Literary Research Guide/D

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
2504338Literary Research Guide — Bibliographies of Bibliographies2017James L. Harner
Bibliographies of Bibliographies

Bibliographies of bibliographies are essential sources for identifying subject, title, genre, and author bibliographies; they are among the first resources a researcher consults when setting out to discover what has been written about a topic.

Those sources restricted to a single national literature appear under the heading “Bibliographies of Bibliographies” in appropriate sections of this Guide. For an evaluative survey of early works, see Archer Taylor, A History of Bibliographies of Bibliographies (New Brunswick: Scarecrow, 1955; 147 pp.).

General Bibliographies of Bibliographies[edit]

Serial Bibliographies[edit]


Bibliographic Index Plus. Wilson-EBSCO. Currently unavailable (19 Mar. 2013); EBSCO plans to merge this into Essay and General Literature Index (G380).

Bibliographic Index: A Cumulative Bibliography of Bibliographies. Ipswich: Wilson-EBSCO, 1937– . 3/yr., inc. annual cumulation. Z1002.B595 016.016.

A subject index to bibliographies that are published separately, as parts of books (though many of these are lists of works cited rather than bibliographies), or in about 2,800 periodicals (currently). Concentrates on works in Germanic and Romance languages and is now limited to bibliographies with at least 50 entries (“except for bibliographies of works by or about a person, or for specialized or topical material”). Many entries are for a list of works cited rather than a bibliography. Like other Wilson indexes, Bibliographic Index offers generous subdivisions and cross-references for easy location of entries. Entries since 1982 can be searched through Bibliographic Index Plus (which also includes the full text of some 100,000 bibliographies). The advanced search screen allows users to search by keyword, author, title, journal, document language, publisher, and a variety of other document fields. Especially valuable for its inclusion of parts of books, Bibliographic Index is the most current and thorough subject index to bibliographies.

An essential complement for 1956–87 is Bibliographische Berichte / Bibliographical Bulletin, 30 vols. (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1959–88), a bibliography of bibliographies (including books, essays in collections, and journal articles) published for the most part in German, English, Romance, and East European languages. Bibliographies are listed by author or title (for edited and anonymous works) in 18 divisions, most of them extensively classified: general; education; geography; history; information science, librarianship, and museums; the arts (including theater and film); agriculture; mathematics; medicine; natural sciences; language and literature; philosophy; psychology; law; religion; social sciences (including folklore); sport and games; and technology. The language and literature division is classified by language or geographic area. Entries, which provide basic bibliographic information, are based on acquisitions of a small number of German libraries or copied from national bibliographies. Indexed by subject in each volume through vol. 13 (1971); cumulative indexes: vols. 1–5 (1965; 140 pp.); vols. 6–10 (1970; 176 pp.); vols. 11–29, as vol. 30 (1988; 664 pp.). Although Bibliographische Berichte is not comprehensive and is sometimes inaccurate, its demise deprived researchers of a resource especially valuable for its extensive coverage of European publications.

See also[edit]

ABELL (G340): In the volumes for 1973–84, the Bibliography section has a subdivision for subject, genre, and period bibliographies, checklists, and indexes, and in the volumes for 1973–76, a subdivision for author bibliographies.

Bibliographie der Buch- und Bibliotheksgeschichte (U5280).

Other Bibliographies[edit]


BibSite. Bibliographical Society of America. Bibliog. Soc. of Amer., n.d. Web. 1 Jan. 2015. <>. Updated irregularly.

A Web site devoted to hosting or linking to original bibliographies and supplements, updates, and corrections to existing bibliographies. The site has become an important gateway to bibliographies that are not commercially viable and to revisions to published ones.

The Bibliographical Society (United Kingdom) maintains a similar site (


Besterman, Theodore. A World Bibliography of Bibliographies, and of Bibliographical Catalogues, Calendars, Abstracts, Digests, Indexes, and the Like. 4th ed. 5 vols. Lausanne: Societas Bibliographica, 1965–66. Z1002.B5685 016.01.

