Victoria Research
Web

Printed Sources: Libraries, Serials, Books

Research Guides and Works of Reference

Sharon W. Propas's Victorian Studies: A Research Guide (second edition, 2006), provides valuable descriptive listings of many reference resources, including specialist bibliographies, from a cross-disciplinary perspective. Aimed at helping graduate students plan their research projects, the Propas guide updates and supplements Lionel Madden's classic How to Find Out About the Victorian Period (Oxford: Pergamon, 1970). One of the best starting-places is Sally Mitchell, Editor, Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland, 1988), which contains articles on a wide range of topics, each of which lists suggested books for further reading. Good reference books for literary topics include John Sutherland's incomparably witty and erudite Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction (Stanford: 1988) and Blackwell's Companion to Victorian Literature (New York, 1998), edited by Herbert Tucker. The past ten years have seen a boom in the publication of other "companions" and "encyclopedias," most of them devoted to individual authors (Dickens, Trollope, Carlyle, etc.) These volumes are often of very high calibre, indeed, with articles by experts that draw upon a wide range of recent scholarship.

 

Doing Research in Victorian Fiction: Historical, Critical, and Reference Sources has been made available to VRW by Professor Sally Mitchell of Temple University, who put this extensive bibliography together for her graduate course in women's fiction for the period 1875-1900. In addition to its specific sections on women and fiction, Professor Mitchell's guide provides helpfully annotated entries for reference sources of essential importance to all researchers in Victorian history and culture.
Yet another fine resource--Aids to Research in British Victorian Periodical Literature: A Selected Bibliography--has been made available exclusively to VRW by Dr. Rosemary T. VanArsdel, Distinguished Professor of English, Emerita, of the University of Puget Sound. This useful guide lists biographical sources, histories of individual periodicals, and critical commentaries, and is updated at intervals.

 

Prominent among essential reference resources is of course that monument to Victorian industry, the Dictionary of National Biography. In 2004 appeared the long-awaited Oxford DNB, which brings online 55,000 specially commissioned new entries as well as revised editions of all original entires (which remain, however, readily available), and including a great many illustrations. Searchable in all sorts of useful ways, this magnificent resource should any Victorianist's first stop for biographical information. The BL's site presents a handy BL guide to other biographical resources. One not yet listed: Bernard Lightman, ed., Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century British Scientists, 2004, in four volumes.

 

The task of editing and annotating a 19th-century text usually means tracking down allusions and quotations by the score. Some electronic resources, like the subscription-only English Poetry from ProQuest (formerly English Poetry Full-Text Database) and the free online version of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable can be a big help. But printed sources are still essential to the task, and a fine guide to those sources can be found in George Thomson's bibliography of resources for identifying quotations and allusions, which he has generously made available exclusively to the VRW as an aid to fellow scholars.

 

Parliamentary papers are a world unto themselves, but one that can yield very useful results to the determined researcher. Some libraries will have the full indices to these papers on CD-ROM. "Blue Books," or the reports of Parliamentary committees investigating various social problems, are among the most revealing of all products of Victorian culture. A handy way to locate some of the more important reports of interest is through the BOPCRIS service, which allows you to search a selection of major reports by keyword and date range. With the information supplied there, you can quickly find the reports in a good research library's holdings of Sessional Papers (another common term for "Parliamentary papers," consisting of the record of each House of Commons session). Plans are under way to digitize the full text of many of these original reports; BOPCRIS's sister site, EPPI, which covers reports generated between 1801 and 1922 that relate to Ireland, will soon have 14,000 reports and associated materials available online. A fine print resource is the multi-volume series from the Irish University Press in its bright green covers, which features reprints of 19th-century Parliamentary reports helpfully organized by subject.

 

Of more general assistance is the latest (6th) edition of Ann Hoffmann's Research for Writers (A. C. Black, 1999). Addressing the practical needs of all kinds of writers, from historians to novelists, Hoffmann gives excellent down-to-earth advice and supplies useful lists of reference works as well as the opening hours, addresses, and phone numbers of major libraries and archives, particularly those in Britain. Yale University Library's Research Guide to British History helpfully covers a range of useful sources and how to find them, including atlases, dissertations, and catalogs.
For information about selected research guides that deal primarily with the manuscript holdings in libraries and other places, please refer to the listings in the "Archival Sources" section of VRW.

