Early American Imprints

With the acquisition of the Michael Zinman Collection of early American imprints in 2000, the Library Company now owns the second-largest collection of items printed in this country before 1801, when considered along with the holdings of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, whose collection we house. Totaling some 17,500 titles, they include popular works of the high and the low. Bibles, almanacs, sermons, political pamphlets, advice books, novels, and children’s primers were reprinted over time and read widely. They were the standard texts of early America. Other printed works, such as ballads, joke books, songsters, dream books, true crime accounts, and even pornography, comprised another kind of early American printing. It recorded and transmitted the cultural preoccupations of the general populace, from the bottom up. The North American Imprints Project (NAIP), a database listing all of these works (except for newspapers and periodicals), provides various access points to the collection, including genre, subject, and Evans number and can be searched on site. Available electronically, Digital Evans allows full text searching of most early-American imprints in the Charles Evans bibliography.


Roger P. Bristol. Supplement to Charles Evans’ American Bibliography (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1970).

Charles Evans. American Bibliography. A Chronological Dicitonary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from the Genesis of Printing in 1639 Down to and Including the Year [1800] (Chicago: The Blakely Press for the Author, 1943-1955). 13 vols.

Digital Evans. Electronic database available through Readex. http://infoweb.newsbank.com

The North American Imprints Project (NAIP) database, available on-line at participating institutions, including in the Reading Room of the Library Company.

Clifford K. Shipton and James E. Mooney. National Index of American Imprints Through 1800. The Short-Title Evans (Worcester, Mass.: The American Antiquarian Society and Barre Publishers, 1969). 2 vols.