A World Bibliography of Bibliographies, 1964–1974. 2 vols. Comp. Alice F. Toomey. Totowa: Rowman, 1977. Z1002.T67 016.011.

A subject guide to 117,187 bibliographies (published through 1963) on all subjects. Ostensibly, only separately published bibliographies are admitted; however, issues of periodicals and offprints of journal articles haphazardly find their way into the listings. Booksellers’ and auction catalogs, art lists, general library catalogs, and works printed in Asian languages are excluded. Arranged chronologically under subject headings, entries record the number of items in a bibliography as well as the first and last, but usually not intervening, editions. Indexed in vol. 5 by persons, titles of anonymous bibliographies, and libraries. Although noteworthy for its broad coverage, Besterman must be supplemented with Bibliographic Index (D145). For a detailed critique, see Roderick Cave, “Besterman and Bibliography: An Assessment,” Journal of Librarianship 10.3 (1978): 149–61.

The supplement uncritically reproduces, sometimes illegibly, about 18,000 Library of Congress catalog cards in a subject list without an index. Of the various sections that have been extracted from Besterman and published by Rowman in the Besterman World Bibliographies series, the two of most interest to the literature scholar are Literature: English and American: A Bibliography of Bibliographies (1971; 457 pp.) and Music and Drama: A Bibliography of Bibliographies (1971; 365 pp.). Because they include articles and parts of books, the following are occasionally useful supplements to Besterman:

  • Courtney, William P. A Register of National Bibliography. 3 vols. London: Constable, 1905–12.
  • Northup, Clark Sutherland. A Register of Bibliographies of the English Language and Literature. Cornell Studies in English. New Haven: Yale UP; London: Oxford UP, 1925. 507 pp.
  • Van Patten, Nathan. An Index to Bibliographies and Bibliographical Contributions Relating to the Work of American and British Authors, 1923–1932. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1934. 324 pp.


Arnim, Max. Internationale Personalbibliographie, 1800–1943. 2nd ed., expanded and rev. 2 vols. Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 1944–52. Gerhard Bock and Franz Hodes. Vol. 3: 1944–1959. 1961–63. 659 pp. Hodes. 1944–1975. 2nd ed. of vol. 3. 3 vols. 1978–87. Z8001.A1 I57 016.012.

A bibliography of bibliographies of works by and about writers and scholars from 1800 through c. 1986. Although international in scope and covering all disciplines, the work emphasizes German authors. Under each writer is a list of bibliographies, including books, articles, and entries in a wide range of biographical dictionaries, handbooks, registers, and sections of other bibliographies of bibliographies published through the early 1980s. Internationale Personalbibliographie, 1850–1935, in der preussischen Staatsbibliothek (Leipzig: Hiersemann, 1936; 572 pp.) indexes a few works omitted in the second edition. Although it is not comprehensive, the scope and coverage of foreign publications and collective works make Internationale Personalbibliographie an important complement to the other bibliographies of bibliographies in this section. Because of the nature of many of the collective works indexed, it is also a useful source for locating biographies and obituaries.


Bewsey, Julia J. “Festschriften Bibliographies and Indexes.” Bulletin of Bibliography 42.4 (1985): 193–202. Z1007.B94.

An annotated guide to 63 bibliographies and indexes (including journal articles but excluding serial bibliographies) of Festschriften published worldwide. Bewsey is noteworthy because standard serial bibliographies frequently overlook such collections.

See also[edit]

Ballou, Women: A Bibliography of Bibliographies (U6585).

Gray, Guide to Book Review Citations (G410).

Reynolds, Guide to Theses and Dissertations (H455).

Wortman, Guide to Serial Bibliographies (G325).



Weiner, Alan R., and Spencer Means. Literary Criticism Index. 2nd ed. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1994. 559 pp. Z6511.W44 [PN523] 016.809.