Libraries

University libraries represent one of the most extensive on-line resources for the researcher, with easy access to hundreds of catalogues. Online catalogues of American libraries can be reached through the LIBCAT system, which offers many links to other library resources. The COPAC on-line catalogue at Manchester provides free centralized access to the catalogues of several major university libraries in Britain.

Not all material of 19th-century interest, of course, has been catalogued. Various projects have been begun in Britain in recent years to catalogue rare materials from many libraries. The 19th-Century Pamphlets Project of the RLUK, now completed, created 179,090 records from tracts located in 49 different collections; briefly searchable by anyone, it is now only accessible through JSTOR

An important tool for Victorianists, but one that must be used with caution, is the Nineteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue (NSTC), Series I & II, 1801-1870, and Series III, 1871-1919, a union catalogue of titles published during this period in Britain, its colonies and the USA held in the British Library, the Bodleian, the University Library, Cambridge, the National Library of Scotland, Trinity College Library, Dublin, the University Library in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Harvard University Library and the Library of Congress. The database includes over 1,200,000 records. Originally available on CD from its creators, Avero Publications, it is now offered through Chadwyck-Healey, which is owned by ProQuest. Essential reading for scholars wanting to use the NSTC to arrive at conclusions about the quantity of particular types of books published during the 19th century is Simon Eliot's influential two-part analysis published in the journal Publishing History in 1997-98: Simon Eliot, `Patterns and Trends and the NSTC: some initial observations' Part I, Publishing History, XLII (Autumn 1997), 79-104; and Simon Eliot, `Patterns and Trends and the NSTC: some initial observations' Part II, Publishing History, XLIII (Spring 1998) 71-112.


The British Library

The British Library in its splendid modern quarters in St. Pancras lies at the center of many researchers' plans, and with good reason--its collections are incomparable. Advance preparations for your visit, especially if you haven't used the BL before, will help you to make the most of the experience. Access to the collections requires that you present a "reader pass" (what for a century and a half or so was called a "reader's ticket") for admission to any of the Reading Rooms. This includes manuscripts; unlike in the old Reading Room, you no longer need a separate pass for working with archival material. Obtaining a reader pass is a fairly straightforward process. Simply follow the signs in the lobby to the registration office (off to your right as you enter the lobby), fill out the application form, and join the queue. You must demonstrate that the materials needed can only be obtained at the British Library, a process that entails being interviewed by Library staff. Faculty and graduate students ("postgrads," in British parlance) need to bring a recommendation letter on their university's stationery from "someone in authority" there confirming the name and status of the applicant and briefly outlining the reasons for needing to use the BL. Bring your student ID if you have one, but in any case you'll need two current forms of identification--recent utility bills with your name and address seem to be the preferred method--to apply for your first pass or to renew an old one. The reader pass you'll wind up with (pink, with a magnetic strip, a photo that they'll take right there in the office, and a number you'll need to use to order books with) is good for up to three years. Enquiries about obtaining reader passes can be made by e-mail to Reader Admissions.

If you're primarily interested in looking at manuscripts, here's an additional precaution: try to bring a recommendation letter from someone (colleague, advisor) that specifically mentions the manuscripts or at least the manuscript collection that you need to see. Although you can't tell this ahead of time, some mss. turn out, when you order them, to be classified in such a way that your reader pass alone won't allow them to be brought to you, and only a note from some other scholar will suffice.

The most powerful tool available to BL users around the world is the new British Library Integrated Catalogue, a web interface to all of the library's catalogues that allows across-the-board searches as well as ordering of photocopies. In preparing to visit you can write in advance to request that as many as six items from the collection be held for you on the date you arrive. With so much material still stored offsite, requesting materials in advance can save valuable time. In making up your request, be sure to include all relevant pressmarks and identification numbers for each item, exactly as listed in the catalogue. You must also tell the librarians which reading room you will be using. Many Victorianists will be obliged to divide their time between the Humanities Reading Rooms, at which you can get post-1851 books, and the Rare Books and Music Reading Room, where you must go to read pre-1851 monographs. (Pre-1851 periodicals will for the time being be available at either room.) Finally, include the number of your reader pass. Enquiries can be sent by e-mail to Reader Services or by post or fax to:

Readers' Enquiries
The British Library
96 Euston Road, St. Pancras
London NW1 2DB
United Kingdom
tel: +44 171 412-7676
fax: +44 171 412-7609

