Book Owners Online (BOO) is a directory of historical book owners, with information about their libraries, and signposts to further reference sources. It covers English seventeenth-century owners – people who died between 1610 and 1715 – with the potential to be expanded.
Book owners played an essential role in creating the documentary heritage we value today. Our libraries, curating our collective printed and written memory, were built on countless donations or purchases from individuals over the centuries. Books which they kept and valued have significantly shaped ideas about our literary legacy.
Key questions which BOO seeks to answer include “did this person own books?”, "how many and what kind?", "what happened to them?", and “where do I look for more information?”. At a time of growing interest in provenance studies, private libraries, and work on the material book, it fills a gap in our book historical reference sources. There are many online sites which start from books or libraries and provide provenance data, but BOO starts with owners.
BOO is authored by the book historian David Pearson, published by the UCL Centre for Editing Lives and Letters (CELL), and generously funded by the Bibliographical Society and the Board of Electors to the James PR Lyell Readership in Bibliography at the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library.