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Format: Full Image
Media: More than 7,000 reels of microfilm; more than 108,000 microfiche
Coverage Dates: 1375-1985
Sources Covered: More than 100,000

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The OWL Collections, previously known as the OmniSys Collections, boast a significant number of titles including incunabula and brittle books unavailable elsewhere but available through UMI on microfilm and microfiche.  The OWL (OmniSys World Literature) Collections contain close to 100,000 titles from China, England, France, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, America & 13 other countries and cover a wide range of subjects, including drama, literature, exploration, science and religion.

The OWL Collections uncover new paths for research.  The OWL Collection Italian Books Before 1601 played a key role in Anna Klosowska's forthcoming book, Madeleine de l'Aubespine. Poems. (University of Chicago Press, Other Voice in Early Modern Europe Series. General eds. Albert Rabil and Margaret King. Forthcoming, 2007), which contains excerpts from Renaissance texts in the microfilm collection, Italian Books Before 1601.

Dr. Klosowska has discovered new manuscripts containing works by this forgotten Renaissance woman poet, who also translated Ovid and Ariosto. In Dr. Klosowska's words, "Italian Books Before 1601 was the most convenient way to access Renaissance editions of Ovid and Ariosto".

Click on the links below to read more about each OWL Collection.

Chinese Culture Series
Victorian Fiction
English & American Drama (19th–20th Centuries)
Folklore (Literature of Folklore)
French Books before 1601
French Books 1601–1700
French Drama (15th-20th Centuries)
Trois théâtres de Paris: A Collection of Eighteenth-and Nineteenth-Century Drama
French Revolutionary Pamphlets
Italian Books before 1601
Italian Books 1601-1700
Italian Drama
Hispanic Culture Series
Latin American Travels
Revistas Hispano-Americanas
Spanish Drama
Scandinavian Books before 1701
The Medieval Manuscripts of Carolina Rediviva: C Collection
Russian Books before 1701
Eighteenth-Century Russian Publications
Books Printed in the Low Countries before 1601
Latin American Documents 1960-1974
Jesuit Relations of New France 1601-1800

Chinese Culture Series

This series contains rare editions, many xylographic, of Chinese classics, including early editions of the poems of Tu Fu (712-770 A.D.), an early Ch'ing Dynasty imprint of the famous novel Shui hu chuan, a collection of the works of Lu Yun (265-303 A.D.) and the collected works of T'ang poet Wei Ying-wu (c. 735-835 A.D.).

101 titles
38 reels 35mm

Victorian Fiction
This series of fiction published in the English language between 1837 and 1921 was originally based on Michel Sadlier’s Nineteenth-Century Fiction, A Bibliographical Record (1951).  Titles have also been selected from Robert Lee Wolff’s Nineteenth-Century Fiction: A Bibliographical Catalogue (1981). Read more about the Victorian Fiction collection.

Click here to view the complete title list.

MARC Records available for the entire collection!

English & American Drama
(19th–20th Centuries)
The over 7,000 plays in this collection of major English-language dramatic literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were selected from standard literary histories and bibliographic works such as the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, vol. III. The current collection contains material in the public domain printed after 1800, plus a few texts printed in the last 75 years that have never been copyrighted.

7,030 titles
13,538 microfiche

French Books before 1601

The French Books before 1601 collection boasts over 500 reels of fifteenth and sixteenth century books from printing centers such as Lyons and Paris, as well as unique works from lesser known presses. Drawn from the Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in France and of French Books Printed in Other Countries from 1470 to 1600 now in the British Museum, the collection includes many superbly illustrated Livres d'Heures--the uncontested best-sellers of the late medieval trade in books. The sixteenth century is represented by books produced by Robert Estienne, Simon de Colines and other important printers who worked with the finest type designers in printing history.

Click here to view the complete title list
2,745 titles
530 reels

French Books 1601–1700– New Units!
The seventeenth century was a period of magnificent literary achievement – the time of Molière, Corneille and Racine.  The finest editions of books were institutional publications, largely published by the State and this collection contains many of these books printed by the Imprimerie Royale (also known as the Typographia Regia, established in 1639-1640 for Louis XIII.)  Other significant works in the collection include Racine's Athalie, printed in 1691 by Denys Thierry, many works by well-known writers and a wealth of fascinating lesser-known publications. This continuing series is based on V.F. Goldsmith's A Short-Title Catalog of French Books 1601-1700, supplemented by other seventeenth century French books.  The geographical boundaries are those of France today.

