Introduction to the Catalog  Guidance for Searching  XML Encoding  Acknowledgments  Collections  Works Cited



The Online Catalog of Books and Documents
Owned, Borrowed and Consulted by Herman Melville

In the Herman Melville Collection of Harvard University’s Houghton Library, a curious volume bears subtle testimony to the prominent role of books in the author’s life and not so subtle testimony to the challenges of documenting his reading. The verso of the front free endpaper displays the pencil inscriptions, “Catalogue of Library” and “H. M.” (see Figure 1). Beneath the inscriptions, Eleanor Melville Metcalf, granddaughter of Herman Melville and donor of the volume to Houghton, has written: “The above is not Herman Melville’s writing. Someone must have given him this to catalogue his books, but he evidently never used it—which is not surprising.” Whether or not the writing is Melville’s, these instructions to the binder, hooked to specify separate labels, were followed exactly, and the now-detached spine of the volume carries two labels stamped in gilt: “Catalogue of Library” and “H. M.” But it is indeed clear that Melville never used the volume—an off-the-shelf blank book bound in reversed sheep, with red skiver bands, marbled endpapers, marbled edges, and a cut-through index—for its intended purpose. The blank pages following the binding inscriptions record not a single title from Melville’s library, which numbered some 1,000 volumes at the time of his death in 1891, after which it was dispersed among friends and family members and among second-hand book sellers in New York City and Brooklyn.

From youth onward Melville educated himself through self-propelled reading after the bankruptcy and death of his father, Allan Melvill, Sr. (the final e was added by the family soon after he died), put formal education forever out of reach. The personal library assembled by Herman Melville over the course of his life served as the means and impetus for his phenomenal literary achievements, and the book-image was an emblem of sorts for his signature themes of disinheritance and intellectual longing. The elder Melvill was himself forced to auction part of his own library during his precipitous financial decline, as his son would recall two decades later with the miraculous recovery of one of its volumes (see Figure 2, and Sealts No. 103), and in his fourth book Redburn (1849) Melville reacted to the first signs of failure in his own professional career with the main character’s pledge to preserve one of the last remnants of his deceased father’s library:

Dear book! I will sell my Shakespeare, and even sacrifice my old quarto Hogarth, before I will part with you. Yes, I will go to the hammer myself, ere I send you to be knocked down in the auctioneer's shambles. I will, my beloved,—old family relic that you are;—till you drop leaf from leaf, and letter from letter, you shall have a snug shelf somewhere, though I have no bench for myself. (NN Redburn 143)

With the posthumous dispersal of his library in the 1890s (when newspaper obituaries commented that he had long been assumed dead), Melville’s complex relationship to the book—as source of knowledge, as vehicle for literary expression, and as image of vanished prestige and lingering self-worth—reached fitting closure. Like larger blanks in the documentary record of his life that have resulted from decades of contemporary and posthumous neglect, the blank catalogue of Herman Melville’s library captures the poignant juxtaposition of aspiring intellect and contemporary failure so thoroughly bound up with his status among America’s greatest writers.

Extraordinarily responsive to literary influence, Melville frequently marked and annotated what he read, and he relied heavily on sources in the composition of his own works. Pursuit of Melville’s dispersed library and identification of his reading and sources have extended across several generations of scholars and now approach 100 years of research. In the 1920s, pioneering biographer Raymond M. Weaver consulted many copies of autographed books then in the possession of family members. In the 1930s, Charles Olson tracked down additional family copies and interviewed book sellers and buyers who had played roles in the dispersal of the library. In the 1940s, Merton M. Sealts, Jr., first published “Melville’s Reading: A Check-List of Books Owned and Borrowed,” which for the past half-century has served (in separate editions of 1948-50, 1966, and 1988) as the primary source for title and edition information on books linked by documentary evidence to Melville and his immediate family. Now, the “Online Catalog of Books and Documents Owned, Borrowed and Consulted by Herman Melville” succeeds and augments the Sealts “Check-List,” offering a searchable database of bibliographical entries sortable by various classes of information and immediately updateable as information and books from Melville’s library continue to resurface.

