Poole's Index to Periodical Literature is the first systematic article level index to the subject matter of 19th century periodicals.
Originally published in six volumes between 1882 and 1908, the Index began in 1848 as the project of Yale student, William Frederick Poole. Poole observed that libraries hold collections of periodicals which receive little use because their content is not known. Through the application of subject indexing, Poole was able to dramatically increase access to periodical literature, greatly facilitating the research process.
In 1876, Poole was approached by the American Library Association, and persuaded to produce a new edition of his index, with the assistance William Fletcher, Librarian of Amherst College, and the library community in North America and the UK.
When the final volume was released in 1908, the Index had covered 482,000 articles and 378,000 subjects in 12,241 volumes of 479 British and American periodicals for the years 1802-1906.
Written by Jessica Boyer, Phillips Library, St Mary's University