A. The Scope of this Series

B.  The Importance of 19th Century English Newspapers and Periodicals

C. Newspapers and Periodicals Compared to Books

D. The Value of the Online Edition Compared to Printed Volumes

E.  How this Directory was Compiled

F.  Advantages of Publishing this Reference Work in Series

G. The Schedule for Series 2-5

H. The History of the Directory


A. The Scope of this Series

      Here is the first series of a five-series set comprising the Waterloo Directory of English Periodicals and Newspapers, 1800-1900. This first series lists 27,561 titles, of which 5,179 are `family members' through a merger with or restructuring of some other publication. In other words, this series provides 22,382 records of individual and `family' publications. By the completion of the five-series set, some 125,000 titles are expected to be identified, located and described. All subject areas are covered, although each one of the series attempts to provide a comprehensive listing of from seven to ten additional subjects, while including many thousands of titles not on those specialty lists.

      The subjects dealt with most completely herein are:

  • Art & Architecture 800 titles
  • Children 800
  • Feminism 83
  • Music 350
  • Theatre 650
  • Wit & Humour 625
  • Women 515

      Of this total of 3823 publications, the editor has located about 80%, and read some half dozen issues of each. The remaining entries represent newspapers and periodicals in miscellaneous other subjects, including newspapers, annuals, and other generalist publications, so that some 8,000 titles have been read in total.

      Many of the entries or 'records' herein are for titles which have not been 'shelf-checked'. Hence this information is unreliable, having been gleaned from a great variety of sources, many not intended to serve the bibliographer. It is included for the convenience of readers, who might find this very limited material better than nothing in a field where so much is yet to be accomplished. As this project moves forward such limitations ought to be softened.

      For the purposes of this project a periodical is defined to be any publication which at its inception was intended to be published at regular intervals for an indefinite period of time, at least annually and as often as once or more times daily. In general this definition excludes serial publications such as multi-part novels and election puff-sheets. It also excludes most government publications and trade or company reports, but includes transportation schedules, almanacs and town directories.

      Also included are titles in any language, published during any part of their life-span in England between January 1, 1800 and December 31, 1900. So a periodical might appear in this list even if most of its issues were published before 1800 or after 1900, or if most issues were published in some other country.

B. The Importance of 19th Century Newspapers and Periodicals

      The work of the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, with its various international branches, since its inception in 1968, has provided ample evidence of the range and depth of impact of newspapers and periodicals in Victorian Britain. Readers are directed to the quarterly Victorian Periodicals Review for reviews of the many hundreds of books and articles in this field over recent years.

      Many, probably most, of the eminent poets, novelists, and essayists were first and primarily known through the periodicals. The newly literate classes found their reading material in this medium, lacking the radio, telephone, television and paper-back book media which so dominate our own age. So the periodicals, whether religious, political, class, business, professional or scholarly, were a primary source of entertainment, instruction, information, news, and a notable means of social bonding.

      We tend to think of periodicals and newspapers as less important than printed books: `cheap', so disposable; not `standard' in size, so not book-shelf material; less carefully and seriously produced, so less to be heeded; not written primarily by scholars, thinkers, the important folk in our society. Yet these responses are little more than unwarranted prejudice. We ourselves probably read more periodicals and newspapers than we do printed books, whether for casual information about our current world, or for the most essential details of our trade or profession or of the organisations in which we participate.

      This Directory begins to provide a bibliographical resource which will enable a fresh, more thorough and perhaps a more mature assessment of Victorian England. Without such access to the entire body of nineteenth century newspapers and periodicals we will be limited to that relatively tiny number of publications previously known to scholars. We would be imprudent to assume that the periodicals already known to us were the most important at the time. With the statistical and bibliographical evidence of this Directory before us, especially as it grows to the completion of all five series, we will be better able to answer the questions "Important to whom?" and "Important by what criteria?" Scholarly tastes of the 1990's are likely to be dismissed as offhandedly in the next generation as we treat much of the scholarship of the nineteen fifties.