In recognition of Professor Sealts’s career-long effort to track and document books from Melville’s library, the “Online Catalog” retains the numeric system used by the “Check-List,” with a designated “Sealts Number” for each bibliographical entry. (Some individual entries have been renumbered in response to information uncovered since Sealts’s work.) In all other respects the entries have been reorganized and rewritten to capitalize on the benefits of a digital environment. These benefits allow for expanded author, title and publication fields, fuller notes and documentation, and—in some classes of entries—a pop-up mouse-over feature that presents pertinent quotations from Melville’s letters, journals, writings, and other resources. The “Online Catalog” classifies Melville family holdings as either “Books Owned” or  “Books Borrowed or Consulted” (with both categories including documents identified as non-books, such as serials, pamphlets and broadsides). This resource lists only books and titles that can be linked to Herman Melville and his immediate family by documentary evidence, such as Melville’s autograph in extant copies, references to book purchases in his letters and journals, and library charge records. For an extensive listing of books identified on the basis of influence and source study of Melville’s writings, users should consult Mary K. Bercaw, Melville’s Sources (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1987).

Books Owned

Books owned by Melville and his immediate family are documented in the “Online Catalog” as surviving books and as books not known to survive. Surviving books include copies bearing Melville’s autograph and/or marginalia, copies that display a Melville family association by inscription or marking, and copies that bear no associated autograph or marginalia but are connected by provenance to copies that do. As mentioned above, Melville’s father Allan Melvill owned a library, and a portion of these books were retained in the family following his financial decline and early death. For instance, in addition to bearing his own autograph, Allan Melvill’s copy of Edmund Spenser’s Poetical Works is marked and annotated by Herman Melville, and its additional inscriptions reveal that it was presented by him to his sister Augusta Melville (see Sealts No. 483a). Other titles in the "Books Owned" category bear inscriptions that date to the courtship of Allan and Maria Gansevoort Melvill, autographs of Melville’s sisters and brothers, and autographs or inscriptions associated with his wife and children. Some clearly passed through Melville’s own hands, such as copies he himself inscribed to family members. Still others bear no explicit connection to Herman Melville but were shelved in his household and read within the family.

Copies associated directly with Herman Melville constitute the most important class of books in the “Online Catalog” and are separately classified as books with marginalia and books without marginalia. These can be further sorted by institutional and private collection, and (with other catalog entries) by subject, by decade of acquisition by Melville, and by century of imprint. The “Online Catalog” documents many different means through which Melville acquired books and indicates noteworthy material characteristics such as whether or not a book was rebound during Melville’s ownership. For instance, the front inscription in his copy of James Boaden’s Portraits of Shakespeare (Sealts No. 71) suggests Melville acquired it at auction on 27 June 1848 (see Figure 3). Purchased inexpensively then bound, the copy exemplifies typical characteristics of books bought by Melville in compromised condition, repaired according to his specifications, and cherished with a front inscription or journal entry commemorating the find (see Figure 4, and Sealts No. 137). The inscription in his father’s copy of extracts from Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy documents Melville’s reliance on second-hand book sellers, in this case the shop of William Gowans at 63 Liberty Street in Manhattan (see Figure 2). Important to this class of acquisitions is Melville’s visit to England and the Continent in 1849, where he documented his purchases with lists of books he acquired in London, Germany, and France in the journal he kept on this journey (see Figure 5 and Figure 6). There Melville’s acquisitions of folio editions of works by Sir Thomas Browne, Ben Jonson, and Beaumont and Fletcher (to name several that appear on his list of purchases) illustrate his fond enthusiasm for antiquated books. From Manhattan book sellers Melville collected works by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Matthew Arnold, Honoré de Balzac, and Arthur Schopenhauer, among other major thinkers and writers. (Purchases made in Massachusetts during his mid-career residency in Pittsfield are less thoroughly documented.) These buying activities extended up to his death on 28 September 1891. Among late descriptions of Melville’s person, the most vivid accounts come from eye-witnesses who describe him browsing quietly in bookstores.

Most of the above named acquisitions constitute books that survive in the Melville collections of institutional and private libraries, and these can be selected and sorted using the “Collection” field of the “Online Catalog.” But Melville owned many more titles than are known to survive, and his letters, journals, and publisher’s accounts provide valuable evidence of copies acquired by Melville that have not yet resurfaced from the posthumous dispersal of his library. Among these are the folio copy of Browne’s Works listed among his London purchases, as well as numerous books he purchased directly from his own publishers. The account statements of the firms of Wiley & Putnam and of Harper & Brothers constitute our sole evidence of many titles that remain lost (see Figure 7). In addition to publisher’s documents, Melville’s own letters and journals furnish references to books that are not known to survive—in some cases including enough information (such as price or number of volumes) to identify the exact editions of the books in question. For instance, Melville’s lost folio set of Pierre Bayle’s Historical and Critical Dictionary (see Sealts No. 51, described in Melville’s letter of 5 April 1849 to Evert Duyckinck) can only be the 1710 London edition printed in 4 volumes. A collector’s item when Melville acquired it, the set is likely extant in some collection but unidentified as Melville’s. The editors hope that the appearance of the “Online Catalog” will help to bring about the discovery and disclosure of this and still more titles owned by Melville but not yet known to survive.