The Library's reading rooms are open from 10:00 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Monday, 9:30 to 8 Tuesday through Thursday, and 9:30 a.m. til 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; the Manuscripts Reading Room closes at 5 p.m. M-S. It's a good idea to get there early--with the new rules allowing admission to undergraduates, seats fill up quickly, especially during holidays like Easter vacation. Arriving at the front of the building that faces Euston Road, enter the library by crossing the plaza dominated by the muscular naked man who is bent over double (aka Blake's "Newton") and going through the quick security check of your bag. Once inside, nip around downstairs to the right to deposit any bags or coats in the cloakroom. Your own bags are not allowed in the reading rooms, so you'll have to carry your notebooks and pencils loose in your hands or else pick up one of the clear plastic "British Library" bags stacked on a ledge across from the cloakroom. (If there aren't any plastic bags left, request one from the cloakroom attendant.) Laptop computers can be brought in, of course, and the new facilities have many electrical outlets for them. Use your reader's ticket to go through the automatic gates and proceed upstairs to the "Humanities One" Reading Room or the Rare Books and Music Reading Room.

Once in the Reading Room, the first thing you need to do is locate a seat, make a note of the number, and somehow mark it to show that it's occupied while you go in search of an unoccupied catalogue terminal. Readers no longer write up slips to order books and, conversely, Library staff no longer deliver books to one's desk. Instead, sit down at a terminal and order your selections via the online catalogue; as part of this process you will need to key in your ticket number and seat number. Return to your seat, and wait for the light to come on indicating that your books have arrived; this waiting period is why it's a good idea to order some materials in advance of your visit.

The BL is aiming for a 30-minute wait on books, but many will take much longer to arrive. Last call for requests is an hour before closing. Queue up at the Issue Desk to get your books (no more than six at one time); when done, queue up at the Issue Desk to return them. You don't get any kind of receipts for the books you turn in, so make your own record of them if you need one; up to six books at a time can be held for you overnight. The Library's Manuscripts Reading Room follows a very orderly set of procedures: after consulting the catalogue on a terminal, you fill in slips with the citation and your seat number and place them in the basket at the front desk. The manuscripts are then brought to your table. It is at this point that you may be told that the manuscript you have requested requires special clearance; have your letter from an advisor or colleague ready to show. Up to three manuscripts can be ordered in advance of your visit.

Among the many pertinent collections of the British Library, Victorianists will take special interest in the British Printed Collections, 1801-1914 that include online collections of newspapers, periodicals, and ephemera. The library has long been engaged in an ambitious project to reproduce its rarest 19th-century materials on microfilm, now in association with ProQuest. More than 28,000 19th-century titles are now on microfiche, divided into such subject areas as women writers, colonization, and publishing. A new website enables scholars to search the catalogue of the collection.

Periodicals

It is scarcely possible to overestimate the importance of periodicals as windows into Victorian culture. As John North has written, "Most of the eminent poets, novelists, and essayists were primarily known through the periodical literature of the time. The newly-literate classes found their reading material in this medium, such that periodicals (whether religious, political, mercantile, professional or scholarly) became a primary source of entertainment, instruction, information, and news, and an important means of social bonding." An excellent place to begin researching Victorian periodicals is with Rosemary T. VanArsdel's Selected Bibliography, mentioned above, which is prefaced by a helpful overview and history of research in this vital area of study.

A more detailed bibliography, recommended by Professor VanArsdel in its printed form, is now partially available online: the RSVP bibliography. RSVP is the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, whose journal, the Victorian Periodicals Review has long been the journal of record in this exciting field of study. The VPR has published the bibliography for many years, first annually and, more recently, every two years; the installments since 1999 are already accessible in digital form, and others are planned.  Since 2009, the VPR has been published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and is available through Project Muse. All serious students of 19th-century media should consider joining RSVP, which also hosts a Facebook Group for its members.

The indispensable source for the study of the major Victorian magazines and reviews is, of course, the venerable Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, 1824-1900 (5 volumes, Toronto, 1966-89), one of the 20th century's great feats of collaborative scholarship. The intensive research that went into the Wellesley revealed the identities of thousands of the men and women who wrote for some of the most prominent magazines, for the first time matching articles with their authors. Most research libraries will have a copy of this five-volume masterpiece in their reference rooms. In 1999, Routledge created a searchable CD-ROM version of the Wellesley that has now been supplanted by a more versatile online version available from ProQuest.