C. Newspapers and Periodicals Compared to Books

      Evidence suggests that newspapers and periodicals were more than tenfold as numerous and important as books in every subject, from the most popular to the most esoteric. Peddie's English Catalogue of Books lists the following number of titles (in round figures):

1800-1835 25,000
1835-1862 64,000
1863-1871 28,000
1872-1880 60,000
1881-1889 75,000
1890-1897 60,000
1898-1900 22,000

Total: 334,000

      This is about 2.7 times the number of titles of periodicals and newspapers, which the editor of this reference work estimates at 125,000. Keeping in mind that the majority of these books were single-edition, and often with a much smaller print-run than the majority of newspapers and periodicals, it becomes evident that in statistical terms at least, newspapers and periodicals were more significant. Many of the newspapers ran daily or several times weekly for many years. So it is probable that nineteenth century newspapers alone far outnumber books. Other periodicals ran weekly, monthly or quarterly for years, even decades. Furthermore, the periodical press was perhaps more likely to glean multiple readers per issue. Is it possible that, less expensive and less daunting, the periodicals were read more thoroughly and passed on more freely? and in every field?

D. The Value of the Online Edition Compared to Printed Volumes

      This first series of the publication was first available in a CD-ROM edition (1994), then in a cloth-bound paper edition consisting of ten volumes with about 1,000 pages per volume (1998). The current online edition has been available since July 2001. The completed five-series set is expected to consist of 50 volumes, with an incremental 25,000 titles in each series for a grand total of 125,000. In both the online and the paper editions, each subsequent series will be merged alphabetically with the entries from the previous series, making the previous obsolete. This plan of a multi-series cumulative publication has seemed beneficial on several counts, as explained in Section F below.

      The search facility of this electronic format is its chief strength. The five indexes, by Title, Place of Publication, Issuing Body, People and Subject, give much more rapid access than possible in print. But it is in the combination of search criteria, which is to say the elaborate tailoring of a search request to fit a researcher's most detailed inquiries, that the value of the search facility is most dramatic. For instance, one might ask for all publications in one subject area and one geographical area, within any time frame: all theatre journals in Liverpool during the 1860's, let us say. Or all children's periodicals published during the same year as Alice in Wonderland.

      The Specific Field Search and Global Search options allow readers to find titles or issuing bodies or names when they are not certain of the data they require. For instance, one might remember that a certain title contained the word Newcastle or or Farm, which would be sufficient to find it using the Specific Field Search. Similarly, the Global Search option looks through most of the database for any one word or combination of words: NOT searched are the Locations, Price, Size, Indexes, Vol/Date, Circulation fields.

      Elaborate searches such as these might take from several seconds up to one minute. In the printed volumes they would be impossible.

      Searches can also be refined, or completed in stages: first all the Women's journals, then all of those in the 1880's, then all of those in Essex, for instance. The Search History page, accessible by a button on each of the Index pages, records results of all searches for each session, and enables the results to be reviewed and printed. Moreover, the Search History button on the Search Results page records history of each session.

      Readers may print the results of each search either at the moment, or at the end of the session (from the Search History page).

E. How This Directory was Compiled

      The editor's intention has been to gather information from the issues of each journal as well as from all available secondary sources in order to provide up to twenty six fields of information per title, and ultimately to obtain a photofacsimile title page for each entry. About six issues have been perused for each of some 8,000 titles, in British Libraries. We have been able to provide 5,000 title pages.

      In practical terms, more bibliographical information is to be found about most titles within the secondary sources than within the issues of the periodical itself. This fact is explained by the very fluid nature of a periodical: most issues vary from each other in several key bibliographical identifiers: frequency, price, size, staff, departments, and so on, as listed in the following section entitled A Description of the Entry Records. Moreover many bibliographical details, such as the proprietor, publisher, circulation, indexing and the publishing history, are rarely available within the pages of a periodical. So a good history of any one periodical may be much richer than any half dozen or so issues could ever be.

      In preparing this first series the editor and his staff have read more than 2500 secondary sources: catalogues, magazine articles, books, indexes, encyclopedia entries, sale records, advertisements, prospectuses, notes and queries, biographies, stamp returns. Often this material presents anomalies difficult to resolve--ones which can only be passed on to the reader who might find in them clues which the editor does not recognize.

F. Advantages of Serial Publication of this Reference Work

      First, publication in a cumulative series enables ongoing updating of each title record. Especially in the case of periodicals, where often several libraries must be visited before a complete run can be identified, this updating is likely to carry on for some time. And as other scholars complete work over the life of this project, the benefits of their research can be incorporated in this Directory.

      Second, series publication in which each new series replaces the previous enables both the updating of previous title records and the interspersing of new title records throughout the alphabetical listing. In other words each new series provides an entire A-Z alphabetical listing until thtotal of 125,000 records is achieved. Although online format is more suitable for production and distribution and use of the Directory than is the printed volume format, even the inevitable waste of 100 outdated volumes (Series 1 [10] + Series 2 [20] + Series 3 [30] + Series 4 [40] = 100) in order to arrive at the final fifty volumes of printed works is a minimal price to pay for the great advantages of series publication. As powerful as the online search engine is, printed books have an impact which the more elusive electronic format can not hope to reproduce. Moreover, books are less susceptible to technological obsolescence.

