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   Volume IV, Issue 3
February 2008   

The Making of the Modern World: Facsimile images from 1450 through 1850

The Making of the Modern World: Goldsmiths'-Kress Library of Economic Literature 1450-1850 consists of digital facsimile images of 61,000 works published from 1450 through 1850.

Full-text searching of 12 million pages gives researchers unparalleled access to this vast collection of material on commerce, finance, social conditions, politics, trade and transport. The collection contains digital replicas of two important print collections, from the Goldsmiths’ Library of the University of London and the Baker Library of the Harvard Business School.

"A portrait of a traitor, by his friends and by himself." Political cartoon from The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, or Monthly Politique and Literary Censor. London 1798.

The collection covers a wide variety of topics. The classics of economic thought, such as the works of Adam Smith and Karl Marx are well represented, but the reader will also find a wealth of ephemera such as Martin Luther’s sermon on usury, published in 1520.

The Making of the Modern World includes a digitized copy of the original German edition of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, published in London in 1848. It also includes works of Marx’s contemporary Etienne Cabet, the founder of the Icarian movement, from whom Marx supposedly borrowed the word “communist.”

Subject matters related to economics are well covered. A good example is the South Sea Bubble, the speculative frenzy that swept across Europe in the early eighteenth century.

A subject search for South Sea Company returns 433 titles. The reader soon discovers that the South Sea Company did most of its business in the Atlantic slave trade.

The Making of the Modern World is a valuable resource for researchers interested in the slave trade or the abolition movement. A subject search for “antislavery movements,” “abolitionists” or “slavery” retrieves works by well known historical figures such as Angelina Grimke, Harriet Martineau and Anthony Benezet.

Pamphlets and broadsides add to the appeal of the collection. Price lists and catalogs ranging from the wine prizes set by King Charles II to the 1841 catalog of the Cast-iron Hollow-ware Foundry in Philadelphia can also be found.

Consulting these collections outside the walls of the Goldsmiths’ and Baker libraries became possible first with the publication of a microfilm set in 1972. Villanova University faculty and students who wanted to consult the collection had to visit the University of Delaware, which was the nearest location with a copy of the microfilm set. Now you can access it on your desktop.


Contributed by Jutta Seibert