There have been many corrections and additions to the Wellesley Index that have been unearthed since the last volume of the Index appeared in 1989. The Curran Index to Wellesley Revisions, originally prepared by the late Eileen Curran for the VRW and also available as a supplement to the ProQuest online version of the Wellesley, now, under the guidance of Gary Simons, makes the latest discoveries about Victorian periodical authorship available in readily searchable form. But there may well be still more treasures, in the form of research on the authorship of articles in periodicals that were not included in the original Wellesley Index, that remain in the original working papers of the Index, housed at Wellesley College. A finding guide to the Wellesley Index archive, prepared in 1989, has recently come to light.

Professor Curran, part of the original Wellesley team of scholars, also made use of her extensive research notes and ongoing scholarly detective work to bring us "Biographies of Some Obscure Contributors to 19th-century Periodicals,", which sought to shed new light on some of the darker recesses of Victorian authorship. New entries will be added in the future from notes that Professor Curran left behind, and from contributions volunteered by other scholars

Another vital and monumental resource in this area is the Waterloo Directory of English, Irish, and Scottish newspapers and periodicals published between 1800 and 1900, a vast ongoing project. Edited by John North, the directory offers incomparably extensive bibliographical information to researchers. For anyone who needs to know when a 19th-century magazine or newspaper was published, what copies survive, and who published, edited, and wrote for it, the Waterloo Directory should be the first port of call. The second series now features no fewer than 50,000 entries, and is available in both print form (20 volumes) and in an online edition. A 90-day trial subscription to the online version allows you to wander at liberty through this enormous storehouse, which now includes the names of all persons in the original DNB or Modern English Biography who were in any way associated with periodicals.

To locate copies of many of these titles, North American researchers will also want to consult Richard D. Fulton's Union list of Victorian serials; a union list of selected nineteenth-century British serials available in the United States and Canadian libraries. (Garland, 1985). See also Richard Altick's elegant 1952 essay about the Newberry Library's extensive collection of Victorian periodicals. 

Poole's Index to the contents of 19th-century American and British periodicals has long been an idiosyncratic but essential reference tool. An online version, acquired by the ubiquitous ProQuest, promises to bring a new usefulness to this old standby. Many scholars will find useful Michael Hancher's listing of early 19th-c. periodicals at the University of Minnesota library.

The Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism (2009) follows in the honored tradition of ambitious, collaborative reference works in this field, with hundreds of entries on titles, editors, contributors, and other aspects of the Victorian press.

The digital revolution, part 1

Indices and listings are essential research tools for studying Victorian periodicals, but what about direct access to the texts themselves? The pioneering Internet Library of Early Journals project created a digitized, searchable collection of portions of selected 18th- and 19th-century periodicals, freely accessible via the Web. Notes and Queries, 1849-58, and Blackwoods, 1843-51, and The Builder, 1843-1852, are the Victorian titles available in this way. Although the project was limited in scope, the newfound ability to search the texts of thousands of articles in these periodicals represented an important step forward. The ILEJ's larger U.S. counterpart, the "Making of America" collection of 19th-century periodicals (many of which contain excerpts from British magazines) has also demonstrated how useful uncorrected OCR texts of these sources, linked to page-images, could be.

With such projects as prologue, access to 19th-century periodicals have in the past ten years made a revolutionary advance. Gale Cengage has been digitizing complete 19th-century runs of dozens of titles, modeled on their successful Times Digital Archive, which offers institutional subscribers access to the full text of the London Times. This stunningly ambitious project, called 19th Century U.K. Periodicals Online, has enormous potential for the future of Victorian Studies. When complete, the project will be comprised of five series covering many genres and themes; the first installment of the series, for example, covering women, satire, empire, and children, includes such titles as the Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, Punch, Tomahawk, the Northern Star, and the Boy's Own Paper, along with many less familiar ones, the whole comprising some 1.2 million pages.

A quite promising initiative is also under way by ProQuest, Gale's arch-rival as publishers of digitized primary sources and works of reverence. ProQuest is working to digitize 500 British periodicals published between the 17th and the early 20th centuries, as part of its British Periodicals collection. Among the first titles included in British Periodicals II have been such influential Victorian periodicals as Bentley's, Temple Bar, the Fortnightly, the Athenaeum, and Blackwood's;recent additions include the Saturday Review and the Westminster Review. The Victorian titles are included in a new compendium called C19: The Nineteenth-Century Index, which includes the subject index to the Parliamentary Papers (themselves available from ProQuest as a standalone full-text collection), the Nineteenth-Century Short-Title Catalogue, the Wellesley Index, the Curran Index, and the Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism ; the DNCJ is also available in a hardcopy edition.

