Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays -- Research Guide


The Collection

BroadsideBroadsides are single-sheet publications, often issued as ephemera or announcements. The Harris Broadsides Collection is a comprehensive collection of American poetry published in broadside format from colonial times to the present. It off ers materials covering a broad spectrum of American life. Poetry of every description includes 18th and 19th century ephemeral verse describing newsworthy events, poetic effusions of sentimentality and patriotism, and contemporary limited editions, handsomely printed and illustrated. From the 20th century "Beat" and "Concrete" poetry can be found, as well as examples of the works of black poets from the Harlem Renaissance to the present. Among the poets represented in the Collection ar e Amiri Baraka, Robert Creeley, Paul Laurence Dunbar, William Everson, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsburg, Langston Hughes, Robinson Jeffers, Galway Kinnell, Robert Penn Warren, and Walt Whitman. Women's poetry in sizeable numbers illustrate the work of Gwendol yn Brooks, Emily Dickinson, Joyce Carol Oates, Adrienne Rich, Lydia Sigourney, Diane Wakoski, and others.

Within the Collection are several noteworthy components:

  • Carriers' Addresses. Single-sheet poems published by newspapers and distributed by the carrier or newsboy on New Year's Day, a custom lasting from 1720 until the early 20th century. The poems, often anonymous, describe the events of t he year, locally, regionally, and nationally, and request a gratuity for the faithful carrier. Illustrated with wood-engravings and decorative borders, they are unique historically and typographically. Carriers' Addresses issued as small pamphlets are al so included in the Harris Collection. See also the web exhibition Carriers Addresses in Nineteenth-Century America.

  • Slip Ballads. Also called song sheets, these were issued in profusion from 1830 through 1870. The single, often illustrated sheets, contain lyrics intended to be sung to familiar tunes. Very popular during the Civil War, the slip ball ads illustrate the popular response to political, military, social, and economic events.
  • Rewards of Merit. Small, illustrated certificates given to deserving school children in the 1800's. They are interesting for the insights they provide into educational methods and attitudes of the time.

  • Fine Printing. Included in the Collection are many items illustrative of fine printing and graphics, such as specimen leaves, invitations, and announcements issued by private presses booksellers, and book clubs. The contemporary sma ll press and artists' book communities are particularly well represented.

See Also:
» Fine Printing

» Top of the page

Related Collections

In addition to the American poetry collections, the general Broadsides Collection includes a wealth of material on historical topics and general fine printing, posters, and bookplates. In the Rider Collection are broadsides dealing with Rhode Island history and culture; this collection includes are advertisements, programs, tickets, playbills, posters, labels, lottery tickets, and cartoons. A large segment pertains to the unsuccessful Dorr Rebellion of 1842.

McLellan Lincoln Collection broadsides contains a variety of material from 1848 to the present, illustrating many phases of Abraham Lincoln's career. Political announcements, campaign literature, newspaper extras, proclamations, and ephemera of every description abound.

The Poster Collection contains over 800 items, focusing mainly on American war posters from World War I and II. Other collections include some labor posters, book-related items, and theatrical posters, and posters designed to be displayed on buses.

The fine printing and graphic arts broadsides holdings, particularly in the Koopman Collection, are extensive. There are quantities of scenic postcards and greeting cards, notably including Chrismas cards and valentines. The Print Collection includes fine examples of illustrations by John DePol, Edward Gorey, and others.

The Sonia Lustig Bookplate Collection includes over 5,500 bookplates of interest for the study of heraldry, symbolism, and design, as well as bibliophilia.

The John Carter Brown Library also has a sizeable collection of 18th century broadsides complementing its specialty, the discovery and exploration of the Americas through 1825.

» Top of the page

Related Internet Resources

Brown University Library Resources: Digital Projects

Brown University Library Resources: Subject Collections

Other Internet Resources

» Top of the page

Essential References

Blanck, Jacob
Bibliography of American Literature / compiled by Jacob Blanck for the Bibliographical Society of America
New Haven : Yale University Press, 1955-1991.
» See also the Online Edition

Brown University Library.
Catalog of broadsides of American verse in the Harris Collection of American poetry.
Providence, R. I. and Boston, Mass. : G. K. Hall, 1986.

Bumgardner, Georgia B.
American broadsides; sixty facsimilies dated 1680-1800, reproduced from originals in the American Antiquarian Society. Selected & introduced by Georgia B. Bumgardner.
Barre, Mass., Imprint Society, 1971.

DeSimone, Russell J.
Broadsides of the Dorr Rebellion : a bibliographical checklist compiled by Russell J. DeSimone and Daniel C. Schofield ; with an introduction by Patrick T. Conley.
Providence, R.I. : Rhode Island Supreme Court Historical Society, 1992.

Early Vermont broadsides / John Duffy, editor ; introd. by Mason I. Lowance, Jr.
Hanover, N.H. : Published for the University of Vermont by the University Press of New England, 1975.

