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Poole’s Index to Periodical Literature

Thirty-five years ago when a student in Yale College and connected with the library of one of the literary societies, I indexed such reviews and magazines as were accessible, and arranged the reference under topics for the purpose of helping the students in the preparation of their written exercises and society discussions. I had noticed that the sets of standard periodicals with which the library was well supplied were not used, although they were rich in the treatment of subjects about which inquiries were made in vain every day. My work, though crude and feeble on its bibliographical side, answered its purpose, and brought me to the whole body of students for a kind of help they could not get from the library catalogues, nor from any other source. My manuscript was in great demand, and as it was rapidly wearing out, and printing seemed to be the only expedient for saving the work, it was put to press, and appeared with the title, “Index to Subjects treated in the Reviews and other Periodicals,” New York, 1848, 8vo, 154pp. The edition of five hundred copies was chiefly taken by other colleges, and soon disappeared. The little book is now a curiosity in more senses than one. For twenty years I had not seen a copy, when, in 1877, I saw it in the reading room of the British Museum, with its leaves discolored and nearly worn through by constant handling.

My first experiment in making a general index to periodicals to be so useful, and, notwithstanding its shortcomings, was so kindly received, that I immediately set about the preparations of a larger work on a similar plan, and with such improvements in the arrangement and methods of work as my brief experience suggested. The list of periodicals was much enlarged, and the references were brought down to January, 1852. The second edition, with six times the amount of matter contained in the first, appeared with the title, “Index to Periodical Literature,” New York, 1853, 8vo, x+521pp. The edition of one thousand copies was soon exhausted, and whenever within the past twenty-five years a second-hand copy has been offered for sale, it has brought the price of a rare book.

With the publication of the edition of 1853 I had supposed that my connection with the work ended; for my professional duties as a librarian left me no time during the usual working hours to continue it, and the bulk of periodical literature had so enormously increased, that no one person, even if he gave it his whole time, could grapple with it alone. I had hoped that some one with the zeal, experience, and staying qualities needed would appear, to take up the work where I had left it, and, with the aid he could readily command, carry it on. Such a person I have diligently sought for, and have patiently instructed and tested several candidates who promised well at first; but, to my sincere regret during these many years, the man I was looking for did not come in sight. In the mean while the libraries of the country and literary men have been clamoring for a new edition of “Poole’s Index” brought down to the latest date. Scarcely a day has passed for the past quarter of a century that my mail did not bring some inquiry on the subject. For the want of a new edition, various toilsome and expensive expedients have been devised for keeping up and index to the current periodicals as they appeared. In some libraries the references have been made on cards and inserted in the card catalogue; and in others they have been made on slips and arranged in a separate collection. None of these schemes have proved to be practicable, and after a brief trial have been abandoned, or so modified as to include only the more important articles. Periodical literature was never so rich as during the past thirty years. The best writers and the great statesmen of the world, where they formerly wrote a book or pamphlet, now contribute an article to a leading review or magazine, and it is read before the month is ended in every country in Europe, in America, in India, Australia, and New Zealand. Every question in literature, religion, politics, social science, political economy, and in many other lines of human progress, finds it latest and freshest interpretation in the current periodicals. No one can thoroughly investigate any of these questions without knowing what the periodicals have said and are saying concerning them.

At the first meeting of the AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, held at Philadelphia in October, 1876, the demand was renewed for a new edition of my Index. In response to the call, I stated that if we waited for one person to make it, it would never be made, and proposed to the librarians present a co-operative plan by which the result they so much desired could be reached. The plan, in brief, was this: I would print and send to all the principle libraries a list of periodicals which it was desirable to index, on which such complete sets as the library had would be checked and the lists returned to me. Having received these lists, I would make an equitable distribution of the work, taking a full share of it myself, and giving to the larger libraries more, and to the smaller libraries less. Each library would engage to index in according to a code of rules which would be furnished the set or sets of periodicals allotted to it, and send the references to me, who would revise, arrange, and incorporate the same with the matter of the edition of 1853 and with the work of all the other contributors. I would assume all the pecuniary responsibilities incurred, employ such assistance as was needed, print the work, and furnish a copy to each contributing library.

The plan proposed was adopted by acclamation; and I am able to say, with a feeling of pride in the character and zeal of my American associates in the library profession, that every promise of co-operation then made has been faithfully performed. There was no complaint in the allotment of the work, and every contributor’s quota was promptly and cheerfully furnished. The “List of Contributors” is given on a succeeding page, and the work done by each is indicated in the last column of the list of “Abbreviations, Titles, and Imprints” which follows.

