The McGill Library’s Chapbook Collection digitization project began in 2011. Over nine hundred British and American chapbooks published between 1780 and 1878 from the Rare Books and Special Collections have been digitized. For the purpose of this digitization project, the following definition of a chapbook by G. A. Glaister has been used:

a paper-covered booklet costing a penny or so, as sold by travelling hawkers (chapmen) who included bundles of them with the buttons, threads, laces and so on which they carried from village to village. Chapbooks were usually about 6 in. by 4 in., had up to twenty-four pages illustrated with crude but lively wood cuts, and had a decorated cover title.

The digitization project will widen scholarly study and public awareness about chapbooks. The Library hopes to have a prototype website available by the summer of 2013. The resulting resource will provide page images, searchable PDFs and TEI-encoded texts.

This project was made possible through a generous donation from the Harold Crabtree Foundation.

For more information about the project, you can visit the project’s blog.