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Hamnet is the online catalog of the Folger Shakespeare Library's collection. It contains hundreds of thousands of records for books, manuscripts, prints, DVDs, objects, e-resources, and other material, but does not describe everything in the collection. Many manuscripts, for example, are instead described in online finding aids, and other materials are still only described in the card catalogs and other paper-based resources.


Hamnet debuted in 1997. The name was chosen through a competition open to staff and readers, and evokes both Shakespeare ("Hamnet" was the name of his son, "Hamlet" is one of his best-known plays) and the Internet (often called just "the Net" in the 1990s).

Technical information

Hamnet records are encoded in MARC (which stands for "MAchine-Readable Cataloging"), a data format developed at the Library of Congress in the late 1960s that quickly became the international standard for libraries. All MARC fields searchable from the "Advanced" tab in Hamnet are listed in Folgerpedia's List of keyword search fields in Hamnet and their associated MARC codes.

Using Hamnet

The following tips and tricks can be useful when using Hamnet. Always keep in mind, though, that standards and practices for catalog records have changed over time, that many records were created by re-keying old cards, and that people make mistakes. See Hamnet database maintenance for a running list of known problems that are in the queue to be fixed.

For researchers

General tips

"Searching in Hamnet" Folgerpedia article

Hamnet's own Help Page

Setting limits

Folger Tooltips: The limits of “Set Limits” in Hamnet (Collation post)

Getting a URL for a search

Folger Tooltips: Hamnet URLs, part 1 (Collation post)

Folger Tooltips: Hamnet URLs, part 2 (Collation post)

Getting raw data

Folger Tooltips: Getting raw Hamnet data (Collation post)

Specific material tips

Folger Tooltips: Hamnet access to e-books, part one (Collation post)

Comic books and graphic novels

Manuscripts: In Hamnet, to limit search to manuscripts, search “material type” = “manuscript” under advanced search, or set date and material type limits under “set limits.”


For catalogers

List of keyword search fields in Hamnet and their associated MARC codes