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Massachusetts Historical Society. 

A Paper presented at a Meeting of the Society, 

November 9, 1893, 










The management of large libraries is a science of modern 
growth, and the details have taken such shape as the needs of 
diiferent communities demanded. The founders of the Histori- 
cal Society for their work had a true estimate of the importance 
of books and other printed matter, and throughout the early 
records this sense of their appreciation is continually shown. 
The prime object of the Society, as set forth in the first para- 
graph of the Constitution, was the preservation of books, 
pamphlets, manuscripts, and records containing historical 
facts, etc. A secondary object, as announced in the next 
paragraph, was the collection of specimens in natural history 
and of curiosities generally. It is worthy of note that all the 
members, with the exception of Mr. Baylies and Dr. Belknap, 
at the second meeting of the Society, on April 9, 1791, handed 
in lists of books, pamphlets, maps, etc., which they purposed 
to give as a nucleus for a library; and two meetings later Dr. 
Belknap furnished a similar list, of which a part was to be 
considered as the payment of his fee for life-membership. 
Included in Dr. Belknap's gift are several bound volumes of 
very rare tracts marked in ink on a label pasted on the back 
" I-P," which monogram probably stands for Historical Pam- 
phlets. These several lists include many volumes, which to-day 
are exceedingly scarce, and some of them almost invaluable ; 
and I am happy to add that with some exceptions they are still 
in the Library and can easily be identified. 


The first local habitation of the Society was a single room in 
the Manufactory House, a building owned by the Massachu- 
setts Bank, and situated where Hamilton Place is now ; and 
for a year it served the purposes of a library and for the 
meetings. This room was occupied from June 30, 1791, until 
the next summer, when the books and the museum were taken 
to new quarters, an attic chamber in the northwest corner of 
Faneuil Hall. The first meeting was held here on July 31, 
1792, at which time the Library contained not far from 225 
volumes, and perhaps 500 pamphlets. Of these, as a rough 
estimate, 75 volumes and many pamphlets have not been iden- 
tified, and some, doubtless, have been lost. Most of the 
pamphlets received before July 31, 1792, were bound in 50 
volumes, of which now only 40 are known to be in the Li- 
brary. These volumes were probably added soon after the 
removal to Faneuil Hall ; and before June 11, 1794, about 225 
other volumes were received. Of these 25 contain about 200 
pamphlets, which had been given to the Library and bound in 
the latter part of the year 1792, or early in 1793. Up to June 
11, 1794, it is estimated that about 1,000 pamphlets had been 
received, of which perhaps 700 were bound in 75 volumes, as 
explained above. 

The Society continued to meet in its chamber at Faneuil 
Hall until June 11, 1794, a period of nearly two yearg, when 
it removed to the Tontine Crescent, Franklin Place, where, 
according to a deed executed on May 1, it had bought the fee 
of a large room in the upper story, over the archway which 
passed under the centre of the building. The apartment was 
forty feet in length and twenty-seven in breadth, and was 
finished at the Society's expense. At that time the Library is 
supposed to have had about 500 volumes and 300 pamphlets, 
for the most part relating to New England history, and for 
that period it was a very considerable collection of books. 
The explanation of the decrease in the number of pamphlets 
for the previous two years lies in the fact that during this period 
75 volumes, more or less, had been bound, each volume con- 
taining about ten pamphlets. For the first time the members 
owned their place of meeting, which was their home for thirty- 
nine years, until June 5, 1833. This period appears to be the 
natural cycle of the Society, as it occupied the old building on 
the present site in Tremont Street for the same term. 

The growth of the Library during the early years was slow, 
and, so far as can be learned from the Proceedings and other 
sources, there were in the year 1800 probably 1,000 volumes 
and a large number of pamphlets. In 1810, near the time of 
the preparation of the new catalogue, there may have been as 
many as 2,000 volumes ; and while numerous pamphlets had 
been received, the number was largely diminished by binding 
from time to time, each volume containing on an average ten 
pamphlets. The increase of the Library during the next two 
decades was not so marked, but at the close of the third, it is 
estimated by the Librarian, Dr. Harris, that there were : — 

Four thousand six hundred volumes of bound books. 
Four hundred and fifty-five large volumes of newspapers. 
Ninety-four folio volumes of manuscripts. 
Seventy-five smaller volumes of manuscripts. 
Twelve large volumes of charts and maps. 
Many single maps. 
Several hundred pamphlets. 