Click here to view the Series II-Unit I Reel Guide

752 titles
231 reels

French Drama
(15th-20th Centuries)

  • MARC now available!

This collection spans six centuries of French Drama: it boasts single titles and complete works, as well as stage adaptations and translations. The collection also encompasses poems and prose pieces intended for dramatic presentation.  Some of the notable titles in the French Drama collection include an early edition of L’habitant de la Guadeloupe (1796) —one of the six plays staged by Louis-Sebastien Mercier in the provinces or at Boulevard theatres because of the Comédie-Française’s opposition.  The collection contains canonical plays by Molière and Alexandre Dumas, père, such as Antony (1831) as well as rare plays, such as the L’ogresse, ou un mois au Pérou (1843) and Le Calife de Bagdad (1829). A few of the contemporary authors featured are Jean-Paul Sartre, Marcel Aymé, Henry de Montherlant, and Françoise Sagan. The publication of such a large body of French drama in microform offers a wealth of research opportunities.       

14,403 titles
30,727 microfiche

Click here to view the free French Drama online collection guide

Trois Théâtres de Paris:
A Collection of Eighteenth-and Nineteenth-Century Drama
(Sub-collection of French Drama)
This collection of 736 plays is part of a repertory that amused all classes of Paris society during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  Included are the most successful types of plays  produced at the time, such as:

  • Mélodrame: (plays  combining tragic, often historic,  events with comic interludes, using song and dance)
  • Comédie-vaudeville: (plays drawing subjects from ordinary life and using familiar tunes with new words)
  • Féerie: (escapist fairy-tale plays which used all of the theater’s resources and were considered “grand spectacles”)

All of the plays in this collection were performed at the Porte-Saint-Martin, Gâité and Ambigu-Comique theaters. The theaters, which specialized in purely popular entertainment, were located within the Boulevard du Temple region of Paris. The plays are sorted by theater and alphabetically by author.        

Plays performed at the Porte-Saint-Martin (from French Drama, 1997 Edition), 160 Fiche  
Plays performed at the Gaîté (from French Drama, 1998 Edition), 318 Fiche   
Plays performed at the Ambigu-Comique (from French Drama, 1999 Edition), 285 Fiche  

Note: These plays were filmed under an exclusive contract between OmniSys Corporation and the Department of Special Collections and Archives, The Milton S. Eisenhower Library at The Johns Hopkins University.

French Revolutionary Pamphlets
The pamphlets have been selected from the Talleyrand Collection at the New York Public Library, the Melvin Collection of the University of Kansas, the Library of Congress and the British Library, as well as other libraries and private collections.  The ultimate aim is to publish on microfiche all pamphlets in A. Martin and G. Walter's Catalogue de l'histoire de la Révolution Française, 1936-1955.         

17,691 titles
19,148 microfiche

Italian Books before 1601

Anna Klosowska's forthcoming book, Madeleine de l'Aubespine. Poems (University of Chicago Press, Other Voice in Early Modern Europe Series. General eds. Albert Rabil and Margaret King. Forthcoming, 2007), contains excerpts from Renaissance texts in the microfilm collection, "Italian Books Before 1601". Dr. Klosowska  has discovered new manuscripts containing works by this forgotten Renaissance woman poet, who also translated Ovid and Ariosto. In Dr. Klosowska's words, "Italian Books Before 1601 was the most convenient way to access Renaissance editions of Ovid and Ariosto".

Titles in this series have been selected from, but not restricted to, the Short-Title Catalog of Books Printed in Italy and of Italian Books Printed in Other Countries from 1470 to 1600, now in the British Museum. The series includes incunabula and sixteenth-century books in all fields printed in Venice, Rome, Padua and other printing centers. Included are works from authors such as: Dante Aligheri, Thomas Aquinas, Andrea Bacci, Michelangelo Biondo, Piedro Borghi, Matteo Bosso and Francesco Petrarca.