Felcone, Joseph J.
New Jersey broadsides before 1900 : a checklist of the Joseph J. Felcone collection.
Princeton, N.J. : J.J. Felcone, 1991.

Ford, Worthington Chauncey.
Broadsides, ballads, &c. printed in Massachusetts 1639-1800.
[Boston] The Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Ford, Worthington Chauncey, 1858-1941,

Harvard University. Library.
Catalogue of English and American chapbooks and broadside ballads in Harvard College Library. Compiled by Charles Welsh and William H. Tillinghast.
Detroit, Singing Tree Press, 1968.

Hummel, Ray Orvin, ed.
Southeastern broadsides before 1877; a bibliography.
Richmond, Virginia State Library, 1971.

Jantz, Harold Stein
Unrecorded verse broadsides of seventeenth-century New England.
[New York] The Bibliographical Society of America, c1945.

The Judgment of experts : essays and documents about the forgery of the Oath of a freeman / edited by James Gilreath.
Worcester : American Antiquarian Society, 1991.

Laws, George Malcolm.
American balladry from British broadsides; a guide for students and collectors of traditional song.
Philadelphia, American Folklore Society, 1957.

Library Company of Philadelphia.
American song sheets, slip ballads, and poetical broadsides, 1850-1870; a catalogue of the collection of the Library Company of Philadelphia by Edwin Wolf 2nd. Philadelphia, 1963.
New York, Kraus Reprint Corp., 1963.

Library of Congress. Rare Book Division
Catalog of broadsides in the Rare Book Division.
Boston, G. K. Hall 1972.

McCorison, Marcus A.
Vermont imprints, 1778-1820; a check list of books, pamphlets, and broadsides.
Worcester [Mass.] American Antiquarian Society, 1963.

McDonald, Gerald D. (Gerald Doan).
A checklist of American newspaper carrier's addresses, 1720-1820 / by Gerald D. McDonald, Stuart C. Sherman, and Mary T. Russo
Worcester, MA : American Antiquarian Society, 2000

Moebs, Thomas Truxtun.
U.S. reference-iana, 1481-1899 : a concise guide to over 4000 books and articles for researching art, books, broadsides, ephemera, manuscripts, newspapers, maps, pamphlets, photographs, and prints relating to that area within the present limits of the Uni ted States, 1481-1899. Specifically compiled for Americana collectors, booksellers and librarians.
Williamsburg, Va : Moebs Pub. Co., 1989.

Morris, Henry
Broadside vignettes : the poster/broadside format joined with the book.
Newtown, Pa. : Bird & Bull Press, 1997.

Moss, William
Confederate broadside poems : an annotated descriptive bibliography based on the collection of the Z. Smith Reynolds Library of Wake Forest University.
Westport, CT : Meckler, c1988.

Rhode Island imprints : a list of books, pamphlets, newspapers and broadsides printed at Newport, Providence, Warren, Rhode Island between 1727 and 1800.
Providence : Printed for the Society [Rhode Island Historical Society], 1915.

Rudolph, Earle Leighton
Confederate broadside verse; a bibliography and finding list of Confederate broadside ballads and songs.
New Braunfels, Texas, Book Farm, 1950.

Stoddard, Roger E.
American bibliographical notes : fifth addenda to Wegelin's Early American poetry.
Worcester [Mass.] : American Antiquarian Society, c1990.

Stoddard, Roger E.
A catalogue of books and pamphlets unrecorded in Oscar Wegelin's Early American poetry, 1650-1820.
Providence, R.I., Friends of the Library of Brown University, 1969.

Stoddard, Roger E.
Further addenda to Wegelin's Early American poetry.
[New York? 1971?]

Stoddard, Roger E.
Further corrigenda and addenda to Hill's American plays printed 1714-1830.
[New York : Bibliographical Society of America, 1983]

Stoddard, Roger E.
Progress note on a bibliography of American poetry printed 1610-1820 and some corrigenda to Wegelin's Early American poetry.
[Amherst, Mass. : Early American Literature, 1979?]

Sullivan, James D.
On the walls and in the streets : American poetry broadsides from the 1960s.
Urbana : University of Illinois Press, c1997.

Taylor, W. Thomas.
Texfake : an account of the theft and forgery of early Texas printed documents / by W. Thomas Taylor ; with an introduction by Larry McMurtry.
Austin : W.T. Taylor, 1991.

Wegelin, Oscar
Early American poetry : a compilation of the titles of volumes of verse and broadsides by writers born or residing in North America north of the Mexican border .
2nd ed., rev. and enl.
Gloucester, Mass. : P. Smith, 1965, c1930.

Winship, George Parker.
Brown university broadsides.
Providence, 1913.

Winslow, Ola Elizabeth. comp.
American broadside verse from imprints of the 17th and 18th centuries, selected and edited, with an introductory note, by Ola Elizabeth Winslow
New Haven, Conn., Yale University Press; London, H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1930.

» Top of the page