Counted Nov. 20, 1839. 

In the year 1850 the Library contained probably 6,000 vol- 
umes, and several thousand pamphlets ; and in 1860, according 
to the Treasurer's report of that year, there were, not includ- 
ing the Dowse Library, about 8,000 volumes and 13,000 pam- 
phlets. In 1870, according to the Librarian's report, there 
were then, including the Dowse Library, files of newspapers, 
and the bound manuscripts, nearly 19,000 volumes and more 
than 30,000 pamphlets ; in 1880, 26,569 volumes and 63,727 
pamphlets ; and in 1890, there were about 34,600 volumes 
and 89,739 pamphlets. 

It should be borne in mind that the room occupied by the 
Society at the outset was not kept open constantly, but was 
accessible to the members by means of the Corresponding 
Secretary's key ; and that each one on taking out a book made 
his own charge on a slate used for that purpose. Under such con- 
ditions it is not surprising that some volumes should be missing 
now from these lists ; and presumably they were lost soon after 
their receipt, as their titles do not appear in the Library cata- 
logue, which was printed in the year 1796. 

In the early days of the Society, books, manuscripts, maps, 
etc., were not so carefully guarded as they have been subse- 


quently, nor were the givers' names and the dates of accession 
so accurately kept on record. 

At the third meeting, on June 30, 1791, it was ordered that 
the Recording Secretary should procure " four hundred blanks 
of the following form : — 

and place them in the books presented to the Library." It 
will be noticed that the duty of preparing these slips devolved 
on the Recording Secretary, and not on the Librarian, who 
now would be the proper officer for such service. The order, 
as here given, was duly carried out, though a number within 
brackets was added thus [No. ], for the numeration 

of the volume, which was printed as the first line of the 
book-plate ; but the numbering does not appear ever to have 
been used. Notwithstanding the date given in the foregoing 
book-plate, the original members agreed to consider the meet- 
ing held on January 24, 1791, as the first ; and counting from 
that date the centennial anniversary was duly celebrated by 
the Society. 

Among the rules for the government of the Library, adopted 
at the fourth meeting, held on October 11, 1791, was one which 
required a book-plate — or "printed ticket," as it was then 
called — to be pasted on the inside of the cover of each 
volume, showing it to be the property of the Society ; and at 
the same time the rule required that the donor's name should 
be indicated if the book was given. With some exceptions 
this rule was not observed in both requirements for more than 
fifty years, though in many cases the name of the giver was 
written on a fly-leaf of the book, or across the titlepage, or 
else in the margin, sometimes up and sometimes down, or 
perhaps on the cover. About 1840 and for a few subsequent 
years, however, — in regard to volumes previously presented to 
the Library, — there are instances where the Librarian, by fits 

and starts, has apparently ascertained the date of gift, and duly 
recorded it on the book-plate ; but the practice even at that 
period was by no means uniform or permanent. It was during 
the second term of Mr. Felt's librarianship that the custom of 
writing on book-plates both the name of the giver and the date 
of the gift became at all general. During the past ten years 
many hundred book-plates, — perhaps two thousand, — in 
volumes for a long time in the possession of the Society, have 
been filled out with the name and date, where this record had 
been previously omitted. Not included in this number are many 
similar entries on separate pamphlets received from various 
sources, but which are now for the most part bound. Much 
time has been spent, though unsuccessfully, in trying to ob- 
tain the same facts in regard to numerous other titles. Since 
the Annual Meeting of April, 1884, with some exceptions 
during the first year, they have been indicated on the cover 
of pamphlets, with a pencil, at the time of gift. 

The use of particular book-plates furnishes a good clew as to 
the time when certain volumes were received in the Library, of 
which there is no other record. In occasional instances, for 
reasons not now clear, there are two or three book-plates pasted 
one over another, or perhaps the third one on a fly-leaf, but 
none of them written upon. In such cases it is fair to suppose 
that the earliest one indicates an approximation as to the date 
of receipt. For that reason I here present a simple statement 
of their chronological order, so far as it can be ascertained from 
the records or from their use in the various volumes. 

