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Resources for Rare Books: An Annotated Bibliography: Americana

Resources Specific to Princeton University Library

  • Guide to Americana Holdings Divided into four groupings: I. Kane Collection  II. McCormick Collection  III. General Rare Book Collection  IV. Scheide Library.

General Reference

  • American National Biography (ANB) Authoritative bios of more than 18,000 prominent people who lived in what is now the United States from the Colonial Period to the present. Everyone included is deceased. Includes bibliographic data on publications by and about these individuals. Search by name or various characteristics including gender, ethnicity, occupation, dates.

Online Catalogues and Census Databases

  • North American Imprints Program (NAIP). The American equivalent to the English Short-Title Catalogue, the NAIP attempts to record all books, pamphlets, and broadsides printed through the year 1876 in what are now the United States and Canada. Though available through the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) catalog, NAIP is not limited to items held by AAS, but attempts to described extant items regardless of their location.

Print Resources


  • Tanselle, G. Thomas.  Guide to the Study of United States Imprints. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971. Provides a useful appendix of 250 titles on U.S. publishing and the top 250 reference books in this field (some outdated). Includes regional list: books printed in a particular region, city, time period and genre list. Searchable via Google Books: V.1 & V.2
  • Moebs, Thomas Truxtun.  U. S. Reference-iana, 1481-1899. Williamsburg, Virginia: Moebs Publishing Co., 1989. Compiled by Maryland bookseller. A valuable resource listing standard bibliographies and catalogues on a particular Americana subject.  Regretfully, the publication does not include an index.
  • Howes, Wright.  U.S.iana, 1650-1950. Revised and enlarged edition. New York: Bowker, 1962. A very selective and somewhat outdated bibliography.
  • Stillwell, Margaret Bingham.  Incunabula and Americana, 1450-1800.  A Key to Bibliography Study.  New York: Columbia University Press, 1930. Encompasses all of the Americas—not just North America.  A good introduction to Americana reference books, as well as "Foreign bibliographical terms" (p. 203-214), "Latin contractions and abbreviations" (p. 215-225), and "Place-names of fifteenth century printing towns" (p. 227-248). Searchable via Google Books: 2nd ed.

 Bibliographies and Catalogues:

  • Evans, Charles.  American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets, and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from …1639 to… 1800.  Chicago: 1903-1959.  Fourteen volumes. The standard work covering anything printed in the U.S. Superseded by NAIP.

Bristol, roger.  Supplement to Charles Evans’ American bibliography.  1970.

Shipton, Clifford K. and Mooney, James E.  National Index of American Imprints through 1800; the Short-Title Evans.  Worcester, Massachusetts: American Antiquarian Society, 1969.  Two volumes.