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Guide to Early Printed Books

A guide to help you locate and use books printed in the major languages of Western Europe between 1450 and 1700

Collections in North America

Title page of the Bay Psalm Book, printed in 1640 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Printing in the New World began in 1539 in Mexico City. The term "incunables americanos" is used in Spanish to refer to books printed from 1539 to 1600 (as opposed to incunables in the European sense, books printed from 1455 to 1500). Scholars and religious figures of New Spain also acquired significant collections of printed books during the colonial period. 

More recently, private collectors and institutions have purchased a number of early European books that are now housed in libraries throughout North America. The focus of this guide is on books printed in Western Europe, but many of these libraries have collections both of early European books and of books from the earliest years of printing in the Americas. Here are just a few of the most important collections.

United States

Facade of the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, Rhode Island

The John Carter Brown Library in Providence, Rhode Island

Mexico

Interior of the Palafox Library in Puebla, Mexico

Interior of the Palafox Library in Puebla, Mexico

Canada

Librarian

Sarah G. Wenzel's picture
Sarah G. Wenzel
Contact:
sgwenzel@uchicago.edu

Bibliographer
Literatures of Europe & the Americas

Regenstein Library
Room 363
773.702.8448

Author of This Guide

Katrina Powers's picture
Katrina Powers
Contact:
kpowers@uchicago.edu

Katrina Powers is a doctoral candidate in Romance Languages and Literatures. She created this guide in summer 2016.