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From Book Owners Online

Book Owners Online is a directory of historical book owners, with information about their libraries, and signposts to further sources. It currently has entries for over 1800 British owners of the 17th and 18th centuries, and is being expanded. Feedback from users is welcome, via the site or our Facebook group.

Sir William Dugdale: etching by Wenceslaus Hollar, 1656 (detail)

Book owners played an essential role in creating the documentary heritage we value today. Our libraries, curating our collective printed and written memory, were built on countless donations or purchases from individuals over the centuries. Books which they kept and valued have significantly shaped ideas about our literary legacy.

Key questions which BOO seeks to answer include “did this person own books?”, "how many and what kind?", "what happened to them?", and “where do I look for more information?”. At a time of growing interest in provenance studies, private libraries, and work on the material book, it fills a gap in our book historical reference sources. There are many online sites which start from books or libraries and provide provenance data, but BOO starts with owners.

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