At the same meeting, and at my suggestion, Mr Justin Winsor, Librarian of Harvard University, MR CHARLES A. CUTTER, Librarian of the Boston Athenaeum, and myself, were constituted a committee for consultation on bibliographical questions relating to the new edition. All the details of the plan were considered and unanimously concurred in by this committee, and circulars were issued to the contributors giving rules for indexing, and other directions,. My sincere thanks are due to MR WINSOR and MR CUTTER for their counsel and cordial co-operation during the progress of the work.

In seeking for an Associate Editor to share with me the great task I had undertaken, my first choice was MR WLLIAM I. FLETCHER, Assistant Librarian of the Watkinson Library, Hartford, Conn., whose rare executive ability, experience, and perseverance were the special qualities needed. MR FLETCHER had been my assistant in the Boston Athenaeum Library, and I knew his mettle. His services, with the cordial consent of his chief, DR. J HAMMOND TRUMBELL, were fortunately secured; and no praise I can here render will fully express my admiration and zeal and efficiency with which he has aided me, and my appreciation of his accurate work. Without such assistance as his, the consummation of my plans would have been simply impossible.

In October, 1877, when the co-operative scheme was well in progress in the United States, I visited England with a delegation of American Librarians to attend the first International Conference of Librarians, in London. At this Conference the scheme was explained, and an invitation extended to the Library Association of the United Kingdom, which was then formed, to unite with the American Library Association in carrying it out. The proposal was courteously received, and a committee was appointed to consider and report upon it. The first opinion expressed in the Conference, after the project had been presented, was that the co-operative feature would be a failure; for it was not likely that the librarians of that county would work, as the Americans were doing, without pay. The failure of the Philological Society’s Dictionary conducted on the co-operative plan was mentioned in the support of this opinion. On further consideration the committee reported in favour of joining the American scheme, and made an allotment to English librarians of work to be done.

Some of the work allotted was promptly finished and sent in; but much of it was not done in season to be included in this edition. The statement will explain why the Academy, Athenaeum, Saturday Review, Economist, Literary Gazette, Spectator, and some other English serials, do not appear in the list of periodicals indexed. The Academy, Athenaeum, and Saturday Review were assigned to a warm supporter of the co-operative scheme, Dr. H. O. Coxe, Librarian of the Bodelian Library, Oxford, and were accepted by him. Several letters expressing his interest in the work, and some of his manuscript, were received; and then his illness and death intervened. This incident will be to many English scholars, as it is to the American librarians who made the acquaintance of Dr. Coxe in the Conference at London and were entertained by him at Oxford, a painful reminder of the lamented decease of that genial and eminent scholar.

Of the twenty-five serials allotted by the English committee to the English librarians, eight are included in this edition. There was a genuine and growing interest felt in the work by the English librarians, and an intention to take a larger part in it than appears in the above statement; but it must be said in explanation that their attention was directed to it, and the allotments made, a year later than in America. If the publication had been delayed for a year, doubtless more of the work would have been done. It was a sudden call upon the English librarian to give up for several weeks or months his hours of rest and recreation. Perhaps the climate and social customs of England are not so favourable as they are in America for night work. With the editors it has been wholly a matter of night work, or, as Dr. Bushnell-who defined by another word than work that effort which is not a burden, which for the love of it, and cannot help doing-would say, night play. A professional pride, and a feeling that what they were doing would be a benefit to others, have doubtless with all the contributors changed toil into a pleasurable recreation.

For several reasons it has seemed advisable not to wait for further contributions, but to go to press with the matter which was ready. The call for immediate publication was urgent; the work of the American contributors was all in; and the material in hand was again six times as large as the previous edition. The publication of so extended a work in this almost untried field of bibliography was an experiment; and it became a serious question with the publishers whether it was prudent at this time to make it larger. If the experiment, as a business enterprise, failed, it would discourage the publication of other helpful works in bibliography; and if it were a success, many similar works would follow. In any event, whether a success or not, supplements to this edition, bringing the references down to the latest date, and enlarging the list of periodicals, will be issued every five years, which will include as much of the work of the English librarians as shall be ready. Supplements in a style uniform with this edition will be issued every five years, which will include not only the periodicals which have appeared during that period, but older serials which are worthy of being indexed, and are not included in this edition. A scheme is also under consideration of issuing, in some form, annual indexes, which will be condensed in the five-year supplements; but the scheme in not sufficiently matured to make at this time a positive announcement.

