A comprehensive bibliographic guide, the Bibliography of American Literature (BAL) provides nearly 40,000 records of the literary works of approximately 300 American writers.
The Bibliography of American Literature is renowned for the accuracy and extent of its publication details, which list every reprint and variant edition of an author's works, including obscure and fugitive appearances in anthologies, broadsides, and gift books. It also includes details on bindings and physical features of the editions.
BAL originally appeared in nine volumes, published for the Bibliographical Society of America by Yale University Press between 1955 and 1991. Jacob Blanck, the project's originator and primary architect, compiled the basic data for all volumes and saw Volumes 1 to 6 through to publication. After Blanck's death in 1974, Volume 7 was completed and edited for publication by Virginia L. Smyers and Michael Winship, Volumes 8 and 9 by Michael Winship alone.
All nine volumes of BAL are fully searchable together. BAL divides each author's list of works into sections, including Principal Works, Reprints, and References. For each primary book listed, a title-page transcription is provided, together with details of the pagination, collation, binding (including cloth grain), and publication history. The location of at least one copy is given, as well as a selected list of bibliographical and biographical works.