Books Borrowed or Consulted

Just as Melville can be assumed to have autographed, marked and annotated more books than are known to survive from his library, so too he can be assumed to have borrowed and consulted more books than he owned. This class of Melville’s reading begins, naturally enough, with his early schooling at Albany Academy and Lansingburgh Academy, his membership in the Albany Young Men’s Association (which like the two academies is known to have maintained a library), and his access to ship’s libraries during his voyages as a sailor from 1839 to 1844. Few documents exist to associate Melville with specific titles during these periods that pre-date his career as an author. We do not reach firm ground until we encounter his documented use of institutional and private libraries for access to books that were crucial to his intellectual development and to the composition of his own works. Melville’s membership with the New York Society Library in 1848 and 1850, and from 1889 to 1891, is noteworthy for its influence during early and late points of his authorship. The Library’s surviving ledgers document Melville’s borrowing of William Scoresby’s Account of the Arctic Regions and Journal of the Northern Whale Fishery during the composition of Moby-Dick (see Figure 8 and Sealts No. 450 and No. 451), and a work on the "Mutiny at Nore" during the composition of Billy Budd a year before his death (see Figure 9 and Sealts No. 297), among other books. With its open stacks and spacious reading room, the New York Society Library was likely an author’s haven for Melville when he composed Mardi, Redburn, and White-Jacket in the years 1848 and 1849 (when its holdings were available to him on site through payment of a non-membership fee), as well as early 1850 when he commenced the work that would become Moby-Dick. In addition to books charged to Melville during the periods of his membership, others were not checked out but consulted by him exclusively on site, such as the Library’s surviving copy of Thomas Roscoe’s The German Novelists, which contains marginalia that may be in Melville’s hand (see Figure 10 and Sealts No. 428b.1).

During the period of Melville’s early career he also frequently borrowed books from the library of his friend Evert A. Duyckinck, whose record of “Books Lent” lists 30 charges by Melville (see Figure 11), and whose 1838 and 1856 manuscript catalogues furnish edition information on these books (see Figure 12 and Figure 13). Duyckinck’s extensive book collection (the incomplete 1856 catalogues tabulate over 2,000 volumes) seems to have served Melville in the period from 1847 to 1850 as the closest model for his own collecting ambitions. Duyckinck’s catalogues list many books in editions Melville would go on to acquire himself, and it is during this period of heavy reliance on his friend’s collection that imagery involving books and libraries begin to appear in Melville’s own fiction. Indeed, the earliest known reference in Melville family correspondence to “Herman’s library” occurs in a 6 January 1851 letter by his sister Augusta, who alludes to a box of books transported to Melville’s new home of “Arrowhead” outside Pittsfield, MA, by their brother Allan (see Sealts No. 171). A stationer’s label in Melville’s blank “Catalogue of Library” dates to this same period and suggests its spine labels may have been made at about this time.

His own growing library notwithstanding, Melville would complain to Duyckinck in a letter of 7 November 1851, “They have no Vatican (as you have) in Pittsfield here” (Correspondence 209). During his residency in Massachusetts, which lasted from 1850 to 1863, Melville may have benefitted from his father-in-law Lemuel Shaw’s membership at the Boston Athenaeum. For this reason, the “Online Catalog” documents Shaw’s charges from the Athenaeum during periods when the Melville’s visited Boston and stayed at the Shaw home (for example, see Sealts No. 155). Even before relocating to Manhattan in 1863, Melville began consulting books at the Astor Library on visits to New York City. The earliest documented instance is 10 April 1860, when Melville visited the library to consult the London Quarterly Review (see Sealts No. 414a), and he naturally continued to consult books at the non-circulating Astor Library after relocating with his wife Elizabeth and their four children to Manhattan. At the Astor Melville availed himself of books in both the Library’s “North Building” (housing books in history and literature) and “South Building” (housing books in science and the industrial arts), as revealed by entries in the daily registers maintained by both buildings (see Figure 14 and Sealts No. 143.2). As an author, moreover, Melville applied for and received admission to the Astor Library’s holdings as an approved “Alcove Reader,” which meant he was allowed access to special reading areas within the library’s closed stacks. There he could pull down and consult what he wished without entering his name alongside specific titles in the daily register. With these privileges, Melville on 30 June and 6 July 1866 appears to have mined source material for his supplement to Battle-Pieces in the “American History” alcove (see Figure 15 and Sealts No. 83c), and to have consulted sources for his newly-commenced epic poem Clarel; A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land with a visit to the “Eastern Travels” alcove on 1 February 1869 (see Figure 16 and Sealts No. 83d), possibilities suggested by the library’s register of alcove admissions.

