Robert Schweik

In 1976, EP Microform Ltd (East Ardsley, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF3 2JN, UK) published a set of 18 microfilm reels of Hardy manuscripts and other texts held in the Dorset County Museum and in such other repositories as the Royal Archives at Windsor and the British Library. This microfilm collection is certainly potentially useful for research or reference--given, of course, the constraint that microform copies can never be assumed to be adequate substitutes for direct examination of the originals.

Copies of this eighteen-reel set were acquired in the UK by the Dorset County Library and by Aberdeen University Library and other UK libraries. In the United States and Canada, by using an OCLC database search (a capability available through nearly all university and college libraries), it is possible to identify over forty libraries holding copies of this microfilm collection, and to learn which allow for interlibrary loans. Hardy scholars in search of microfilm of a particular text or other document have a valuable collection available to them--assuming that they can learn what particular reel contains the text they wish to see so that they may order that reel by interlibrary loan.

But two problems in utilizing this set of microfilms obtain. First, library catalogues sometimes describe them in confusing ways. Both the catalogues of Penn State University Libraries (see our LINKS 4.41) and Rochester University Library have catalogue descriptions which imply that the reels only include manuscripts in the Dorset County Museum--and neither is complete. Second, what manuscript or other text materials are included on what reels--information important to anyone wishing to interlibrary loan--is practically not available. A catalogue purporting to describe the contents of the collection, reel- by-reel, was published as "The Original MSS of Thomas Hardy on Microfilm," in the Thomas Hardy Society Newsletter, No. 28 (September,1976), PP. 7-8; but that anonymous note is very far from complete, and issues of that Newsletter can be hard to find. Hence, for those wishing to interlibrary loan a particular Hardy manuscript or other text available on microfilm, here is a more detailed list than is currently available. The list follows the capitalization and wording provided on the microfilm reels themselves, as well as the peculiarities of their spelling and punctuation.

Click here for Microfilm data: REELS 1-18
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