Non-profit initiatives, meanwhile, continue to forge ahead in this area. The Nineteenth-Century Serials Project has digitized six influential and representative periodicals -- Monthly Repository, Northern Star, Englishwoman's Review, Leader, Tomahawk, and Publishers' Circular -- in fully encoded, annotated, and complete editions (multiple editions of each title, for example, are included) that will allow extremely sophisticated kinds of searching unavailable to most mass digitization projects. This project made its debut in the spring of 2008.

Digitized volumes of many 19th-century periodicals are now available via Google Book Search.  Using these can be alternately exhilarating and exasperating: exhilarating because you can make unexpected and valuable discoveries by searching the text, exasperating because the bibliographical "metadata" for the periodical in which you've made those discoveries--especially the date of publication--is usually far from obvious.  And, too, the volumes of any given title appear in GBS in a seemingly random way.  The integration of Google Book Search links into the catalogs of participating libraries (see the Indiana University and University of Michigan catalogs, for example) is helping associate more accurate metadata with these ditigitzed volumes, but problems remain.  Nevertheless, the existence of this freely accessible and powerful tool means that Google Book Search will continue to have an important role to play in research on the Victorian periodical press.

In February, 2012, Dickens Journals Online at the University of Buckingham was completed, in time to celebrate the bicentenary of Charles Dickens's birth. This project offers free access to a searchable text of two journals famously "conducted by" Dickens: Household Words (1850-59) and All the Year Round (1859-1870). All of the OCR'd text in this edition has been manually corrected by a crew of dedicated volunteers to ensure maximum accuracy in digital searching, while of course the page-images are available for browsing, as well. This project, still adding features and soliciting feedback from users, will be a boon to all students of Dickens and of Victorian periodicals.

Victorian magazines and newspapers that have survived to the present day have often resisted licensing their old numbers to companies like ProQuest and Gale Cengage for inclusion in digital databases. A few of these, like the Scotsman (see below), have done the job themselves and charged a fee for access. The venerable Spectator, founded in 1828, whose back numbers are available by subscription in ProQuest's Periodicals Archive Online, has set an admirable example by digitizing its trove of past issues and making the whole searchable for free in a well-designed online database published in the summer of 2013 as The Spectator Archive.

All students of the period will want to follow the development of these digitization projects very closely, including those involving 19th-century newspapers. Their implications for the future of Victorian research methods -- and, more importantly, their promise for deepening our understanding of the period -- can scarcely be exaggerated.

Meanwhile, a range of free online sources for periodical study include the following:

Newspapers

Nineteenth-century newspapers are a vast terra incognita of Victorian research. Out of thousands of titles and millions of copies, many have not survived, those that have survived are not all easily available, and the prospect of creeping through the surviving wilderness of closely printed prose via unindexed volumes on microfilm has daunted many a hardy researcher. The treasures to be discovered this way, however, are innumerable, and often can be found nowhere else. The indispensable map of this territory is, again, the Waterloo Directory. The world's largest storehouse of British newspapers is the British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale in northwest London. A new online catalogue allows you to search Colindale's vast holdings--over 50,000 titles of newspapers and other periodicals, including all national and most provincial papers published in the 19th century--by title and place of publication. Yet Colindale is soon going away, its contents to be moved to storage at Boston Spa, as the British Library moves ahead with its vast newspaper digitization program.

Also online is a short Union List of 19th-c. newspapers in New York libraries. You can begin to get a feel for what manuscript materials are available by having a look through the National Register of Archives information sheet on sources for the history of the press in Britain; similarly worth consulting is David Linton and Ray Boston, editors, The newspaper press in Britain: an annotated bibliography (1987). Note that some reference material described above under the heading of periodicals applies to newspapers as well, as periodical publications, including some portions of Rosemary Van Arsdel's selected bibliography.

The archival records -- correspondence, ledgers, indices, etc. -- retained by two of today's newspapers are a marvelous and under-utilized resource for historians of the press. The Times's fabulously extensive archive of manuscript material, a major source for Victorian journalistic and political history, is available to researchers by appointment. So, too, is that of the Manchester Guardian going back to 1821. In its modern incarnation, the Guardian has established "the Newsroom" in London, a center devoted to the paper's history.