An index to 146 period and genre bibliographies (published between 1958 and 1991) principally of literatures in English. After an initial section for anonymous works, entries are arranged by author, then by literary works, with page references cited for individual bibliographies. A time-saving source for determining which specialized bibliographies include sections on a work or an author.

National Bibliographies[edit]

National bibliographies attempt to record documents printed within a country or region; as such, they are essential works for identifying editions of a work, investigating printing history, and re-creating the intellectual and cultural milieu of a work.



Domay, Friedrich. Bibliographie der nationalen Bibliographien / Bibliographie mondiale des bibliographies nationales / A World Bibliography of National Bibliographies. Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 1987. 557 pp. Hiersemanns Bibliographische Handbücher 6. Z1002.A1 D65.

A bibliography of approximately 3,000 retrospective and current national bibliographies (and related works) published by the end of 1980 (with coverage of some countries extending through mid-1982). Organized by continent, then region, countries variously and inconsistently include divisions for a variety of reference works (e.g., historical overviews, bibliographies of bibliographies, guides to reference books, lists of auction catalogs, biographical dictionaries, lists of dissertations) besides the national bibliographies and trade lists (listed by initial year of coverage). The annotations describe content, organization, and scope; cite cumulations or related works and scholarship; and occasionally offer an evaluative comment. Indexed by persons and titles (but with numerous errors and inconsistencies). Although admitting numerous works that are hardly national bibliographies, inexplicably omitting New Zealand, offering haphazard organization within several countries, citing numerous superseded works, and being less current than one should expect, Bibliographie der nationalen Bibliographien nonetheless offers the fullest guide to national bibliographies worldwide.

For more current and better organized—but generally less thorough—coverage, see

  • Beaudiquez, Marcelle, ed. Inventaire général des bibliographies nationales rétrospectives / Retrospective National Bibliographies: An International Bibliography. München: Saur, 1986. 189 pp. IFLA Pubs. 35. An inventory of retrospective national bibliographies for all countries except European socialist ones, with French or English annotations that describe sources, scope, coverage, and organization. The quality of annotations varies with the contributor, much information is taken secondhand, and there are significant omissions, but this work defines national bibliography more narrowly than Domay does and describes some works omitted by him.
  • Bell, Barbara L. An Annotated Guide to Current National Bibliographies. 2nd ed. Munich: Saur, 1998. 487 pp. UBCIM Pubs. ns 18. A bibliography of national bibliographies that record current publications within a country. A typical annotation identifies scope, coverage, contents, cataloging rules and classification scheme, content of an entry, arrangement, indexing, predecessors, supplementary works, published guides, currency, print and electronic formats, current deposit laws, and selected scholarship. The extensive commentary under most countries offers a wealth of information about current and, in some cases, retrospective national bibliographies. Review: (Beaudiquez and Bell [1986 ed.]) D. W. Krummel, Libraries and Culture 24.2 (1989): 217–30.

Background Reading[edit]


Linder, LeRoy Harold. The Rise of Current Complete National Bibliography. New York: Scarecrow, 1959. 290 pp. Z1001.3.L5 015.

A history of current national bibliographies published in England, France, Germany, and the United States from the sixteenth century through 1939. Limited to current complete national bibliographies (and thus excluding retrospective ones such as the Short-Title Catalogues [M1990 and M1995] and Evans, American Bibliography [Q4005]), Linder also covers some periodical indexes and lists of newspapers and dissertations. After an initial definition of national bibliographies and discussion of their importance, chapters proceed chronologically, surveying by country the content, organization, and development of individual works. Concludes with three appendixes (the most useful one being a chronological list of national bibliographies by country, with dates of coverage and symbols indicating scope and organization) and a selected bibliography. Indexed by titles and persons. The chronological organization means that the discussion of some works is split between two or more chapters; the focus is blurred by the admission of numerous works that hardly qualify as national bibliographies; there is little evaluation; and the work still reads like the dissertation it originally was. Nonetheless, it is the most complete history of current national bibliographies through 1939. Review: Archer Taylor, Library Quarterly 30.2 (1960): 150–52.