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The Nineteenth Century
The Nineteenth Century is a thirty-year publishing programme based at the British Library which reproduces on microfiche a significant proportion of English-language works first published between 1801 and 1900. C19: The Nineteenth Century Index makes the growing collection of catalogue records produced as part of this project cross-searchable with other key bibliographic resources for nineteenth-century studies.
The British Library holds a vast range of material to which scholars and researchers elsewhere do not have easy access, and it is this material that the project aims to cover. The serious deterioration of the book in the world's research libraries mainly occurs in works published after the introduction of wood pulp paper in 1845. The Nineteenth Century is the first major long-term publishing programme to reproduce these works, bringing together the interests of the librarian, the scholar and the Preservation Department of the largest collection of books in the world.
The Nineteenth Century was launched in 1986 and microfilming began in 1987. In January 1998 the programme celebrated its tenth anniversary in the newly opened British Library at St Pancras. Now containing more than 28,000 separate titles, The Nineteenth Century is the single largest and most important source of nineteenth century works for research and for teaching almost all aspects of nineteenth century studies.
The process of editorial selection made necessary by the sheer volume of nineteenth-century production is carried out by qualified editorial staff following carefully formulated principles. These are clearly specified in The Nineteenth Century: A Microfiche Library of Historical Sources in English for the Study of the Period 1801-1900: Subject Scope and Principles of Selection of the General Collection by R. C. Alston (Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1986).
The Nineteenth Century comprises:
- The General Collection - containing over 16,000 texts for research in every area of human life and ideas
- Women Writers - a collection of works of imaginative literature that will eventually include about 4,500 authors, many never before identified or studied
- Art and Architecture - more than 2,400 printed sources filmed at the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum, The British Library and the Bodleian Library
- Books on Economics - approximately 1,000 texts on economic history focusing on the second half of the century
- Children's Literature - a collection of 2,369 nineteenth-century books for children.
- Books on British Colonization - over 600 texts documenting the impact of British colonization around the world
- Books on Ireland - over 300 texts, mainly pamphlets, on all facets of Irish political and social life
- Books on China - more than 700 works on the history and culture of China selected from Henri Cordier's Biblioteca Sinica
- Books on Linguistics - over 1,200 texts for the historical study of language
- Books on Publishing and the Diffusion of Knowledge - almost 800 texts for the study of printing, publishing and bookselling
- Books on Evolution and Creation - over 300 essential books and pamphlets on the 'Darwinian revolution' and controversies that surrounded it.
Catalogue records created to accompany The Nineteenth Century are produced with reference to the printed source described and are unusually detailed for a project of this scale. The title, imprint and colophon are transcribed in full and there is an exact breakdown of the pagination. Serial numbers direct the reader to the correct microfiche. Note fields help the textual editor by, wherever possible, attributing pseudonymous works and pointing out features such as errata, irregular pagination, and varying colophons. Features unique to the copy being microfilmed are noted such as imperfections to the book, or the existence of bookplates, stickers and stamps or manuscript inscriptions.
As part of C19: The Nineteenth Century Index, theses catalogue records combine with more than 1.3 million records in the Nineteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue (NSTC) to provide exhaustive coverage of nineteenth-century monographs and other books. Results from The Nineteenth Century and NSTC are displayed in the 'Books' section on the Search Results display.