The digital revolution, part 2

The Times of London was, of course, the most powerful Victorian newspaper, and remains a treasure trove for students of the period. Palmer's Index, an idiosyncratic but indispensable key to the paper's contents, is now on both cd-rom and, by subscription, on the Web. If you are doing a lot of work with the Times it is worth looking for a major research library in your area that has a subscription to one of two major online versions of this vastly influential newspaper. Both of these are a joy to use and an incalculable saving of time and hassle over manually looking up, and trying to make copies of, Times articles on microfilm; together, they have opened up the Victorian paper of record in ways that researchers are still only beginning to explore.

The Palmer's Full Text Online from ProQuest features digitized images of the entire run of The Times from 1785 to 1870 (and the index through 1905). Although your searches cover the index rather than the text itself, you do see the whole text and can print those long columns easily on ordinary-sized paper. The other major online version is the Times Digital Archive, available from The Gale Group, which supplies a directly searchable (i.e., no reliance on Palmer's) full text of the paper, from 1785 to 1985. (For an interesting look at how such a full-text digitization process works, see this 2003 article by its creators.) Both products have their strengths and weaknesses. If you are already acquainted with the categories in Palmer's Index, for instance, you can often locate things that are hard to find in a search of full text. The Palmer's Full Text Online also allows you to save the results of your search as a PDF file of each article, a major convenience for researchers. Yet that version stops short at 1870 so far as page-views are concerned, and there are many purposes for which nothing but a full-text search will do. Moreover, the Times Digital Archive does allow one to limit such searches to particular sections of the paper (obituaries, leading articles, letters to the editor, etc.), a powerful feature. The lesson here is that if you come up empty in some areas of your searching with one of these two versions of the Times online, you may find it well worth your while to try the other one, as well, if you can gain access to it at a nearby research library.

The Scotsman was the first British newspaper after the Times of London to offer a searchable digitised version of its entire 19th-century run. In good news for independent scholars, no institutional subscription is necessary; anyone can search the entire file of the paper between 1817 to 1900 for a modest fee, payable online by credit card. The website includes a helpful short account of the newspaper's long history.  The Manchester Guardian has now followed suit with its own archive, which reaches back to 1821.

 The National Library of New Zealand and the National Library of Australia have each pushed forward with projects to digitize a wide range of 19th-century newspapers, making the results freely available to users.  The New Zealand papers currently run from the 1830s to 1920, the Australian papers from 1803 to 1954.  The Australian collection  includes a revolutionary feature allowing users to correct the results of automated OCR (optical character recognition), thereby increasing the accuracy of searching for subsequent users.  In both cases, scholars will want toseek out the "Advanced search" module.

The future of scholarly work on the contents of old newspapers is clearly in digitized editions, accessed remotely online. In 2004, JISC and the British Library announced a joint partnership to digitize entire runs of dozens of newspapers published between 1800 and 1900 to create the 19th Century British Library Newspapers collection. The project has since been joined by Gale, a leading creator and marketer of digital collections, and made its welcome debut in 2008. Although it is essential to note that the collection does not include several important papers that are still publishing -- like the Guardian and the Telegraph and the Inverness Courier--online access to entire 19th-century runs of major newspapers like the Morning Chronicle and the Daily News, as well as to provincial papers and working-class papers, in fully searchable form, promises a huge boon to researchers everywhere. Like many of the forthcoming periodical projects mentioned above, this ambitious undertaking marks a decisive change in scholars' access to -- and, ultimately, our understanding of -- the vast print culture of 19th-century Britain.  The BL's 19th-century newspaper database has been made available in libraries all over Britain through JISC, but in the U.S., access can be made through major research libraries.  See historian Martin Conboy's March 2009 review of the collection for the Institute of Historical Research.

On November 30, 2011, in a landmark development for Victorianists around the world, the British Library announced a partnership with Brightsolid to digitize a great many more newspapers (many of them provincial papers, dating from the 18th century to the early 1900s) and to make these digital facsimiles accessible by anyone on a pay-as-you-go basis as the British Newspaper Archive. With this new website, the searches are free, and then you pay for a period of time, from 48 hours to a month to a year, during which you can explore the full search results -- up to a certain capped monthly number of page-views. One feature of this new archive that I am extremely happy to see is a mode that allows users to see the underlying, uncorrected text and then submit corrections. Some of us have been pressing the big vendors for the inclusion of this feature for years and years, and I'm delighted to see that the British Library has gone in this direction. There are problems, however, with the British Newspaper Archive's individual-subscription model, which is better suited to family history queries than to the needs of academic researchers. Bob Nicholson has a very useful review of the promise and the drawbacks of this important new resource.

