The Osborn Collection

Early modern British literary and historical manuscripts, including commonplace books, poetry, and grand tour diaries.
[Commonplace book, early 17th century]. Call number: Osborn b234

The Collection

A collection of early modern British literary and historical manuscripts, the Osborn collection’s strengths include commonplace books, poetry, grand tour diaries, household and estate accounts, political diplomatic correspondence, and annotated books.

Pre-1600 Manuscripts

Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts in the Osborn collection can be found in the Pre-1600 Database.

Post-1600 Manuscript Volumes and Archives

All Osborn manuscript volumes and archival collections from the seventeenth century onwards are described in Orbis, the Yale University Library's online catalog.

Osborn Manuscript Files

The Osborn collection contains a collection of some 20,000 individual items, begun as an autograph collection for handwriting identification. These items are arranged alphabetically by author in finding aids, and can be found in the Yale Finding Aid Database.

The Osborn Poetry Boxes

The Poetry Boxes collection contains several thousand individual poems, from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. A printed first-line index to the collection can be found in the Osborn Collection First-Line Index, edited by Carolyn Nelson, et. al. (Beinecke Library: Yale University Press, 2005). An online union first-line index will be available in the near future.

Annotated Books

The Osborn printed books collections contains several hundred works, primarily from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, which are of particular interest for their annotations or provenance. Catalog records for the Osborn printed books can be found in Orbis, the Yale University Library's online catalog.


Really As It Was: Writing the Life of Samuel Johnson
Starry Messenger: Observing the Heavens in the Age of Galileo
Book of Secrets: Alchemy and the European Imagination, 1500-2000

Related Material

Osborn commonplace books on Flickr

Early Modern Paleography {A blog celebrating the beauty and complexity of early modern English handwriting ranging from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries}

Dr. Johnson's Dictionary {A word-a-day dictionary from Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), in celebration of the three hundredth anniversary of Johnson’s birth in 1709}

Early Books and Manuscripts (before 1500)
Early Modern Books and Manuscripts (1500 - 1800)
Osborn Collection
Call Numbers
Osborn b234
[Author,] [Title.] James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University


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