I think the most concise introduction to the history of bibliography is Roberson (2001).[1] It’s a short 4 pages that contains brief reviews of the basic major works which benefit students of bibliography.

The four standard textbooks on bibliography are:[1]

1 – Ronald McKerrow’s An Introduction to Bibliography for Literary Students (1928)

2 – Ronald McKerrow’s Esdaile’s Manual of Bibliography (1931)

3 – Fredson Bowers’ Principles of Bibliographical Description (1949)

4 – Philip Gaskell’s A New Introduction to Bibliography (1974)

Conrad Gesner (1516-1565) is often considered the Father of Bibliography. Check The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America (1915) page 53 for more on him:


Cave, Roderick. “Historical Bibliographical Work: Its Role in Library Education.” Journal of Education for Librarianship, vol. 21, no. 2, 1980, pp. 109–121. JSTOR, Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

Tanselle, G. Thomas. “Bibliographical History as a Field of Study.” Studies in Bibliography, vol. 41, 1988, pp. 33–63. JSTOR, Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

Tanselle, G. Thomas. “The Arrangement of Descriptive Bibliographies.” Studies in Bibliography, vol. 37, 1984, pp. 1–38. JSTOR, Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

Tanselle, G. Thomas. “Bibliography and Science.” Studies in Bibliography, vol. 27, 1974, pp. 55–89. JSTOR, Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

Tanselle, G. Thomas. “A Description of Descriptive Bibliography.” Studies in Bibliography, vol. 45, 1992, pp. 1–30. JSTOR, Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

Skinner, Marilyn B. “Scholarly Publication: An Annotated Bibliography.” The Classical World, vol. 79, no. 3, 1986, pp. 182–184. JSTOR, Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

Winship, Michael. Libraries & Culture, vol. 32, no. 1, 1997, pp. 155–157. JSTOR, Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

Newton, A. Edward. Bibliography and Pseudo-Bibliography. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1936. JSTOR, Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.



[1] – Roberson, M. (2001). A brief history of bibliographies. Social Epistemology, 15(1), 5–8. doi:10.1080/02691720110049189

[2] – GASKELL, P., 1995, A New Introduction to Bibliography. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.


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