Click here to view the complete title list


3,199 titles
737 reels

Italian Books 1601-1700
This series is based on Michael, Répertoire des ouvrages imprimés en langue italienne au XVII-ième siècle, although other bibliographies were used. It includes books in all fields, but primarily consists of source books and basic editions for textual studies. Included are works from authors such as: Antonio Abati, Alessandro Alessi, Giovanni Battista della Porta, Bartolomeo Castelli, Pietro Castelli, Bonaventura Cavalieri, Girolamo Fabrizio, Benedetto Menzini Francesco Redi.

460 titles
131 reels

Italian Drama
This collection of Italian plays from the Renaissance to the present is based on the standard Italian bibliographies of literature and theater. It also includes marionette plays, opera libretti, conventional comedy and tragedy, pageants, radio and cinema scripts. Included are works from authors such as: Angelo Anelli, Giovanni Barlocci, Francesco Silvani, Bernardino Lombardi, Girolamo Frisari, Domenico Lalli, Giuseppe Foppa, Pietro Chiari and Nicollò Machiavelli.

4,130 titles
262 reels

Hispanic Culture Series

Included in this collection are Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American books from the 15th to 17th centuries, largely based upon such sources as Simon Díaz, Bibliografía de la literatura española (1950-57) and Short-Title Catalogues of Spanish, Spanish-American and Portuguese Books Printed Before 1601, in the British Museum (1966).  Includes belletristic writings, critical and scientific works in all fields.

Click here to view the complete title list

2,373 titles
614 reels.

Latin American Travels
This collection contains books and pamphlets, histories and official documents and reports, as well as tour guides, personal memoirs, travel journals and diaries.  Although the majority of the materials date from the 19th century, the collection includes material from the periods of European discovery and exploration (such as The Discoverie of the Large, Rich and Beautiful Empyre of Guiana, (1596), Sir Walter Raleigh) to many publications from the early to mid 20th century.  Sample titles include:

  • Evans, Albert S., Our Sister Republic: A Gala Trip through Tropical Mexico in 1869-1870
  • Palmer, Frederick, Central America and its Problems (1910)
  • Acosta, José de [1539-1600], Historia natural y moral de las Indias, escrita por el p. Joseph de Acosta, de la Compañía de Jesús, Madrid (1894)

Writers include explorers, scientists, academics, diplomats, missionaries, archaeologists and private citizens.  Materials cover Mexico, Latin America, the Caribbean and occasionally California.

1,755 titles
257 reels.

In Spanish, French, English, Latin and German

Revistas Hispano-Americanas
This completed series contains 19th and 20th century Latin American journals in Spanish, Portuguese, French and English. Titles were selected initially from Sturgis E. Leavitt's Revistas Hispano-Americans, Indice bibliográfico, 1843-1935.

Click here to view the title list.

112 titles
393 reels

In Spanish, Portuguese, French and English

Spanish Drama
(Sixteenth century through the present)
This collection records Spanish, Catalonian and South American plays from the 16th century to the present. Titles have been selected to the present from the printed catalogs of the great national libraries of the United States, England and France, as well as from specialized catalogs of Spanish drama collections at Oberlin, Wayne State, North Carolina, Toronto and elsewhere. Lawrence S. Thompson’s A Bibliography of Spanish Plays on Microcards (Hamden, Conn., Shoestring Press, 1968) lists titles in the 1959-1966 collection. Catalog cards are not available for the 1959-1963 groups.

Click here to view the complete title list

9,005 titles
24,859 microfiche

Scandinavian Books before 1701
This series contains Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic imprints from the late fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries. Many important Bibles, scientific treatises and official documents, secular plays and maps are included along with other materials in several European languages. When completed, virtually all Swedish titles from Collijn's two bibliographies, Sveriges bibliografi, intill ar 1600-talet and Sveriges bibliografi, 1600-talet will be available. Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic books included are based on titles in Nielsen's Dansk Bibliografi, 1482-1500, 1551-1600; Bruun's Bibliografi danica (1482-1830); and Pettersen's Bibliotheca Norvegica (1643-1813).