The plan of the work will best be understood by an inspection of its pages. It will be seen that it is essentially the plan of the edition of 1853; that all serials indexed are in the English language; and only such of these are likely to be found in libraries and private collections. Medical, legal, botanical, microscopical, and other purely professional and scientific serials have been generally omitted, as they do not fall within the limits which it was necessary to prescribe for this undertaking. Several of a scientific and semi-professional character have been indexed so far as their articles of general interest are concerned. The main purpose in the work has been to meet the average wants of students, literary men, and writers for the press, -in other words, to help general scholars, who are many, in preference to the few who give their whole attention to a single topic. The specialist will find much in these pages which meets his needs; but he has want which special indexes only can supply. What Dr. J.S. Billings, in charge of the Medical Library of the Surgeon-General's Office in Washington, is so admirably and exhaustively doing for medical bibliography, ought to be done by other specialists in law, botany, geology, astronomy, and every other profession and science.

The work is an index to subjects and not to writers, except when writers are treated as subjects. The contributions of Lord Macaulay to the Edinburgh Review do not appear under his name, but under the subjects upon which he wrote, as Bacon, Church and State, Clive Machiavelli, etc. His name, however, appears with many references; but they are all subject-references, which treat of him as a man, writer, a historian and statesman. Critical articles on poetry, the drama, and prose fiction appear under the name of the writer whose work or works are criticised. A review of “Enoch Arden” will be found under Tennyson, and of “Ivanhoe” under Scott; but a review of Froude’s “History of England” will appear only under England, as England is the subject. A poem, a play, a story, or a sketch which can be said to have no subject, appears under its own title. The name of the writer when known is given within parentheses. Hawthorne’s “Celestial Railroad” first appeared in a periodical, and is indexed “Celestial Railroad” (N. Hawthorne).” A review of the same, by a writer who is known, would be indexed, “Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Celestial Railroad (J. Smith).” By this method all criticisms of Hawthorne’s imaginative writings are brought together under his name; but the review of a bibliographical work of his is placed under the subject of the biography.

The following extracts from the printed rules for indexing which were furnished to the contributors will further explain the methods adopted:-

“All references must be made from the inspection and, if necessary, the perusal of each article. Hence no use will be made of the index which is printed with each volume, or of any other index. Theses indexes are usually made without method or intelligence, and are full of all sorts of errors….No person should be assigned to the work of indexing who is not competent to catalogue books on Mr. Cutter’s or the British Museum system. The work of the inexperienced person will be worse than useless.…Abundant cross-references will be given, and especially in cases where they will not be obvious to the editors in the final arrangement….A single reference to an article will, in most cases, be sufficient; but if several subjects of importance are treated in the same paper, or it is likely to be looked for under more than one heading, two or more references will be made. The references will be as brief and comprehensive as possible. In most instances the author’s own title best expresses the subject of his paper; but if the author has given it an obscure or fanciful title, the indexer will give it a better one, and will place it under the heading where it naturally belongs. References to trivial and inconsequential matters must be avoided….In no case index English reviews and magazines in American editions, unless the paging of the originals and reprints are identical.”

The abbreviations used in the references are more concise and systematic than in the previous editions. Proper names do not easily admit of abbreviations, but the words Review, Magazine, Journal and Quarterly, which occur frequently, are indicated intelligibly by the letters R. M., J., and Q. Atlan (Atlantic) Bentley, Blackw. (Blackwood), Cornh. (Cornhill), Fraser, Harper, Macmil. (Macmillan), will be understood without the abbreviation for Monthly, Miscellany, Magazine, etc., which make up their full titles. They are usually spoken of by their abbreviated titles, as Atlantic, Bentley etc. The titles of the review are, in common parlance abbreviated in the same manner, as North American, North British, British Quarterly, Quarterly, and London Quarterly and hence the abbreviations used, No. Am, No. Brit., Brit. Q., Quar., and Lond. Q., will be readily intelligible. It must be noticed that the Quarterly Review and London Quarterly Review are different serials. The title of the latter, which is the organ of the Methodist denomination in England, is often erroneously given to the former, which is the political organ of the Tory party.

