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A Scholar's Guide
to the Folger
• Before You Arrive

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Online Resources

In order to maximize your study of rare materials at the Folger, we strongly recommend that you begin your research before you leave, taking full advantage of the Folger's online image database, Luna Insight, as well as our online catalogue, Hamnet.


The following strategies for navigating Hamnet will get you started. These come courtesy of Head of Reference Georgianna Ziegler.


Rare Book Searching in Hamnet: (http://shakespeare.folger.edu)


The Folger online catalog offers searching over many fields to enable you to perform much more specific searches than most library catalogs allow.  This detailed function is especially useful for finding rare materials.  It enables searches such as the following:

- early books printed in France with engravings

- books containing booksellers’ advertisements

- books with hands drawn in

- early English quarto volumes – and much more


What’s in a Name?


By searching a name, you can find out what people have written or translated, what books they have owned or inscribed, and even what books they received.


Using Advanced Search


Hint: always set Limits first before doing search.


Finding Books by Size


You can find quarto (4to), octavo (8vo), duodecimo (12mo) and sextodecimo (16mo) sized books by searching under Size in Advanced Search.  It is best to set Limits first, by date, or place of printing, or language, or a combination of these. 


Finding Books with Interesting Attributes


Using Genre Terms

Genre Terms are used by catalogers to point out interesting physical aspects of books such as the following:

- Annotations

- Booksellers advertisements

- Made-up copies (An imperfect book that has pages added to it from one or more other copies of the same book to make it perfect.)

- Manuscript waste or Printed Waste (waste paper used by binders)

- Prices


Using Folger Copy Notes

Not every aspect of a book is picked up by genre terms.  Many copies of books in the Folger collections have interesting marks or information about former owners that are mentioned by catalogers in the Folger copy notes.


You can search in the notes for all sorts of information, including the following:

- fists (pointy hands) – What Bill Sherman calls “manicules”

- “hidden names”: e.g. books owned by women

- armorial bindings

- marbled paper (in binding)

- bookplates

- dedications (search word “dedication” under All Notes)


Hamnet's help page is also very useful when troubleshooting search terms or seeking answers to frequently asked questions.




After conducting your own initial searches, if you still have questions about the library's holdings or procedures, you may want to contact the library's Professional Staff:


Erin Blake, Curator of Art and Special Collections

Heather Wolfe, Curator of Manuscripts

Goran Proot, Curator of Rare Books

Georgianna Ziegler, Head of Reference

Betsy Walsh, Head of Reader Services

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