The Nineteenth Century is the result of a thirty-year project to reproduce on microfiche a significant proportion of English-language works first published between 1801-1900. The programme was situated at the British Library and it is the holdings of this great library that form its basis.
The 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 Nineteenth Century 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. This is the first major long-term publishing programme to reproduce such works that so urgently need to be preserved; it brings together the interests of the librarian, the scholar and the Preservation Department of the single largest collection of books in the world.
The Nineteenth Century was launched in 1986 and microfilming began in 1987. Now consisting of 36,776 titles, the programme was completed in 2021 when the last of the brief catalogue records for discovering these works were loaded at this site. This vast collection is an essential source of nineteenth century works for research and for teaching almost all aspects of nineteenth century studies.
What sets The Nineteenth Century apart from other research collections is that every title has been hand-picked by qualified editorial staff (working according to principles devised by Robin Alston, one of the most eminent specialists in this field) with the sole objective of building a collection that fully supports current teaching and research.
The process of editorial selection made necessary by the sheer volume of nineteenth-century production is carried out following carefully formulated principles. These are clearly specified in Subject Scope and Principles of Selection by R. C. Alston which is available free of charge on request.
MARC AACR2 catalogue records are also available. Please enquire. They are created directly from the book 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 (and also to a microfilm copy held by the British Library). 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. The MARC records may also be accessed online via the British Library's Register of Preservation Surrogates (formerly the Register of Preservation Microforms).
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