As a hitherto unknown resource for information on Melville’s reading, the Astor Library records continue to be searched by staff of Melville’s Marginalia Online and may yield additional new entries beyond the 9 new Sealts numbers currently based on this resource. Moreover, the Astor clearly was not the only institutional library used by Melville in his late career. As observed above, Melville and his wife Elizabeth held membership in the New York Society Library from 1889 to 1891, and ongoing investigation of its extensive ledgers is recovering information not previously documented by Sealts. Other libraries yet to be identified may yield new information as well. Melville is known, during the composition of Billy Budd, to have recorded reading notes from William James’ Naval History of Great Britain (Sealts No. 294a) onto two surviving library call slips from an as yet unknown institution (see Figure 17). If identified (Sealts speculated it may be the Apprentices’ Library of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, located just a few blocks away from Melville’s own residence from 1878 onward), this library may also furnish records that shed light on Melville’s late borrowing and reading.

In his correspondence with Merton M. Sealts, Jr., Charles Olsen referred to the lost "500," having apparently been informed that this was the approximate quantity of books from Melville's library sold by Elizabeth Shaw Melville to the bookseller A. F. Farnell, whose Brooklyn shop label appears in a number of books known to survive from the dispersal. That number is roughly the amount of books identified in the “Online Catalog” as owned by Herman Melville (including both surviving books and the titles of books not known to survive), leaving about 500 of the original 1,000 owned books that have yet to be identified from documentary evidence. As the new primary resource for information on books and documents connected to Herman Melville, Melville's Marginalia Online welcomes feedback and notification by dealers and collectors, librarians, scholars and all admirers of Herman Melville who may have information or leads on his association with specific copies or titles (contact the project at Development and expansion of the "Online Catalog" will progress not only with the addition of entries on newly-surfaced copies and title information, but also in the form of continued refinement of bibliographical entries and of its user-interface (we also welcome feedback on the usability and productivity of its sorting options). For its present stage of completion, users should bear in mind the following points of guidance for searching.

Guidance for Searching

By Subject  Online Catalog entries can be sorted with up to three separate subject fields that distinguish between prose and verse as well as among various subject classifications such as Biography, Philosophy and Religion, Travel, etc. Classifications have been assigned loosely, and require users to employ their own judgment in the sorting of search results. While many entries have been assigned multiple subject categories (i.e., both "Natural History" and "Travel" for Sealts No. 52), these classifications apply only to the primary content of books owned or borrowed by Melville, and will not yield differently classified books with relevant ancillary material. For instance, choosing the classification "Biography" will not return works of fiction that contain a biographical introduction on the author. In addition to sorting by subject, the Catalog offers a keyword search option that can either be combined with sorting classifications or be employed independently of other options. The Online Catalog’s "Personal List" feature provides users with the option of compiling their own lists, and allows users to save comments on individual catalog entries.

By Association  "Association" signifies the connection of a book with Melville family members. Options for sorting by association include "Any Melville family member," "Herman Melville," "Another Melville family member," and "Herman Melville and another Melville family member." Selecting "Any Melville family member" without additional sorting will return the entire contents of the "Online Catalog." Selecting "Herman Melville" will return entries for books directly connected to his library and reading. Selecting “Another Melville family member” will return only entries for Melville family books that bear no explicit link to Herman Melville. Selecting "Herman Melville and another Melville family member" will return entries for books owned mutually or sequentially by him and a parent, sibling or child, such as books presented to Melville or inherited by him from family members (and vise versa). Unless otherwise specified, presentation inscriptions are in the hand of the presenter. This last classification also applies to books acquired by Melville and a family member in such a way as to make the exact association ambiguous, as in some cases with the following documentary sources:

