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REVIEWS John North, ed. The Waterloo Directory of Scottish Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900. 2 vols. Waterloo: North Waterloo Academic Press, 1989. 2,200. £370; $640; $800 CDN. With the publication, in 1989, of the Waterloo Directory of Scottish Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900, vols. I and II, John North stands just one step away from his long-term goal, pursued in a now 16-year quest, to bring some degree of bibliographic control to Victorian periodical literature. In addition to reviewing the two volumes on Scottish serials, it will also be useful to note what has been previously accomplished and what lies yet ahead. The first volume in this series, The Waterloo Directory of Victorian Periodicals, 1824-1900, phase I (1976) ed. Michael Wolff, Dorothy Deering, and John North, attempted to list alphabetically all newspaper and periodicals titles published in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in the last seventy-five years in the nineteenth century. It belonged to an earlier era when periodicals research was much less sophisticated than it is today. It was a heroic, if naive, effort at a time when researchers innocently estimated that no more than 16,000 titles composed the canon. Some critics at the time were harsh (see Newsletter, Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada, vol 13, no. 1, spring, 1987, 63-68) but, in the end, the first volume proved to be a valuable learning tool. It has led to more successful subsequent publications: The Waterloo Directory of Irish Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900, phase II, ed. John North (1986); and the two Scottish volumes presently under consideration. One of the chief problems in periodicals research, as it has evolved over the last thirty years, has been to bring this mass of material under bibliographic control. Scott Bennett, in his essay "The Bibliographic Control of Victorian Periodicals," (Victorian Periodicals: A Guide to Research, vol. I, ed. Vann, J. Don and Rosemary T. VanArsdel, 21-51) commented on the irony that "the very periodicals that gave the era its individuality rapidly lost their usefulness even to contemporary readers because there was no way to know what was in them: they were under inadequate bibliographical control" (21). What was needed was the means 72Victorian Review to list or catalogue individual titles, and, secondly, to provide knowledge of their contents so researchers might make effective and efficient use of their material. North's first effort fell short because the information he gathered was not comprehensive enough, or as one reviewer criticized, because of its "non-inclusiveness," but it was a valuable start. The volume on Irish periodicals was another story. North selected Ireland to be next in his investigations because of its small size and its geographic isolation. Methods could be "developed and tested there before the larger body of periodicals published in Scotland, Wales, and England was addressed" (Waterloo Directory, II, 17). He was particularly successful in compiling an exhaustive list of titles, in all fields of human endeavour; but most important, responding to the charge of noninclusiveness , he expanded the categories of information, to include such items as: reference number; main entry; cross-references; subtitle; numbering; publication dates; place of publication; subsidiary and alternate titles with dates; editor; proprietor; publisher; printer; size; price; circulation; frequency; illustration; issuing body; indexing; subjects; departments; colour (religious or political); comments; mergers; sources; histories; location. Here was a reference work of real merit and usefulness. Critical reception was enthusiastic. Professor David DeLaura noted it "marks the first stage of a true culmination in the modern efforts to map out the thickly overgrown landscape of Victorian periodicals .... A whole new universe of hitherto unreachable, almost unimaginable, information tumbles out, encouraging the researcher to explore beyond the small number of journals almost invariably surveyed in the past ... an indispensable 'enabling' tool . . ." (private information). While FJ.G. Robinson, Director of the Nineteenth Century Short Title Catalogue, called it an "impressively detailed and exhaustive piece of research . . . fundamental . . ." (private information). * * * With the Scottish volumes North has once again built upon previous experience. Arguing that periodicals are the most wide-ranging, complete source of information for nineteenth-century society, he notes the volumes contain "serial fiction, the poetry, the news, the triumphs of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 71-75
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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