It has not been possible in the references to indicate the minor changes which have been made from time to time in the title of the same serial. That title has been assumed by which the serial is best known. The American Whig Review started as the American Review, and later took the title which properly describes it. The Democratic Review in its later stages had a medley of titles, which if used no one would now recognize. The Dublin University Magazine, which stopped in 1880, dropped in 1878 Dublin from its title. The whole series of ninety-six volumes are nevertheless referred to as Dub. Univ. With a still greater latitude, Colburn’s New Monthly Magazine, through its whole series of 169 volumes, is referred to as Colburn, even when the name did not appear on the titlepage, and the serial had passed out of the hands of the original publisher. The organ of the Presbyterian Church in New York appeared from 1853 to 1871 in three series, each with a different title. The twenty volumes have been brought together and numbered consecutively as American Presbyterian Review, - the last of the titles used. The series from 1872, when it united with the Princeton Review, to 1877, appears as Presbyterian Quarterly Review. The “Chronological Conspectus,” Nos. 123 and 231, will enable the owner of the series to number the volumes to correspond with the references in these pages. These instances will serve to explain the manner in which changes in titles, often capricious and unnecessary, have been treated. Strict bibliographical accuracy in representing these changes in the references was out of the question, as it would have introduced a bewildering complication of titles and abbreviations.

Another difficulty which required heroic treatment has grown out of the absurd practice in many periodicals of breaking the continuity in the numbering of volumes by starting new series. The Eclectic Review has seven new series, and these series are not numbered. The St. James’s Magazine began with numbering consecutively twenty-one volumes; then occurred a new series of fourteen volumes; then a second new series of four volumes; then consecutive numbering from the beginning was adopted, and the next volume was numbered thirty-one when it should have been forty, - leaving out nine volumes. In cases like these, what appears on the title pages has been wholly ignored, and the volumes have been numbered consecutively from the beginning. As a general rule, series have not been regarded, and sets have been numbered consecutively; although in a few instances, and for special reasons, the rule has been varied from. In some periodicals a difficulty of another kind has appeared, when a continuous numbering of volumes has been kept up after both the title and the character of the serial has been changed. As an organ of the Methodist Church in the United States, the Methodist Magazine was issued from 1818 to 1840, in two series, twenty-two volumes. In 1841 the Methodist Quarterly Review, a work of a different character, took its place, and was called third series, which has been followed by a fourth series, - in all forty-one volumes. They were numbered continuously from the beginning of the Methodist Magazine, which was issued contemporaneously in London, and also indexed in this work; and the latter has been referred to as Meth. Q., each with a consecutive numbering of its own, and no regard has been paid to series, or to the numbering on the titlepages of the latter. The “Chronological Conspectus”,” Nos. 15 and 78, shows the numbering which has been used.

In the previous edition an attempt was made to give with the reference the name of the writer of the article, as far as the writers could be identified. In periodicals which do not give the names of the contributors, the identification is very difficult; yet in several serials, as the North American Review and Christian Examiner, the writer of nearly every article was given. The identification has been carried still further in this edition, and perhaps more labor has been spent upon it than its importance demanded. No avenue of search or inquiry has been neglected. Every accessible collection of essays and miscellaneous writings which contributors have issued has been gleaned, and volumes of biography and literary correspondence, without number, has been examined. There was a fascination in the search which made it a recreation. Correspondence to the same end has been carried on with several friends in the great libraries of England and Scotland, who offered me their assistance; but they have been able to give little or no information which was not already in my possession. It is a singular fact that less is there known of the anonymous contributors to the British periodicals than can be ascertained in this country. My friend, Mr. JAMES T. CLARK, Librarian of the Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh, took the trouble to examine all the sets of Edinburgh serials in his library for the inserted names of contributors, and failed to find a single one. He sent me, however, a list of contributions to the North British Review by an eminent writer, which he expressed some scruples in giving up without the consent of the contributor. Every one of them I had already, and had found them, with many others, carefully pencilled in the set of the North British in the Chicago Public Library; and with such evidence of accuracy and contemporary authenticity that I have been given implicit confidence to the whole record. The scruples which my friend Mr. Clark expressed in giving up, or inquiring into the authorship of, anonymous contributions, I found to be a common feeling with English librarians, and perhaps explains why so little is known on the subject in that country. On this side of the water we have no scruples of that kind, and rather take pleasure in printing the name of a contributor who would like to have it suppressed. The public have literary rights as well as contributors, and are entitled to know whose statements and opinions they are reading. The leading reviews of our day – as the Nineteenth Century, Fortnightly, Contemporary, North American, International, and nearly all the magazines – recognize this fact, and print the names of their contributors. The old-line serials – as the Edinburgh, Quarterly and Blackwood – will soon come into this new and better arrangement. There was never any secrecy in these serials as to the authorship of articles written by Macaulay, Carlyle, and other great contributors. The cue was often given to the public in advance of the publication, and served as an advertisement for selling the issue.

