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Early English Newspapers

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About this Collection

Early English Newspapers


In 1818, the British Library, then the British Museum, acquired the library of Dr. Charles Burney, and with it, one of the most extensive newspaper collections ever formed. Simply stated it consisted of a numerous and rare series of newspapers, from 1603 to 1818, amounting in whole to 700 volumes, which was more than any other that was supposed to be extant. Many years later in 1865, the newspaper collection of John Nicholls, Burneys only rival as a newspaper collector, was purchased for the Bodleian Library in Oxford. By producing Early English Newspapers, Primary Source Microfilm, an imprint of Gale Group (formerly Research Publications) has, for the first time, brought these two collections, as well as newspapers from the nineteenth century, together on microfilm, so that one can at last fill the gaps of the other.

The importance of these newspapers as a significant record of the social, intellectual, and political history of Modern Europe and as a unique record of the development and diversity of the newspaper press, has become increasingly evident to scholars of the 20th century. Competition among librarians for early newspapers has become more intense, while increasing use of the newspapers has posed a threat to their physical preservation. For this reason, the microfilm collection Early English Newspapers not only provides scholars with an unparalleled wealth of information, but does so while solving the problems of constant usage and preservation.

Titles for current inclusion in the Early English Newspapers collection are selected from a list compiled from the London Times Tercentenary Handlist of English and Welsh Newspapers, Magazines, and Reviews; the British Museums Catalogue of Printed Books, Supplement: Newspapers Published in Great Britain and Ireland, 1891-1900; and the Catalogue of Newspapers Library, Colindale; and the Bodleian Library Pre -1920 Catalogue of Printed Books. Only newspapers published in London and its suburbs are chosen, and the British Library is the primary source for the collection.

Early English Newspapers is filmed on archival quality 35mm silver halide microfilm and contains over 6,000 reels.

Use of the Guide

In its original form, the Burney Collection was assembled and bound chronologically, making access difficult. Primary Source Microfilm has filmed the newspapers by title, literally taking hundreds of volumes and filming them a bit at a time in order to reproduce the material title-by-title.

It is important to note here that the amount of bibliographic information varies greatly depending on availability. The guide editors employed numerous reference materials to compile the information, as well as citations culled from the actual newspapers. Much of the material is so rare and undocumented that bibliographic information was virtually impossible to locate.

Two important aspects of the guide should be noted here:

Reel Location Information

Due to the nature and availability of the material, the film editors found it necessary to break the newspapers into three categories:

1. Long-run newspapers are filmed on discrete reels that are identified by the newspapers title. As a result, the reel information section for these titles identifies the reels on which these titles may be found by quantity only. (e.g. British Journal. On 2 reels).

2. Shorter-run newspapers that were significant in quantity, but nevertheless not enough to warrant a discrete reel are grouped together. The guide identifies the reel on which a particular title may be found by the first title on the reel. (e.g. English Post. On Multiple-title reel: Englishman).

3. Much of the 17th-century material and less of the later years included miscellaneous issues of numerous titles. These extremely short runs are grouped into 6 reels of microfilm, labeled A-F. The guide indicates on which miscellaneous reel a title is located (e.g. English Gazette. On Miscellaneous Reel A).

Issues Lacking

Following the reel information, an issues lacking statement is made when appropriate. This applies only to material on film, not the complete run of the newspaper. For the most part the editors have employed the general statement, "Scattered issues lacking." Specific notations on which issues are lacking can be found in the form of notes preceding the title on the microfilm.

Title change information has been included where applicable. When title changes have been filmed on other reels, a See also note is attached. Appropriate cross-references have been inserted from those titles for which there is no film, but for which film of title changes is available.