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English-language manuscript verse in the Houghton Library, circa 1000-1820: First-line index.

Houghton Library, Harvard College Library


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© 2005 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Last update on 2015 September 3

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
Call No.: First-line index
Title: English-language manuscript verse in the Houghton Library circa 1000-1820,
Date(s): 1987.
Language of materials: Index is in English.
Abstract: First-line index to English-language verse in manuscripts held in the Houghton Library that date from the Anglo-Saxon period to the nineteenth century.

Processing Information:

Compiled by: Peter J. Seng, 1987.
This finding aid has been improved immeasurably by the diligent efforts of Katherine Chase and Diane Booton. The difficult task of correcting call numbers in the original index was accomplished by Karen Nipps, Joseph Zajac, and Bonnie Salt.

Acquisition Information:

Manuscripts acquired from various sources at various times.

Access Restrictions:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

English-Language Manuscript Verse in the Houghton Library, circa 1000-1820: First-Line Index. Houghton Library, Harvard University.


Organized in the following series: I. First line index; and II. Register of manuscripts.

Scope and Content

This first-line index to English-language verse in manuscripts held at the Houghton Library, Harvard University includes verse, dating from the Anglo-Saxon period to the nineteenth century, and poems written by authors born before 1800 (such as John Keats) in manuscript anthologies, commonplace books, and cother collections, as well as single sheets.

How to use this index:

Poems are cited by first line as it appears in the manuscripts as given as well as when it is incomplete and ends imperfectly. When the first line of a partial poem is not metrically complete, the citation also includes the next succeeding line. Poems found incomplete in Houghton manuscripts are thus marked in the index. First lines are alphabetized word for word, including definite and indefinite articles. For alphabetization, the first line is usually spelled according to modern orthography; exceptions are Anglo-Saxon verse, where the aesc, eth, thorn, and yok have been transliterated, and Middle English and Scots, which have been copied as they appeared in the manuscripts.
Each first line is followed by a Houghton manuscript call number, followed (when applicable) by a roman numeral to indicate the volume of the manuscript in which the poem appears. The remaining number indicates the folio, folder, or page in that manuscript. For example, "A Belgian Hanks of noted rank (incomplete) MS Eng 612, ii, 56v" means that a partial extract, beginning with that line, will be found in volume ii, folio 56v of MS Eng 612. However, some Houghton manuscripts are not foliated. For loose leaves, the location of a verse within a manuscript cannot be specified. For bound but unfoliated manuscripts, Seng himself counted the foliation.
This index includes manuscripts in the Library's collection that were cataloged at the time Peter Seng compiled it (about 1980). The index has not been maintained.
All items described in this index are cataloged in detail in individual records in HOLLIS or in other collection finding aids in OASIS. Search in HOLLIS or OASIS by call number to retrieve these descriptions.