|The Bibliographical Society of
America (BSA) is the oldest scholarly society in North America dedicated
to the study of books and manuscripts as physical objects. It was
organized in 1904 and incorporated in 1927 with the principal objectives
of promoting bibliographical research and issuing bibliographical
publications. These objectives have been and continue to be accomplished
through a broad array of activities, including meetings, lectures, and
fellowship programs, as well as the publishing of books and the
Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America (PBSA),
North America’s leading bibliographical journal. The Society is open to
all those interested in bibliographical problems and projects, and its
membership includes bibliographers, librarians, professors, students,
booksellers, and collectors worldwide. Libraries are welcome as
institutional members (see the Society's
The majority of the Society's members are
from the United States and Canada, but most European
countries, Japan, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand are
also represented, together with institutions in Brazil,
India, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe.
The Society holds its annual meeting each January in New York City. The meeting consists of a session of three papers delivered by New Scholars on their current research, a business meeting, an address by an invited speaker, and a reception. Recent speakers have included: Adrian Johns, “The Uses of Print in the History of Science”; Carol Clark, “Haunted Paintings in the World of Print: Charles Deas (1818–1867)”; Bettina Wagner, “Collecting, Cataloguing, and Digitizing Incunabula at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Munich”; David Pearson, “Books as History: Changing Values in a Digital Age”; and Owen Gingerich, “Researching The Book Nobody Read: Copernicus’s De revolutionibus.” The Society sponsors its own conferences, as well as joint meetings with allied organizations, and panels and speakers at other societies’ conferences, in the United States and abroad. Past conferences include “Poetry and Print in Early America” (Worcester, 2012); “Reading in the White House (Washington, D.C., 2010); “Book Catalogues: Tomorrow and Beyond” (New York, 2008); and “Roughing It: Printing and the Press in the West” (St. Louis, 2004).
Fellowships & Prizes
The BSA funds short-term fellowships of one or two months to support bibliographical projects as well as research in the history of the book trades and in publishing history. In addition, it sponsors the New Scholars Program, which funds early-career scholars to deliver papers on bibliographical topics at a forum immediately preceding the BSA annual meeting. The Society also awards the William L. Mitchell Prize for Bibliography or Documentary Work on Early British Periodicals or Newspapers; the Justin G. Schiller Prize for Bibliographical Work in Pre-20th Century Children’s Books, and the St. Louis Mercantile Library Prize in American Bibliography. Further information on fellowship programs and prizes is available on the website.
The BSA maintains an active publishing program and is
responsible for many landmark bibliographical publications. Among these
are Joseph Sabin’s Bibliotheca Americana, continued by Eames and
Vail (1936), Margaret Stillwell’s second and Frederick Goff’s third
census of Incunabula in American Libraries (1940, 1964), as well
as the Supplement to Goff (1972), and C. U. Faye’s and W. H.
Bond’s Supplement to the Census of Medieval and Renaissance
Manuscripts in the United States and Canada (1962). The Society also
supervised preparation and publication of the Bibliography of
American Literature (1955–1991).
Since 1907 the Society has published the distinguished quarterly journal Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America. PBSA features articles and reviews on a rich variety of bibliographical and book history topics, including printing, binding, publication, distribution, collecting, and textual analysis. Subscription to the journal is available only through membership in the Bibliographical Society of America.