  • Publishers' Accounts  Melville’s account statements with the publishers Wiley & Putnam and Harper & Brothers sometimes list books ordered "for Brother" and "Del Brother" (i.e., delivered to brother) and "to A Melville," revealing that Allan Melville, Jr., now and then charged books on his older brother’s accounts with the firms. Such instances bear a documentary connection to both brothers, and it is not always clear whether the book in question was acquired by Allan for himself or on behalf of Herman.
  • New York Society Library Ledger  Books borrowed by Herman and Elizabeth Shaw Melville from the New York Society Library from 1890 to 1891 are listed on a single page devoted to both of them in the Library's Alphabetical Ledger (see Figure 9). A page in the preceding ledger for 1889 lists only "Herman Melville" (and is otherwise blank), and in the 1890/91 ledger Herman’s name appears to be lined out, and Elizabeth's appears to have been inscribed above his at some point after the page was assigned to Herman. These signs indicate Herman’s use of the Library diminished over the term of membership while Elizabeth's use of the Library continued. Combined with fairly clear distinctions among the content of books charged (ranging from Arthur Schopenhauer's Councils and Maxims to Annie Hector's A Woman's Heart), the apparent sequence of use has contributed somewhat to the task of distinguishing Herman’s charges from Elizabeth's. But some of the NYSL charges can easily be attributed to either Herman or Elizabeth, and remain classified in the "Online Catalog" as linked to "Herman Melville and another Melville family member."
  • Boston Athenaeum Charges by Lemuel Shaw  Books charged from the Boston Athenaeum by Elizabeth's father Lemuel Shaw during stays by Herman and Elizabeth at the Shaw home are also included in the "Online Catalog," and are associated with "Another Melville family member." As with all entries in this category, the books charged by Shaw cannot be explicitly linked to Herman Melville but are included here as titles of proximity to which he may have had access, some of which may even have been charged on Melville's behalf.

By Owned or Borrowed Status  Most books associated with Herman Melville in the Online Catalog can be clearly identified as either owned or borrowed. In cases where Melville can be shown to have borrowed a book then purchased a copy of his own, a separate bibliographical entry is devoted to each copy, with each entry designated by its own Sealts number. Books not clearly classifiable as owned or borrowed, but which were definitely linked to Melville in one or the other capacity, are listed with owned books but described in their "Association" fields as "Owned or borrowed by Herman Melville." Such instances include entries for books not known to survive but that Melville can be seen to cite, or from which he quotes, in surviving documents such as journal entries or the margins of extant books (see Sealts No. 436a and No. 173a).

By Decade of Acquisition  Melville often supplied a date when he autographed the front fly leaves or pastedowns of books he owned, and records are typically clearly dated for the majority of books he borrowed. Except for where clear evidence exists to the contrary, Melville’s dated front inscriptions are assumed to signify date of acquisition rather than of reading—though in most cases Melville seems to have read or at least begun consulting books shortly after acquiring them. Documented dates of acquisition are listed according to decade in the "Online Catalog," and decade of acquisition is designated as "unknown" for copies lacking a dated autograph or other form of datable evidence. Exceptions to this rule apply to books that are undated by Melville, but that are limited by date of publisher’s imprint to acquisition in the 1880s (the decade preceding Melville’s death in 1891) and the early 1890s.

By Status of Survival  Surviving books owned by Melville are classified as extant and identified by institutional or private collection in the "Location" fields of individual entries. Major collections can be separately sorted by making a selection in the "Collection" field of the "Online Catalog." Some books known to survive on the basis of documentary evidence are currently unlocated, and the "Location" fields for these copies designate their whereabouts as "Unknown." Books not known to have resurfaced from the posthumous dispersal of Melville’s library are listed in the “Location” fields as "Not known to survive." Entries for books borrowed by Melville do not presently display a "Location" designation, but that will change as the "Online Catalog" evolves, and as edition staff complete their investigation of period holdings at the New York Society Library and of copies borrowed or consulted by Melville that are still preserved from the Duyckinck and Astor Library collections at the New York Public Library.