In May, 2010, Gale completed and put online the Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003, at last making the world's first illustrated newspaper available in searchable form. Accompanied by essays contributed by various experts on Victorian periodicals, this new database marks a major step forward for the study of the illustrated press.

 As part of an ongoing evaluation, Patrick Leary's 2005 essay "Googling the Victorians" considers some of the implications of these digitization projects (also available for download here in PDF).

Photographs and illustrations

Many pictures of Victorian people, places, and things can be obtained, for a fee, from picture libraries and agencies; the Illustrated London News Picture Library, Hulton Getty Collection, Mary Evans Picture Library, and Francis Frith Collection are particularly rich in 19th-century images. The National Portrait Gallery's picture library supplies and licenses reproductions of the gallery's portraits. This includes licensing of 72dpi image files for websites at an annual fee.

The Documentary Photography Archive in Manchester is a major repository for Victorian photographs, while the Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings at the Victorian and Albert holds some 300,000 photographs, many of them illustrating Victorian daily life. The London Metropolitan Archives (formerly the GLRO) has a large and well-indexed collection of photographs of London, as does the Guildhall Library. The Print Room of the library, a prime source for London images and the source of much of what is on COLLAGE, has now closed, and its collection moved to the London Metropolitan Archives at 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R 0HB; enquiries can be sent to ask.lma@cityoflondon.gov.uk. The City Gallery site offers a number of excellent resources created specifically for those researching 19th-century American and British photographs. Although much of its collection consists of 20th-century images, the new National Museum of Photography, Film and Television also has a great many from the 19th century, including the early Fox Talbot photographs that used to reside in the Science Museum.

The Courtauld Institute houses many thousands of photographs of artworks and buildings as part of its Witt and Conway Libraries; a similar service is provided by the National Gallery's picture library. The Images of England project of the National Monuments Record is accumulating an online library of images of 370,000 listed buildings.

Finally, a couple of resources for finding copies of paintings and drawings, especially for teaching purposes. If you're looking for a reproduction of a Victorian artwork, be sure to consult Kristine Garrigan's Victorian Art Reproductions in Modern Sources: A Bibliography (Garland, 1991). If it's been published somewhere, chances are you'll find that reproduction listed in Garrigan. Online sources include John Malyon's Artcylcopedia, which features a search engine for individual artists that directs you to any online reproductions of their works that may be available. (The estimable Phryne site is helpful for locating the originals, as well.) And a fine source for 18th- and 19th-century British engravings and paintings is the COLLAGE site from the Corporation of London, which features an image database of over 20,000 works from the Guildhall Library and Guildhall Art Gallery in London, helpfully organized by theme. You can order prints of these from the site, and there's even a special exhibition of Victorian paintings.

Bibliographies

The Victorian Bibliography has appeared since 1933. The Victorian Studies annual bibliographies since 1999 are now available in searchable electronic form , free to nonsubscribers. The annual listings for the ten years from 1975 to 1984 are compiled in Richard C. Tobias, editor, Bibliographies of Studies in Victorian Literature (New York: AMS Press, 1991). Despite its title, this work, like the current "Victorian Bibliography," includes not just literary but historical scholarship as well.

The Literary Information and Retrieval (LITIR) project at the University of Alberta has put out several cumulative bibliographies of Victorian Studies in volumes covering 1970-1984, 1985-1989, and 1990-1994. In April 1996, LITIR announced the Victorian Database on CD-ROM, whose improved and updated version now consists of entries for some 70,000 publications from 1970 to 1999, including book reviews since 1995. Available for institutional or individual purchase and updatable annually by subscription, the database is fully searchable by author, title, and keywords. An online version of the latest release is available for a one-month free trial.

An excellent, annotated bibliography by R. K. Webb of historical scholarship on Britain and Ireland since 1760 may be found in Section 24 of the 3rd edition of the American Historical Association's Guide to Historical Literature (Oxford, 1995). Similarly, the relevant sections of the Royal Historical Society bibliography (see below), though often appearing as much as two years after the year covered, often turn up specialist and regional articles and monographs of interest. Likewise, the annual MLA International Bibliography should be consulted for authors like Conrad, Shaw, Yeats, and Wells, who continued to publish major works into the 20th century.