The first book-plate used in the Library was the one ordered 
on June 30, 1791, which is now found in less than 75 volumes, 
probably all in which it was ever placed. It follows substan- 
tially the form specified in the records ; and a reproduction in 
fac-simile is herewith given : — 


Most of these plates, printed probably on separate slips, 
appear ia books received before the summer of 1794, when 
the Society moved into the Tontiae Crescent, though a few — 
perhaps some that had been left over — were pasted in volnmes 
given as late as January 30, 1798. 

The second book-plate was struck off probably in the early 
summer of 1794, perhaps under the direction of a Committee 
appointed on April 4, 1794, to draft and report By-Laws and 
Regulations for the Society. It was a wood-cut with types 
mortised in the block. Of these plates only about 35 are 
now found, — doubtless all that were used, — and these are in 
books received for the most part before June 11, 1794. A 
very few, however, — perhaps some that were then still on 
baud, — appear later, and were last used in books reported at 
the meeting on January 30, 179S. 

This cut is rather pretentious in appearance ; and the follow- 
ing is a fac-simile : — 

It was printed probably by Belknap & Hall, at that time 
the publishers of " The American Apollo," a weekly periodical, 
in which had previously appeared a large part of the first volume 
of Collections ; and they were also the publishers of the first 
two volumes of Collections. A festoon similar to the one over 
the top of this book-plate is found in the Apollo. Joseph 


Belknap, one of the printers, was a son of Dr. Belknap, the 
principal founder of the Historical Society. 

The third book-plate closel}^ resembles the first one, and 
was printed probably in the year 1798. It was used in a few 
of the books reported at the meeting held on January 29, 1799, 
though some specimens of the plate may be seen in volumes 
given earlier. Only about 20 of these plates already inserted 
can now be found, though there are more than 175 still on hand, 
which have never been used. They were all printed on one 
slip containing three impressions, and 60 of these slips still 
remain in the Publication room. Here follows a fac-simile : — 

[NO- ] 

This Book is the Property of the 
Eftabliflied in Bofton, 1790. 


The number on these plates, as given within brackets thus 
[No. ], was probably intended for an accession number, 

and not to show the case and shelf for the location of the book, 
which were generally indicated, certainly during the earlier 
years of the Society, on a small label pasted on the back of 
the volumes. 

A fourth book-plate, differing entirely in shape and wording 
frofti the others, was printed probably in the summer of 1809, 
and contained besides '' Extracts from the laws, regulating 
the Library." These "laws," or rules, had been reported to 
the Society on May 4, 1809, and adopted at the same meeting. 
The plates were printed on a small sheet containing three 
impressions, side by side, and then cut apart as wanted for 
use, though no specimens of the three together have been 
saved ; and there are some slight typographical variations in 
each. In Volumes IV., V., and VI. of *' The Parliamentary 
Register" (London, 1776, 1777) may be seen three such 
plates, which fit together on their borders, showing that they 
once belonged to the same sheet. A similar instance is found 
in three bound volumes of miscellaneous pamphlets, marked 


on the back " American Tracts." The following are the 
titles of the first pamphlet in each volume, which I here give 
in order to identify the collection of Tracts : — 

Volume IV. Extracts from the Votes and Proceedings of the Amer- 
ican Continental Congress, . . September, 1774. . . London, 
reprinted, 1774. 

Volume II. The Plea of the Colonies, . : London, 1776. 

Volume III. An Oration in Memory of General Montgomery, . . 
February 19th, 1776. . . By William Smith. Second edition. 
London, reprinted, 1776. 

Near the top of the fourth plate is a blank space for the 
location mark of the book, which, however, was rarely desig- 
nated. These plates were pasted in the volumes over any 
of the previous ones that happened to be already inserted ; 
and their use appears to have been discontinued about 1820. 

The fifth book-plate was made, probably soon after the 
Society removed from the Tontine Crescent to the present 
site in Tremont Street, which was in March, 1833. It was 
engraved on copper by David Russell, and the impressions 
were taken on white paper. The plates were of a size simi- 
lar to those now used in the Library, and essentially the 
same in appearance and wording. They are found in many 
of the volumes received at an early period, where they have 
been pasted over other plates ; and they also appear in books 
given since 1820 or thereabouts, when the use of the preceding 
plate was discontinued, although they are found like the fourth 
plate in many volumes given earlier. 

