The Newberry‘s project to catalog four of its collections of French pamphlets of great significance to scholarship officially came to a close at the end of July 2013. Over the past few months, as we have gathered information to write our final reports and project documentation, we have been able to reflect on the successes and challenges of this project.
In the end, we cataloged 27,125 pamphlets across six collections–5,125 more than originally projected. Because productivity was higher than expected, we added two additional collections to the original four: the Howard Mayer Brown Libretto Collection and a collection of Dutch political pamphlets. The Brown Libretto Collection includes many important and rare music texts published primarily in French and Italian, and the collection of Dutch pamphlets includes many primary sources on early modern European history, including pamphlets on the French Revolution from a Dutch perspective.
Scholarly use of the pamphlets has soared since the cataloging project began. There has been an eightfold increase in the number of Newberry fellowship applicants interested in using the pamphlet collections for their research projects. Cataloging project staff have met regularly with incoming fellows and visiting researchers to orient them to the collection and share strategies for searching for the items in the Newberry’s online catalog. We have updated online research guides for the French pamphlet collections and the Brown Libretto Collection to reflect the ease with which scholars, students, teachers, and other users can now locate pamphlets of interest using the online catalog.
The Newberry remains committed to connecting scholars to the pamphlets cataloged during this project. The Library’s Center for Renaissance Studies will host a Research Methods Workshop for Early Career Graduate Students in January 2014, French Pamphlets at the Newberry: The Formation of the Concept of “Revolution” and Revolutionary Ideology, led by Dale Van Kley of The Ohio State University. The Newberry is also a partner institution of the NEH-funded French Pamphlet Planning Project: An International Collaboration for Improvement of Collection Access, which aims to survey and provide preliminary access to important collections of French pamphlets and to develop a strategic plan for the creation of a French Pamphlet Digital Portal.