By Marginalia  The "Digital Copies" option of the search tool enables retrieval of marked and annotated printed content and of written content in selected volumes by keyword or expression. Filtering options allow users to restrict results to marked text, annotations, and (for Melville's markings and inscription in either or both mediums) erased content. The Search tool has been made available in a beta testing mode, to be developed further with options for sorting by marking variety (i.e., underlined vs. scored text), by differentiation among marked text and nearby umarked text (for contextual content), and by other filtering options. See the section below on "XML Encoding" for markup practices, and visit the "Policies" page for an explanation of the site's visualization features. The editors welcome feedback by users about their experiences with these and all features of the site, and they can be reached through the project's "Contact and Support" page.

XML Encoding

Keyword search retrieval and display are enabled by machine-readable transcriptions in extensible markup language (XML) that associates printed text and Melville's hand-written words with pixel coordinates on the page and leaf images that comprise the digital copies of his books. Numeric pixel values in the markup allow for printed and handwritten words to appear highlighted (or outlined in red on enhanced images) when submitted and displayed through use of the search tool. The coordinate-based character of the XML renders it incompatible with Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) standards. It has been adopted by Melville's Marginalia Online for its functional properties rather than for the descriptive purposes that commonly underlie markup practices in online humanities projects. Under this policy, typographical transcriptions of text marked by Melville observe basic upper- and lower-case distinctions but do not observe font-stylistic distinctions in the original texts such as italics and small caps. Currently this minimalist editorial approach is warranted by the project’s guiding emphasis on substantive (as opposed to refined) search functionality and display, as well as by persistent methodological obstacles to encoding marginalia satisfactorily in accordance with TEI guidelines. The project's encoding practices will evolve as technology and funding allow.

Editorial decisions for transcribing content as “marked” vary according to the type of marginalia involved. Marginal scores, for instance, have relatively clear beginning- and end-points in relation to textual line enumeration. MMO’s policy in such instances is to transcribe and identify as “marked” the entirety of the text within scored content, even though linguistically textual lines may begin and conclude mid-clause. Instances of marking types like checkmarks and x’s involve less spatial clarity, making detailed association of marginalia and textual content more of an interpretive matter. Editorial line designations and transcriptions of content in such instances are made on the basis of syntactical sense, and generally err on the side of inclusiveness in situations where it is unclear whether Melville was marking an independent clause or a subordinate phrase within it.

The coordinate-based character of the XML presents no obstacles to accurate representation and regularization of searchable text. Disrupted and non-standard word forms in text marked by Melville are encoded using the following conventions:

        <w x="2064">
        <line c="2004" h="60" n="20">
            <w x="739" endhyph="true">ly</w>

All instances of contracted words and expressions (i.e., "into't" and "sweet'st") are encoded to return either the actual or regularized word forms involved, depending on the search term:

                    <reg>into it</reg>



Similarly, hard-hyphenated compound words (i.e., "thunder-stone") are encoded to return the full hyphenated expression or any whole word contained within it (i.e., "thunder" or "stone"). Typographical errors are likewise encoded using <orig> and <reg> tagging, as are instances of anglicized or antiquated spelling (i.e., "honour" or "villany"), with the exception of pervasive obsolete pronouns and simple verb forms (i.e., "thou," "art," and "dost"), which are not regularized. Fuller flexibility such as wildcard options will be added as the search tool undergoes continued development.

The above markup practices have also been applied to transcriptions of Melville's handwritten annotations in instances of outright misspelling, contraction, and hyphenation where they can be plausibly determined. As explained in the section of "Editorial Policies" entitled "Transcriptions of Melville's Hand," transcriptions displayed in the sidebar apparatus of the page viewer present the latest versions of inscriptions and annotations in Melville's hand, with readings aimed at representing Melville's intentions in the act of inscription. This principle is likewise observed in the encoding of annotations and inscriptions. Accounts of genetic details, such as strike-through's and overwrite's, are provided in the commentary feature of the sidebar apparatus.

Links to downloadable XML for Melville's marginalia will be added to the record fields of digital copies as workflow, testing, and research initiatives by MMO staff members permit. In cases where staff responsible for the production of markup in a given volume or set are concurrently pursuing separate publication involving the data in question, downloadable XML may not be made available until their scholarship appears in print.


The “Online Catalog of Books and Documents Owned, Borrowed and Consulted by Herman Melville” is the product of research and verification by the editors of Melville’s Marginalia Online and of data entry and research assistance by 2006-08 Boise State University student interns James Calentino, Scott Clark, Rachel Hays, Dustin N. Hunt, Andrea Johnson, Christopher Ohge, Callan Seward, Nathan Spann, Jones B. Turner, Christy Claymore Vance, Anna Warns, and Steven D. Wells. The “Online Catalog” was commenced with the help of a Research Initiation Grant from Boise State University and support from the Idaho Humanities Council. Development of the digital copy search feature has been supported by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Boise State University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, College of Arts and Sciences, Arts and Humanities Institute, and Department of English.

