The Bibliographical Society of America (BSA) is the oldest scholarly society in North America dedicated to the study of books and manuscripts as physical objects. It was organized in 1904 and incorporated in 1927 with the principal objectives of promoting bibliographical research and issuing bibliographical publications. These objectives have been and continue to be accomplished through a broad array of activities, including meetings, lectures, and fellowship programs, as well as the publishing of books and the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America (PBSA), North America’s leading bibliographical journal. The Society is open to all those interested in bibliographical problems and projects, and its membership includes bibliographers, librarians, professors, students, booksellers, and collectors worldwide. Libraries are welcome as institutional members (see the Society’s by-laws.)
The majority of the Society’s members are from the United States and Canada, but most European countries, Japan, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand are also represented, together with institutions in Brazil, India, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe.
Annual membership dues (January to December only) are $65 for individuals, $100 for institutions, $100 for contributing membership, $250 for sustaining membership, and $1,250 for a personal life membership. Student membership is $20 annually and is available to undergraduates and graduate students, with proof of eligibility. All members receive a subscription to the quarterly PBSA and discounts on the Society’s other publications. Further information about the Society may be obtained from:
Michèle E. Randall, Executive Director
Bibliographical Society of America
P.O. Box 1537, Lenox Hill Station
New York, NY 10021
Telephone/fax: (212) 452-2710
To print out a membership form for mailing, click here.
The Society holds its annual meeting each January in New York City. The meeting consists of a session of three papers delivered by New Scholars on their current research, a business meeting, an address by an invited speaker, and a reception. Recent speakers have included: Adrian Johns, “The Uses of Print in the History of Science”; Bettina Wagner, “Collecting, Cataloguing, and Digitizing Incunabula at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Munich”; David Pearson, “Books as History: Changing Values in a Digital Age”; and Owen Gingerich, “Researching The Book Nobody Read: Copernicus’s De revolutionibus.”
The Society sponsors its own conferences, as well as joint meetings with allied organizations, and panels and speakers at other societies’ conferences, in the United States and abroad. Past conferences include “Poetry and Print in Early America” (Worcester, 2012); “Reading in the White House” (Washington, D.C., 2010); “Book Catalogues: Tomorrow and Beyond” (New York, 2008); and “Roughing It: Printing and the Press in the West” (St. Louis, 2004).
Fellowships & Prizes
The Society funds short-term fellowships of one or two months to support bibliographical projects as well as research in the history of the book trades and in publishing history. In addition, it sponsors the New Scholars Program, which funds early-career scholars to deliver papers on bibliographical topics at a forum immediately preceding the BSA annual meeting. The Society also awards the William L. Mitchell Prize for Bibliography or Documentary Work on Early British Periodicals or Newspapers; the Justin G. Schiller Prize for Bibliographical Work in Pre-20th Century Children’s Books, and the St. Louis Mercantile Library Prize in American Bibliography. Further information on fellowship programs and prizes is available on the website.
The Society maintains an active publishing program and is responsible for many landmark bibliographical publications. Among these are Joseph Sabin’s Bibliotheca Americana, continued by Eames and Vail (1936), Margaret Stillwell’s second and Frederick Goff’s third census of Incunabula in American Libraries (1940, 1964), as well as the Supplement to Goff (1972), and C. U. Faye’s and W. H. Bond’s Supplement to the Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada (1962). The Society also supervised preparation and publication of the Bibliography of American Literature (1955–1991).
Most recently it has published Karen Nipps’s Lydia Bailey: A Checklist of Her Imprints (2013). A full list of titles in print is available on the website; a growing number of these publications can be found online through the ACLS Humanities E-Book. Society members receive a discount on monographs and on subscription to HEB.
Since 1907 the Society has published the distinguished quarterly journal Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America. PBSA features articles and reviews on a rich variety of bibliographical and book history topics, including printing, binding, publication, distribution, collecting, and textual analysis. Subscription to the journal is available only through membership in the Bibliographical Society of America.