Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/38

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[No. 4
How to find Sources


4. Libraries of Sources in American History

NO library has anything approaching a complete set either of originals or of reprints of the historical writings of colonial and revolutionary times. Nevertheless, one who examines the books in a special library of Americana is amazed at the number, variety, and interest of the material. Six great libraries deserve special mention, all growing collections, and several of them purchasers of rarities at great prices : 1. The John Carter Brown Library at Providence, kept up as a private collection, but under the direction of a trained specialist librarian. 2. The Lenox Library at New York, also brought together by a private man, but now a part of the great New York Public Library. 3. The Boston Public Library, containing the Prince Collection and other valuable accumulations of many private gifts, supplemented by purchases. 4. The Harvard College Library, which contains a well classified collection, abounding in rarities. 5. The Library of Congress, containing great treasures of early books and manuscripts, as yet uncatalogued and almost unexplored. 6. The library of the American Antiquarian Society at Worcester, especially rich in colonial and later newspapers.

Of many early prints there are but half a dozen copies extant, and it is almost impossible for later libraries to secure sets equally complete with the older collections. Nevertheless, there are numerous and valuable Americana in the libraries of Cornell University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wisconsin Historical Society. In each state a special historical society is likely to collect early printed works, newspapers, and reprints on the history of that state. Some libraries will lend rare books directly, or through a local librarian who makes himself responsible.

Abroad, the largest collection of Americana is that of the British Museum, containing some unique pamphlets not to be found in America ; and there are also rare pamphlets in the Bodleian Library of Oxford. In England is also a great reservoir of colonial manuscript material, chiefly in the Public Record Office. Transcripts of many of these documents have been made and transferred to America, as, for example, the Minutes of the Lords of Trade, which are in the Pennsylvania Historical Society. Continental archives have also material on discovery and colonization, especially those of Simancas in Spain, and those of France, Genoa, and Venice.