Mega Microforms; Ambitious New Publication Projects for Scholarly Research

Article excerpt

Mega Microforms

LIBRARY USE OF MICRO-formsfor the preservation and dissemination of research materials began in the 1930s and reached its zenith in the 1970s.1 One reason often given for the enormous growth of scholarly micropublishing was the increase in college libraries and the availability of federal dollars in the 1960s before the days of double-digit inflation. A similar increase also took place in scholarly reprinting.2 When the reprinting industry declined, many people assumed that the same fate awaited scholarly micropublishing.

Micropublishers go for growth

Even Alan Meckler, publisher of MicroformReview and Guide to Microforms in Print, sounded a pessimistic note in a 1983 interview.3 According to Meckler what happened in micropublishing was the same thing that happened to scholarly reprinting. When libraries lost their buying power due to inflation and budget cutbacks, retrospective materials lost their allure. He concluded that scholarly micropublishing was not a growth industry. Since most of the great ideas had been creamed off, he said, the way to make money in scholarly micropublishing was through an entrepreneurial route of digging to find new micropublishing projects in untouched areas and bring them off with low overhead.

At present, scholarly micropublishing isundergoing a period of increased growth marked by several large, major, and expensive collections in a variety of subjects. Much of this is being done along the pattern which Meckler suggested. Here is a sampling of what's new and hot in scholarly micropublishing.

Hottest topic: American history

American history seems to be the areayielding the most new material. University Microfilms International is releasing the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society containing papers of various members of the Adams family, Edward Everett, William Lloyd Garrison, Elbridge Gerry, and Cotton Mather. Also available from UMI is Pamphlets in American History, which comprises over 16,000 titles and includes segments on women and American Indians. University Publications of America is putting out Research Collections in American Politics in three parts: Papers of the Republican Party, 1911-1960, John F. Kennedy's 1960 Presidential Campaign, and Diaries of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953-1960.

Chadwyck-Healey, Inc., has issued NationalInventory of Documentary Sources in the United States, an ambitious effort to aid scholarship by reproducing on microfiche finding aids for manuscript and archival collections in U.S. repositories. Research Publications is offering The Immigrant in America, covering the period 1789-1929, and Texas as Province and Republic, 1795-1845.

Clearwater has put out Vietnam: a DocumentaryCollection-Westmoreland v. CBS, which documents the recent libel case. UMI will soon begin to release History of the Vietnam War, reproducing over the course of four years 325,000 pages of documents assembled by Douglas Pike of the University of California/Berkeley.

Collections in Black Studies includeUMI's Slavery: Catalyst for Conflict and UPA's ongoing Papers of the NAACP with five new parts: Campaign for Educational Equality, 1913-1950, Voting Rights Campaign, 1916-1950, Campaign Against Residential Segregation, 1916-1955, Scottsboro Case, 1931, and Anti-Lynching Campaign, 1909-1940. Chadwyck-Healey is now marketing The Joe Louis Scrapbooks, 1935-1944, which covers the most important years of that professional boxing career.

The Center for Research Libraries sponsorstwo microfilming programs pertinent to ethnic studies: the Latin American Microform Project4 and the Cooperative Africana Microform Project.5 The National Archives has issued a catalog entitled Black Studies: a Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications describing its microform holdings in this area.

Women's studies

Collections in Women's Studies aboundand many have been enumerated in a recent survey. …