UCL Centre for Digital Humanities


UCLDH and DIS Research Seminar: Discovering 'minor material'

08 June 2016, 12:00 pm–1:00 pm


Event Information

Open to



G31, Foster Court, UCL, Malet Place, WC1E 7JG

Discovering 'minor material'. On the trail of early printed broadsheets in archives and libraries

Since the early modern age, printed broadsheets and single-sheet items have been media of versatile content: occasional literature, such as funeral and nuptial orations; celebration of public or private events; short polemic texts and propaganda, as it occurred during the Reformation; texts intended for entertainment, comprising ballads, poems, and short stories. These could be intended for circulation among a target audience, for posting up, or as official communication or statement. This sort of cheap print was once a large part of the production of the printing presses. Despite their relevance as historical sources and as printed objects as well, access to such resources is still undermined by several issues. Fundamental to the existing situation for description and access is the variety of places in which they have been conserved; in this, the status of broadsheets differs sharply from that of other printed matter. What is left of a flourishing printing business is very often a series of unique or very rare copies, which are more likely to have found their way onto the shelves of an archive, or a museum even, than a library. Cataloguing practices for archival material have different purposes from the strictly bibliographical and follow to date different rules accordingly.

In this seminar Dr Flavia Bruni aims to provide an overview of descriptive practices for single-sheet items focusing on inconsistencies between libraries and archives and between different countries. This will highlight the need for a campaign of description based on the principles of data sharing and interoperability to promote a wider access to such resources.


Flavia Bruni is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Sapienza University of Rome and a Honorary Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews. She has a Master in History of the Reformation from the Sapienza University of Rome, a Master in Early Printed Books from the University of Siena, a PhD from Bologna and the diploma from the Vatican Library School. She has worked for the bibliography of sixteenth-century Italian books Edit16, the Italian collective catalogue SBN, the project on broadsheets of the Inquisition of the Biblioteca Casanatense of Rome and the RICI on sixteenth-century booklists of Italian religious houses. She is responsible for the survey of seventeenth-century Italian editions for the Universal Short Title Catalogue and currently working on her second monograph on censorship in Counter-Reformation Italy (forthcoming Brill, 2017).