Searching the online catalogue

Essential information

  • The Johnson online catalogue is incomplete. If you do not find what you are searching for, please contact the Librarian of the Collection.
  • We use our own cataloguing format (PDF, 216kb) in allegro-C. Cataloguing is detailed and accompanied by digital images wherever possible.
  • You can now search two indexes simultaneously, one index only, and you can browse.
  • Thumbnail images now display in the short and standard forms of the record.
  • You will only see the full record by clicking on Bibliographic record. If you search for Terry, Ellen, for example, her name will only appear in this (full) form of the record. The short and standard forms show selected fields only.


You can search by:

  • Keywords. These come from individual words in titles, first lines, and series.
  • Genre. We use thesauri for our genre terms. There is no one authority for forms of ephemera. We use a combination of LCTGM, RBMS, Centre for Ephemera Studies (under development) and AAT
  • Titles, first lines, series. Ephemera often have no title but we will catalogue the first line and often supply a title.
  • Names. Work is in progress to standardise our names. We use the Library of Congress Name Authority File, the DNB and other reference works. Please use all forms of names (in their inverted forms) and try Browse as well as search.
  • Subjects, products, trades This index contains subjects, subjects of illustration, trades and products. We are increasingly using LCSH for subjects of text and use LCTGM and Iconclass for subjects of illustration. All products and trades in advertisements, trade cards, bill headings, etc are indexed, without being thesaurised.
  • Place Results for place come from a variety of fields: venue, place of trading, place referred to, towns of printers, lithographers, etc. Work is in progress to standardise names of places. Places index in two forms, e.g. Theatre Royal Drury Lane Theatre, London and London, Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
  • Shelfmark identifiers Not all Johnson items have a unique shelfmark. For some, the reference will be at box level. Shelfmarks should be cited in the following form: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford: John Johnson Collection: Miniature Theatre 1 (32).
  • External reference numbers These enable you to find ESTC items (ESTC or ESTC t167306 for example), prints in the British Museum catalogue (e.g. BM 12202), bookplates in the Franks catalogue, etc.

 Please note that searches for cat, for example, will also find catalogue, cathedral, etc.


Images appear (where available) in the short and standard forms of the record, except when they are licensed to ProQuest for The John Johnson Collection, an archive of printed ephemera. This site is available free of charge in the UK to Higher and Further Education, Public Libraries and Schools.

About the Catalogue

Since 1995, we have been creating an online item-level catalogue for the John Johnson Collection. Records are as full as possible to enable cross-searching of the Collection. We use an in-house format (PDF, 216kb) within the German bibliographic database allegro-C. Images are attached wherever possible though a link from the shelfmark. A notable exception to this is material included in The John Johnson Collection: an archive of printed ephemera (ProQuest) where images are included on the ProQuest site only.

Many records have been exported to projects, which may provide further searching functionality, e.g. search screens tailored to individual sections, lightboxes, thumbnail browsing, etc. There are also two stand-alone projects: the Toyota Project (Motoring ephemera) and the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads. Please see the Projects pages for further information.

The Johnson online catalogue is incomplete. Currently there are c. 100,000 records of 1.5 million items. Indexes provide another means of ascertaining the content of the Collection.

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