machine for viewing these books is in the row of microprint and microfilm readers. It is green and has a lens attached to the top. Place microcards face-down between the two plates of glass, lower the lens, turn the power switch to the position for reading cards, and adjust the image focus with the knob on the right side of the reader. If you have questions about the machines, ask the Special Collections librarian.

When you are finished reading the microprint, we suggest you refile the cards yourself. Keep in mind that if you refile them in the wrong place, they may never be found again.

Remember, microprint is not microfiche. Microfiche is transparent; you shine a light through it to view the image. Microprint is opaque. It's easy to read on the proper machine, but cannot be read on microfiche readers. Microprint cannot currently be photocopied in the Mansfield Library.

Using the Complete Display [F8 key]

If you press F8 you can see that same record in complete display format. You could use the Page Down key to see more of the record.

Notice that the very first line at the TOP of this Complete Display citation says:

Early American Imprints, 1st series, no. 31184 (filmed)

As you see, you can find the actual microprint cards just as easily from either display.

If you page down through this complete display record, you will find much additional information which was not on the brief display. A Level I search searches much of this automatically. A Level II search allows you to search more selectively.

Level II searching

Many search options on the Level II search screen are obvious, such as Author, Title, Language and Date. Others may need some explanation. The Genre field provides extra access by providing a listing of subject headings that are not in the official list of Library of Congress subject headings. Many different types of advertisements are listed, for instance. Similarly, the Add'l Names field lists people who are related in some way to a particular book, but who do not deserve an author entry according to the usual cataloging rules. You do a Level II search the same way as you do a Level I search, and choose from among the same options if you want to limit your search further or display the results.

Early American Imprints Second Series 1801-1819 and Indexes

We have over 30,000 more books, etc. published 1801-1814 on microprint (1st Floor : 810 E12 2d ser). The 1815-19 items are on microfiche (1st Floor : 810 E12 2d ser). The microfiche can be photocopied. These 1801-1819 items are indexed by Shaw and Shoemaker's American Bibliography (4th Floor: 015.73 S535a). This is arranged alphabetically by author in 19 separate volumes. Each one indexes a single year (1801, 1802, etc. to 1819). As with the first series, the numbers in the bibliography are the numbers for the microform. There are indexes to the entire period 1801-1819, by author, title, publisher and place. We have other checklists of Early American Imprints from 1820-1846 (and more to come), with cumulative indexes for 1820-29 and 1830-39. No complete microform or online set of American books exist for dates after 1819.

Created by Christopher G. Mullin
Last revised 26 Dec. 2006

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