Numerous individuals have provided valuable support and encouragement, including Bruce Ballenger, Elisa Barney Smith, Dennis Berthold, Kent Bicknell, Travis Brown, John Bryant, Ken Carpenter, Matt Cohen, Andrew Delbanco, Philip Eastman, John M. J. Gretchko, Kevin J. Hayes, Thomas Heffernan, Wyn Kelley, Larry Kincaid, J. A. Leo Lemay, Helen Lojek, Robert Madison, Mike Markel, Scott Norsworthy, Jacky O'Connor, Samuel Otter, Hershel Parker, Michelle Payne, Charles E. Robinson, Martin Schimpf, Robert K. Wallace, and Norman Weinstein; Kathleen Reilly, Ruth Degenhardt, and the staff of the Berkshire Athenaeum; the staff of the Berkshire Historical Society at Herman Melville's Arrowhead; Kim Leeder and the Reference staff of Albertsons Library, Boise State University; Alan Virta, Mary Carter-Hepworth and the staff of Albertsons Library Special Collections, Boise State University; Gwen Pittam and the staff of the Albertsons Library Interlibrary Loan Division, Boise State University; the staff of Houghton Library, Harvard University; Thomas Lannon and the staff of the New York Public Library; Mark Bartlett, Arevig Caprielian, Laura O’Keefe, and the staff of the New York Society Library; and William Reese, of the William Reese Company, New Haven, Connecticut.


The following institutions and private collections are credited in the “Location” and “Notes” fields of entries in the “Online Catalog,” in some cases with abbreviated references supplied here in parentheses:

Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Berkshire County Historical Society, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Collection of Mr. Kent Bicknell, and of a private collector c/o Kent Bicknell, Sanbornton, NH

Boston Athenaeum, Boston, Massachusetts

Brown University, the John Hay Library

Cornell University Library Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.

Houghton Library, Harvard University, by permission of Houghton Library 

Herman Melville Papers (HMP), Houghton Library, Harvard University

Indiana University of Pennsylvania 

Lansingburgh Historical Society, Lansingburgh, New York

The New-York Historical Society

New York Public Library Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

New York Public Library Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations 

Astor Library Records, 1839-1911, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

Duyckinck Family Papers, Volumes and Slipcases, MssCol 873, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

Gansevoort Lansing Collection (NYPL-GL), Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations 

New York Public Library Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

New York Society Library 

Newberry Library, Chicago, IL

Princeton University Library 

Collection of Mr. William Reese, of the William Reese Company, New Haven, Connecticut

Rosenbach Museum and Library, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Collection of Mr. Clifford Ross

Stephen B. Luce Library, Maritime College, State University of New York 

University of Virginia Library Special Collections

Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 

Yale University Library, the Beinecke Library

Works Cited

The Northwestern-Newberry Writings of Herman Melville (NN). 14 volumes to date. Edited by Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, G. Thomas Tanselle, and others. Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University Press and the Newberry Library, 1968-. Typee (1968); Omoo (1968); Mardi (1970); Redburn (1969); White-Jacket (1970); Moby-Dick (1988); Pierre (1971); The Piazza-Tales, and Other Prose Pieces (1987); Israel Potter (1982); The Confidence-Man (1984); Clarel (1991); Correspondence (1993); Journals (1989); Published Poems (2009).

Scholarly Resources Cited

Davis, Merrell R. Melville's Mardi: A Chartless Voyage. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1952.

The Melville Log: A Documentary Life of Herman Melville, 1819-1891. Jay Leyda, ed. 2 vols. New York: Harcourt Brace. 1951; reprint, with supplement, New York: Gordian Press. 1969.

Metcalf, Eleanor Melville. Herman Melville: Cycle and Epicycle. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953. 

Parker, Hershel. Herman Melville: A Biography. 2 vols. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1996 and 2001.

————. Melville: The Making of the Poet. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2008.

Sealts, Merton M., Jr. Melville’s Reading. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988.

————. The Early Lives of Melville. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1974.

————. Pursuing Melville. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982. 

(Additional books and articles are cited in full in the “Notes” fields of relevant entries in the “Online Catalog.”)


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