Manuscript cataloging

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Most Folger manuscripts are described in the Catalog and/or described in Finding aids (sometimes directly as individual items, sometimes indirectly as part of a group or collection). New acquisitions usually only have an accession-level "Preliminary" record in the catalog. In general, manuscript cataloging follows the same guidelines as other vault material. This article provides instructions specific to manuscripts, including particular types of manuscripts.

Call numbers

Folger manuscripts have been classified according to a number of different call number schemes over the years. Some of these remain as no-longer-added-to legacies, others have been replaced. Starting in 2014, call numbers that have been replaced display in the catalog as "Former call number."


The Folger is particularly interested in the physicality of early modern letters. Where applicable, make the following notes:

Closure evidence:

  • Seal slits visible
  • Seal holes visible
  • Secured with silk floss ([color])
  • Seal is [color other than red]
  • Seal is embedded with wire
  • Evidence of papered seal
  • Papered seal still intact
  • Tuck-and-seal folding
  • Pleated folding

Other physical evidence:

  • Postmarked
  • Superscription in a different hand
  • Filing holes [location]


When adding a note about physical evidence to a finding aid, see the advice on finding aid HBCNs.