This project represents a continuation of research conducted by David A. Rawson, the compiler and editor here, for his 1998 doctoral dissertation at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.
The use of digital technologies in scholarly research was in its early days then, allowing only for building a basic database of imprint records found in the newly-available online catalogues of university libraries and archival repositories. While the resulting database was a key part of that dissertation, it did not allow for an understanding of the people involved in their production. So to place those individuals in their proper historical context, to make them more than just a bare name on the printed page, further research was necessary.
The mode employed here to present that extensive research was influenced by the inherent contrast between the flexibility of digital publishing and the inflexibility of printed books. All reference books, regardless of their quality or extent, are works that are essentially obsolete the moment they are published. A fixed physical form precludes any updating or correcting of them as new material is uncovered. However, by employing a digital format for such a resource, the work becomes a publication that can be updated regularly.
This Index of Virginia Printing has been conceived as just such an updateable reference.
Most of those long-standard reference works are limited by their focus as well, being simple bibliographic listings, so lacking biographical, geographical, and temporal context. In building three interconnected, relational databases, this Index is intended to link those who worked in the early Virginia print trade with the locales where they worked, the people they associated with, and the imprints that they produced or distributed.
Bibliographic projects, such as this, require that one collect many small pieces of information from an even larger number of sources, both primary and secondary, before synthesizing them into a coherent entry. The details of that process are described in the large PDF documents that are linked below.
The Scope & Methodology used in compiling this Index is explained here.
A Master Bibliography of the sources consulted for this Index is detailed here.
A description of this web-site's construction can be seen in this PDF document, being a copy of the final report filed by its builders – Courtney Davis and Leo Bowen-Biggs – as a requirement of their senior-year "Major Qualifying Project" at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (2018).
Index of Virginia Printing by Dr. David Rawson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.