Document Type


Passed with distinction


Publication Date

Spring 4-17-2015


Through databases like the Incunabula Short Title Catalog, English Short Title Catalog (ESTC), and the new Universal Short Title Catalog, documenting the location of early printed texts has achieved an international scale. This increased documentation enables early modern studies scholars to incorporate more analytical bibliography into their research. The ability to globally track a text’s distribution or compare copy specific features lends itself to new perspectives on readership and the print trade. While the short title catalogs and digital facsimiles facilitate this comparative work, often catalog records only reflect holding information and lack crucial provenance background and physical descriptions. At the University of Iowa, we have seized the opportunity to update our local catalog with provenance and binding notes as we register our early printed books with the ESTC. By not only updating our holdings with the ESTC, but also recording copy specific notes, this project aims to provide a better resource for material studies scholars and our Iowa faculty who incorporate special collections materials into their courses. This project specifically focuses on further documenting features in sixteenth-century English printed books, as this collection sees the highest volume of use in our special collections class visits. The Material Evidence in Incunabula database search fields provide a guideline and controlled vocabulary for what provenance and binding features to add to our records. These enhanced records further the study of print culture by enabling scholars to understand the physicality of the book without digital facsimiles.


libraries, catalog, bibliography, provenance, binding, bookhistory, 16th century, early modern


This poster will also be presented at the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP) on July 8, 2015.


Copyright © 2015 Jillian Sparks.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.