The Folger Shakespeare Library
STC holdings for the sixteenth century: some 5,000 titles
- Quarto plays by Shakespeare, Lyly, and Marlowe
- Part books and collections of music by Byrd, Morley, Tallis and others
- Catholic books of hours and missals printed in England or in Paris for English consumption
- English books in multiple editions and copies
- School books, including editions of Lyly’s grammar
- Parliamentary records from England and Scotland
- Hundreds of royal and Parliamentary proclamations
- Foreign books in the original or in translation.
Biblical Paraphrases and Commentaries
Sixteenth-century English and Continental paraphrases of books of the Bible as well as commentaries on specific books may be found in the card catalog under the name of each book.
German and Swiss Reformation
One of the most important and largest sixteenth century collections at the Folger is that of Reformation literature. It includes groups of Luther tracts and about 300 Luther items from Sir Thomas Phillipps\u2019 Collection, as well as 850 Reformation items from the Swiss collector, Emanuel Stickelberger. Reformers, besides Luther, whose works are represented include Bucer, Bullinger, Calvin, Erasmus, Hutten, Melanchthon, and Zwingli.
About 250 sixteenth-century sermons, European and English, some from the Reformation collection. These are easily identified in the card catalog with a chronological listing under “sermons.”
Chronicles and Travel Books
Highlights include the 1550 Mappe Mundi published in London; Schedel’s 1497 Chronicles; chronicles by Fabyian, Grafton, Hall and Holinshed; Braun and Hogenberg’s Cities of the World (1595); sixteenth-century atlases by Peter Appian, Mercator, Muenster, Norden, Ortelius, Ptolemy and Saxton; books of travel by Alberti, Bertelli, Biondo Flavio, Corrozet, Signot and others of Italy and France.
Continental political pamphlets are an important resource held by the Folger, but are not well known because many of them are not cataloged. These include over 100 sixteenth-century Dutch pamphlets, many from the Knuttel Catalog; as well as over 400 French political pamphlets, and about 100 German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish.
The Folger’s substantial collection of festival books includes at least 40 from the sixteenth century.
Over 100 sixteenth-century herbals, some of which are hand-colored.
Close to 500 editions of plays printed in Italy in the sixteenth century, as well as many editions of Ariosto and other Italian poets, and Italian courtesy books and travel books.
A number of books by and about women, including collections of poetry by Italian women writers; books of poetry praising women; Italian, French, and German conduct books for women; mothers\u2019 legacies; festival books describing entries or coronations of women; books on the diseases of women; treatises on women. There are also books on embroidery patterns and tailoring, and books printed by women.
Sixteenth-century Italian artistic treatises; over 250 emblem books, at least 30 of which are sixteenth-century; engravings in books or loose by artists such as Philippe Gall, Marcus Gheeraerts, Crispijn van de Passe, Cornelis Metsys, and William Rogers.
Family Papers: Bacon-Townsend, Bagot, Cavendish-Talbot, Dering, Rich and Seymour families. Also has a number of early deeds and inventories.
Loseley Collection: papers of the More family and Sir Thomas Cawarden. Interesting documents include accounts for expenditures for plays and masques at court in the 1540s and for Elizabeth’s procession through London at the time of her coronation.
Strozzi Papers: 199 volumes of papers from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries copied for a member of the Strozzi family in the eighteenth century. Includes material on the history of the Papacy, on Venetian politics and foreign relations, and on Italian nobility. The detailed finding aid on the web provides an index to the hundreds of people mentioned in the documents.
Online Finding Aids for many of these sets of papers are available via the Folger’s online catalog.
English political and Parliamentary documents: these include a number from the reign of Elizabeth I, among them 38 documents signed by her.
Commonplace Books: many are from the seventeenth century, but sixteenth-century ones include a collection of historical papers from 1555-1577, many connected with Oxford University; a book of highly varied material kept by a Herefordshire family from 1550-1590; and another containing both ecclesiastical and medical materials.