3,296 titles
479 reels

The Medieval Manuscripts of Carolina Rediviva: C Collection
From the University of Uppsala Library, Sweden
This rich collection, largely consisting of medieval material, constitutes two thirds of the complete C Collection and includes 512 volumes.  A large portion of the volumes in the collection come from the monastic library at Vadstena, which was built in 1384 and rapidly developed into the largest and most influential monastery in Sweden.  The period from c.1375-c.1530 is remarkable for the artistic and literary activities of the Bridgettine nuns at Vadstena.  Several nuns were assiduous scribes, developing a characteristic handwriting with a broad pen and vigorous perpendicular strokes. Although generally their manuscripts were unadorned, occasional manuscripts were decorated with collage miniatures in a style showing English influence.  These manuscripts contain a wealth of information concerning the medieval history of Sweden, with a great deal of material on St. Birgitta and her order.

The collection also includes a similar group of manuscripts from the monastery of the Franciscan priory in Stockholm. Other material in the collection consists of booty from Germany and Poland captured during the Thirty Years' War.  Of this material, the manuscripts from the Episcopal Library in Frauenberg are probably the most important, with some of them beautifully illuminated. Although religion is a major theme of this collection, the material included is diverse in scope, including medicine, astronomy, law, philosophy and history.  Practically all of the classical writers known and studied in the Middle Ages, from Aristotle to Virgil, are represented, as are most Medieval Latin writers of stature.

Includes catalog ("Handskrifter Katalog C - Codices medii ævi latini etc." and "Avskriften avaluted - hela C-katalogen Augusti 1950") on one reel of microfilm.

243 reels

In Swedish, German, Danish, Dutch and English, Various Languages

Russian Books before 1701
This series consists of the surviving books printed in Russia before Peter the Great. Nearly all of the titles were recorded by the late Mme. Antonia Zernova in her Knigi kirillovskoi pechati izdannye v Moskve v XVI-XVII vekakh.  The catalog cards have a Romanized main entry, while the descriptive portion has been reproduced photographically from the Zernova bibliography.

506 titles
319 reels

Eighteenth-Century Russian Publications
This series is based on the Svodnyi katalog russkoi knigi grazhdanskoi pechati XVIII veka 1725-1800, the definitive bibliography of 18th-century Russian books.  Many titles were in damaged or deteriorating condition when they were filmed.  The catalog cards have a Romanized main entry, while the descriptive portion has been reproduced photographically from the catalog.

5,900 titles
918 reels

Literature of Folklore – New Units!

This extensive collection, originally based on "Literaturverzeichnis" of the Handworterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens, includes monographs as well as periodicals and serials.  It covers Latin American, Spanish, American, African, German and other national and ethnic folklore.

Click here to view the complete title list


3,646 titles
902 reels

Books Printed in the Low Countries before 1601
Important titles in all fields have been selected primarily from the Short-Title Catalog of Books Printed in the Netherlands and Belgium, and of Dutch and Flemish Books Printed in other Counties from 1470-1600, now in the British Museum. Humanistic literature from famous presses, early critical editions of classical writers and popular literature are some of the major subjects in this collection.

2,565 titles
544 reels

Also included are early editions of the Bible in the original languages, the Latin vulgate and translations into the vernacular.

Latin American Documents, 1960 - 1974 
This collection is based on the Inter-American Review of Bibliography “Recent Books” section and the National Union Catalog. Latin American Documents is an impressive selection of contemporary literature on Latin America, with topics ranging from economics to poetry to human rights to science. Sample titles include:

  • Marco Tulio Zeledón, El Acta de independencia de Centro América, a la luz del derecho y la razón, San José, Costa Rica (1967)
  • Renato Almeida, Danses africaines en Amérique Latine, (1969
  • Arturo Castillo Flores, Historia de la moneda de Honduras, (1974)

Click here to view the complete title list.
10,231 titles
1,207 reels

This is an extensive collection of Canadian travel and historical literature covering the periods of exploration and discovery up to the 20th Century. All titles are accounts within the present boundaries of Canada.

Click here to view the complete title list.
912 titles
196 reels 35mm

Jesuit Relations of New France, 1601 - 1800
Reuben Gold Thwaites, for a number of years superintendent of the Wisconsin Historical Society, edited 73 volumes of The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of The Jesuit Missionaries in New France in 1610–1791. This set is a prime source for the history of Canada in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is indispensable for general studies of North America in the colonial period and records manners, customs and traditions of the northern tribes of American Indians from a period for which there are few other records.
Part of the Canadiana collection
In French, Latin, Italian & English Translations

Click here to view the complete title list.

9 reels

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