One of the finest bibliographic reference tools for historians of Britain to come along in years is Heather Creaton's Bibliography of Printed Works on London History to 1939 (Library Association Publishing, 1994). Organized by subject and period and helpfully indexed, the book makes it easy to browse entries covering virtually any aspect of Victorian London. Beginning in January of 2003, the whole of Creaton's bibliography, along with her subsequent updates, has been made available as part of the free online RHS Bibliography of British and Irish History (about which, see more below), and can be searched separately.

Editors of Victorian and Edwardian texts must often search far and wide, online and off, to identify quotations and allusions. Longtime VICTORIA subscriber George H. Thomson has generously made the byproduct of his own annotative labors available to other scholars in the form of a bibliography of printed reference works useful in exactly this kind of editorial detective work.

Royal Historical Society bibliographies

The Royal Historical Society has for years compiled an extensive annual bibliography of books and articles relating to the history of the British Isles. The complete set of these volumes was published on cd-rom in 1998 by Oxford University Press, and a free online edition appeared in the summer of 2002 that represented a major new bibliographical resource for scholars everywhere. Alas, as of 1 January 2010, the RHS Bibliography disappeared behind a subscription wall. The RHS bibliographies are uniquely valuable in the breadth of their coverage, particularly of specialized and local British publications, and very helpfully organized and indexed.

Theses and dissertations

Equally useful resources on the IHR pages are lists of Historical Theses, Completed and in Progress at UK universities. One can access just the "modern" (i.e., post-1485) portions of the listing of completed theses by year, and scroll down to the 19th-century section, which is further subdivided by topic areas such as general, ecclesiastical, political, social, etc.:

The EThOS service from the British Library allows you to search UK theses and order copies online, many of which can be immediately downloaded as PDF files for free. An older service provides international doctoral theses through the British Library Document Supply Centre, which holds 110,000 theses from 95 countries. Many of these cannot be obtained from any other source. The theses are held at DSC as microfilm and can be supplied to the end user as microfilm, microfiche or paper copies. They are available for loan or purchase to both UK and overseas registered customers of the Document Supply Centre, while individuals and organisations not registered as BLDSC customers can purchase copies. There are some copyright restrictions which need dealing with on an individual basis as they vary from university to university. Further information may be obtained from the British Thesis Service at the DSC. Users from registered (i.e., paying) institutions can search for theses completed between 1970 and the present at "Index to Theses of Great Britain and Ireland".

In the U.S. doctoral dissertations are submitted to UMI (now owned by ProQuest), which has traditionally made them available in microfilm or paper copy. The company is shifting to electronic formats; you can now search for a dissertation through the Dissertation Express service.

Topical bibliographies

Much helpful bibliographical information may be found included with the syllabi listed under "Teaching Resources." The following are bibliographies on specific Victorian people or topics:

Book Reviews: a selection

For several years, now, academic electronic resources like the IHR's Reviews In History and the H-NET consortium of history discussion lists, as well as general interest publications like the Guardian and the Telegraph, have provided an outlet for thoughtful reviews of scholarly books. (See also Romantic Circles Reviews, which features reviews of books about the Romantics.) USC's "New Books in Nineteenth-Century Studies" did excellent excellent service by listing new books and commissioning reviews; inactive for several years, it was revived in 2007-08 only to fall silent again. The most recent and ambitious attempt to review books about the 19th-century is the NBOL-19 project out of Dartmouth, launched in the summer of 2009, which aims to review Victorian Studies books within a few months of their publication, by contrast to the current system in which an author typically waits two years or more to see his or her book reviewed in print journals.

Bravo to those review sites that continue to make their archived reviews freely available to the public at stable addresses, at a time when an increasing number of publications whose reviews were once linked to from this section -- like the Sunday Times, the New York Review of Books, and History Today -- have since determined that older articles should be accessible only on payment of a fee. This part of VRW is no longer being updated. Nevertheless, here are links to a small selection of reviews of books of 19th-century interest that have appeared in the past few years. Apologies in advance for any dead links -- many newspaper sites discard links to their articles at unpredictable intervals, while many journals have moved their past reviews behind subscription walls, making it difficult to keep this section properly weeded.