The Reference Catalogue of Current Literature (London)

Index for the 58 years 1874-1932

Index for 1874-1913 and for 1920-1932

Indices for Individual Issues

1874    1875    1877    1880    1884     1888

1894    1898    1902    1906    1910    1913

1920   1924   1928   1932   1936

Abbreviations Generally Used

Brief History of The Reference Catalogue of Current Literature

Explicitly copied on PTLA and published by W. Whitaker & Sons,The Reference Catalogue ... began in 1874, with second issue in 1875, third in 1877, fourth 1880, and thereafter generally every four years until 1961, with suspensions during both WWI and WWII. In 1965-1987 it was retitled British Books in Print, from 1988 to 2003 again retitled Whitaker's Books in Print, and since 2004 has been incorporated in an online product, Bowker's British Books in Print. Many volumes are available in digital editions on HathiTrust, with those from 1875 through 1924 open for Full View; 1874 is similarly reproduced in the Internet Archive. From its beginning, RCCL included catalogs, from British publishers as well as U.S. publishers with London offices or partners. While this has not yet been confirmed, it is likely that the catalogs submitted by U.S. publshers concentrated on titles they expected or hoped would attract British buyers and that, consequently, the catalogs may vary from those in PTLA. Issues after 1924 remain under British copyright and Full View is not yet available on HathiTrust.

Unlike PTLA, and the major reason for the four-year interval between issues, each RCCL issue through 1932 was indexed, and the index volume was soon followed by three to nine (or more) volumes containing catalogues submitted by publishers, arranged in alphabetical order by name of firm. The indexing causes occasional anomalies: a catalogue might be submitted early for indexing by a publisher who then issued a later catalogue and submited copies of that catalogue for the alphabetted volumes, thus leading to dead index links or some titles not indexed at all. Titles were generally indexed in a single alphabetical sequence of names, titles, and subjects. With index entries running over 372,000 by 1932, errors were inevitable, and subject consistincy was difficult to maintain.

In fact, compilation in 1932 lead to re-evaluation and intense discussion within the trade, then re-orientation of the plan. The 1936 editorial announced widespread agreement that collecting and distributing catalogues should be discontinued, as should subject indexing. As a direct result, the number of contributing publishers jumped from 217 in 1932 to 652 in 1936. Quite obviously the trade valued appearance in the index far more greatly than access to full catalogs. The demise of subjects meant that the 1936 issue consisted of just two thick volumes, one an index of authors, the other of titles. This was a large change from the five volumes of 1932, occupying over two feet of shelf space. The RCCL, however, remains as enormous a resource for British publishers’ catalogs 1874-1932 as PTLA is for American catalogs.

To compile the indices offered here, the same process was followed as that devised for PTLA. The list of included publishers in each issue was downloaded, OCRed, and the result edited against the image pages. Strings were lightly edited to replace "and" in publisher's names with an "&", delete the comma in street addresses common in British format (i.e. "2, Paternoster Row" became "2 Paternoster Row"), and abbreviated words generally spelled out. Each issue placed an "Advertisement" (later termed "Editorial") just before the list, and these have been retained. Generally formulaic, they often contain useful details pertinent to the volume. Spans of years - e.g, "1874-1913" - are inclusive.

When both initials and a full form of name appeared in a span of years, the fuller form has been preferred. Changing designations such as "Co.", "& Co.", "& Son", "Inc.", or "Ltd." have been retained. Incidental changes, such as "Jones, Smith W., Co." in one year and "Jones (Smith W.) Co." in another, have not been retained as the index format varied in these stylistic details from year to year (and was not always entirely consistent even within a year).

To produce the summaries, the issue lists were re-alphabeted largely as dictated by Microsoft Word paragraph-ordering rules, modified in some cases to put individual names before partnerships and original and successor firms in chronological order. A final alphabetting reviewed firm names that begin "Mc", "Mac", "O'", "St.", etc.

The Project acknowledges with gratitude the assistance of the University of Michigan which provided digitized versions of its run of RCCL available in HathiTrust and for providing a digital copy of the List of Contributors and Advertisers (LCA), still in copyright, for 1928; the University of Illinois for lending their copies of the 1932 and 1936 volumes so the LCA could be extracted from them; and to the InterLibrary Loan Department, particularly Patricia Baird, Supervisor, of the University of Iowa Libraries.

Last revised: 23 October 2021