Of the introductory tables, perhaps the only one which requires explanation is the “Chronological Conspectus”. The serials here are arranged in the order of their seniority, and are numbered consecutively. These numbers are attached to each title in the alphabetical list of “Abbreviations, Titles, and Imprints.” The titles of the serials are placed at the top of the table, and the years in the left-hand column. The volume of volumes issued during any year appear at the intersection of these lines. A glance will therefore show when a periodical began; if discontinued, when it ended; and the date when any volume was published. That the tables might not be too much incumbered with figures, only the last volume issued in year, after the first year, is given, as the others can readily be inferred. The volumes 94, 96, and 98 are given as the issues of the Edinburgh Review for 1851, 1852, and 1853. The earlier volumes for these years, which are not expressed, are 93, 95, 97. In these tables the imprint of the volume – which is not made until after the volume is finished – determines bibliographically its date. Considered simply as numbers, a periodical may have a date a year earlier than if treated as a completed volume. Many cataloguers give to periodical dates, not from imprints, but from the issue of the first numbers. It is therefore proper to state the method which has been followed in these tables, as the dates in many instances will not correspond with those given by the other method. The heavy line across the table at the close of each decennial period will aid the eye in its search. The “Chronological Conspectus” will serve several useful purposes: -

1. It will enable the reader readily to ascertain the date when any article appeared. He has, for instance, the reference “Fortn. 29: 816,” and would like to ascertain the date of the article. He turns to Fortnightly in the alphabetical list, and finds its number to be 161 in the chronological order of the “Conspectus.” He there finds that volume 30 was in the last volume of 1878, and hence volume 29 was the first volume of that year. If he knows anything of the size and paging of the Fortnightly, he infers that page 816 will be in the number for June, 1878.

2. It will give the volumes of the same date in other serials. Each period has its own topics of interest which gradually give place to others. It is interesting to trace the discussion of a question through contemporary serials, and though earlier and later periods.

3. It will enable librarians and others whose sets are broken up into series or numbered erroneously to re-number the volumes to correspond with the numbering of the Index. This can readily be done by attaching to each volume an adhesive tag with the proper number upon it.

The co-operative feature of this work will attract the attentions of persons interested in this special phase of social science. That fifty libraries different in organization and objects – National, State, stock, subscription, college, and free public institutions, - scattered over this broad country from San Francisco to Boston, and across the ocean in England and Scotland, should have joined hands and worked in harmony for a common object, each receiving the full benefit of the work of all the others, is an incident in bibliography and literature which has no parallel. The American Library Association and the Library Association of the United Kingdom have given the project their sanction and moral support; but these Associations have had no responsibility, direction, or control through committees or otherwise of its management. All the work has been done voluntarily and without pay. No money subscription has been asked of any one, and not a farthing has been contributed from any source; for no money was needed. There has been, however, no gratuitous or charitable feature in it. Every contributing library will receive back the money value – some thirtyfold, some sixty, some a hundred – of the labor which its librarian has put into it. The labor, which has been credited to his library, has been done usually in hours of his own, taken from rest and recreation. The librarian will have his pay in the consciousness that what he has done will benefit his library and his readers, and may help his professional reputation. Persons who look only to pecuniary reward should never engage in this kind of work. Up to this time all the pecuniary reward I have had for indexing during these many years can be represented by the American copper coin which will cover one’s thumb nail; and yet I have been well paid. As the person who has had the sole management of all the details of this enterprise, I desire to put on record this testimony in behalf of the co-operative principle. It is simple, effective, and attended with no embarrassments or difficulties of any kind. I have doubt whether a society organization, with its officers, committees, and ample funds for the payment of workers, could bring about more effective results.

When we begin to pay for the service the knights leave the line, and their places are filled with retainers and camp followers. When the knights are few and these sulk in their tents, perhaps there is no better substitute for co-operation than an organization with the motto, Quid pro quo in pecunia. The acceptable and unexpected services of a contributor, whose name does not appear in the list, must not be overlooked. It was necessary in the progress of the work to make constant use of the express companies in transmitting copy to and fro between Chicago and Hartford. When the manager of the Adams Express Company heard of the character of the work and its co-operative feature, he claimed the privileges of a contributor, and directed that all parcels relating to the work should be transmitting without pay.

Besides continuing the supplements of this Index, is there not other bibliographical work which can be carried on the same method? At the meeting of the American Library Association in Cincinnati, in May last, I suggested that a General Index to books other than periodicals was much needed by students and literary men.

In writing this closing paragraph, which completes my allotted task, I desire to tender my warmest thanks to my Associate Editor, the contributors, the careful proof-readers of the University Press, and all who have aided in the production of this volume; and to express the hope that when it comes into the hands of my fifty co-workers and personal friends, whose names appear on the opposite page, it will meet their reasonable expectations.

William Frederick Poole

Chicago, Nov. 29, 1882.

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