      Third, series publication puts early results of a very large project into the hands of readers who might wish to suggest emendations and changes of various sorts for later parts of the series. Should the project be interrupted, at least some of the editor's work will have been made available to scholars interested in nineteenth century England.

      Fourth, libraries are able to purchase so inevitably expensive a research tool in relatively small increments. Those who purchase the first series and wish also the second, can purchase the enlarged second for only the incremental price. On the other hand, those who do not purchase the first, must pay the cost of both first and second when purchasing the second, and so on.

      Fifth, as the research for this reference tool proceeds not only by subject but also by geographical region, it is convenient to cover one more region as well as one more set of subjects in each of the series. Although London is the place of publication for the majority of nineteenth century newspapers and periodicals, and for that reason is the research center for each of the series, yet many titles can be found in only one library in a remote part of the country. Every geographical region of the country must be covered because virtually every library contains a number of uniquely- held titles, as well as assorted issues of well-known titles for which no library holds a complete run.

      Inexpensive to buy, difficult for librarians to catalogue and store, and notoriously current (so supposedly more quickly outdated than books), newspapers and periodicals have often been treated as ephemeral by historians and curators as well as bibliographers. Until now we have had much less access to them than to books.

      Now The Waterloo Directory Series provides much greater access to them than scholars currently have to the titles listed in Peddie's English Catalogue of Books: access by means of customized electronic search routines providing groupings of titles by date or people or place or subject or issuing body, access by way of photofacsimile title pages, access by any combination of the 26 fields of data per title, access by bibliographical description of each title, including library holdings. In other words, this reference work, at least by the completion of the five-series, fifty-volume set, will provide a more powerful and detailed bibliographical tool than is yet available for printed books.

G. The Schedule for Series 2-5

      Here is a tentative list of subjects for each of the following series. The editor likes to imagine that each series can be completed in a year, now that the methodology and software search-engine have been developed. Undoubtedly this projection will be altered by the advice of scholars and further experience in the field.

Series 2 (all of Series 1 plus)
  • Agriculture
  • Amusements
  • Anti-slavery
  • Business
  • Fiction
  • Genealogy
  • Labour
  • Medicine
  • Temperance
Series 3 (all of Series 1 and 2, plus)
  • Almanacs/ Calendars/ Yearbooks
  • Directories
  • Education
  • Home Economics
  • Industry
  • Law
  • Poetry
  • Radical Press
  • Religion
  • Science
Series 4 (all of Series 1, 2 and 3, plus)
  • Biography
  • Freemasonry
  • Handbooks Geography
  • History
  • Language and Languages
  • Societies
Series 5 (all of Series 1, 2, 3 and 4, plus)
  • Addresses, Lectures, Speeches
  • Books
  • Catalogues
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Folklore
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Sports
  • Transportation
  • Welfare

H. The History of the Waterloo Directories of United Kingdom and Ireland Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900

      In 1976 appeared The Waterloo Directory of Victorian Periodicals, 1824-1900. This volume of 1,187 pages contains 28,995 brief entries gathered from a number of secondary sources, chiefly Times’ Tercentenary Handlist of English and Welsh Newspapers, the British Union Catalogue of Periodicals, the British Library Catalogue, Mitchell’s Newspaper Press Directory and the Union List of Serials (USA & Canada). At the time it was a breakthrough, for it demonstrated that at least 29,000 periodicals and newspapers had been published, in contrast to other estimates of the time, which were 13,000. The most accurate predictor turned out to be W.E.F. Fredeman, of the University of British Columbia, at 60,000. Professor Fredeman trained this editor in bibliographical method.

      In 1986 The Waterloo Directory of Irish Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900, was published. Its 838 pages list 3,972 Irish titles, and includes indexes of people, places, issuing bodies and subjects. Work on the project was completed during a year as Senior Visiting Research Professor at Queen’s University, Belfast, with additional financial help from the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

      In 1989 The Waterloo Directory of Scottish Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900, was published in two volumes, the result of visiting more than eighty Scottish libraries. Over 2,200 it lists and indexes 7,320 titles, providing title pages for many.

      The first electronic version was the Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900, Series 1, on CD-ROM in 1994. It listed 25,000 titles, with the convenience of electronic searching. A print edition in ten volumes was published in 1998. The current online edition, appearing in 2001, is a much updated version of the CD-ROM and print editions.

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