Some time after the election of the Reverend Thaddeus M. 
Harris as Librarian, on October 26, 1837, impressions from 
the same plate were made on red-faced paper, probably about 
1839. These are found in volumes given as late as October 
16, 1846, in most cases pasted over the earlier book-plates 
already in volumes, excepting the fifth one. A new plate on 
copper, now in the possession of the Library, was probably 
made within a few weeks of that date ; and impressions from it 
on green-faced paper were printed. These book-plates were 
used during the remainder of Mr. Pelt's librarianship, and 
until September 16, 1857. On October 24 of that year, the 
first book-plate of gray paper was used ; and on March 15, 
1864, five hundred more impressions were struck off from this 

• ': *:: •*• : 


copper plate by Nathaniel Dearborn, an engraver, who had re- 
touched it. The first of these book-plates was pasted in a vol- 
ume given on April 23, 1864, and probably on that date ; and 
the last was used in October, 1866. Since that time the book- 
plates have been printed on stone by William H. Forbes & Co., 
now known as the Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Company, 
many copies at one impression, and the sheets cut up after- 
ward. The first of these was used on October 11, 1866, and 
since then very slight changes have been made from time to 
time,' as new impressions were struck off, certainly in October, 
1868, and on October 19, 1885. 

Before the year 1799 there was no record of books lent out 
as required by the By-Laws, adopted on October 11, 1791, 
that "for the present a slate and pencil shall be hung up in 
the chamber, and the person taking books shall enter on the 
slate his name, the titles of the books, and the date ; which 
the librarian, at his next visit to the chamber, shall enter in 
his book " ; but this book, if one was then kept, has not 
been found. On June 11, 1794, the '' Laws and Regulations" 
were revised ; and Article VI. of the portion relating to the 
Library was so changed that each member was required to 
" give receipts for the books which he shall take out of the 
Library, in a receipt-book to be provided for the purpose. 
For a time these entries were made on separate sheets of 
folio paper, three of which used between April 25, 1796, and 
October 19, 1799, are still preserved. On April 30, 1799, the 
Librarian was instructed to " purchase a book to be left in 
the Society's room," for members '' to give in it a receipt 
for the books which they shall take out of the Library." In 
this small volume, bound in vellum and still in the Library, 
the first entry was antedated August 28, 1798, and, with two 
trifling exceptions, February 7, 1833, the last on October 29, 
1818. According to the amended By-Laws adopted on May 
4, 1809, the Librarian began a record of books taken out, and 
from that date the practice has been continued down to the 
present day. The volume bought for this purpose has the 
name of the Society and "1809" stamped in gilt on the front 
cover, and was used from May 4, 1809, to December 26, 1833. 
It contains the names of members taking out books arranged 
for the most part alphabetically, one name to a page, and it 
also has an index. Since February 11, 1834, when anothcp 



book was begun, the titles have been entered chronologically; 
and during its use, until the time of Dr. Appleton, it was the 
general custom for each member to sign his own name against 
the charge. 

From a careful collation of the catalogues of the Library, 
both printed and manuscript made before 1796, with the books 
on the shelves it is found that certain books were missing 
even at that early period; and since then losses, particularly 
those to which special attention has been called, have been 
noted from time to time in the Proceedings. Of the first gift 
of books, pamphlets, and manuscripts, received at the second 
meeting of the Society held on April 9, 1791, many still re- 
main unidentified and are probably lost. On October 25, 1796, 
a committee was appointed '* to sell the useless books belong- 
ing to the Society." This may account for some of the missing 
volumes, while votes at diiferent times to exchange duplicates 
and triplicates will explain the absence of others. There are 
instances where volumes have been returned which have been 
out of the Library for a long period ; and the fact has been 
sometimes noted by the Librarian in the volumes, and occa- 
sionally it has been mentioned in the Proceedings. 

From the collection furnished by Dr. Belknap, at the fourth 
meeting of the Society, on October 11, 1791, several volumes 
were lent out at the time, and only one of these is known to 
have been returned. This volume contains many rare and 
valuable tracts published between 1628 and 1732, the first of 
which is " A Copy of the Kings Majesties Charter for Incorpor- 
ating the Company of the Massachusets Bay "... Boston, 
1689. Another title is '' New Englands First Fruits ; " . . . 
London, 1643, which is printed in part in the first volume 
of the Collections, pages 242-250. It once contained " New 
England, or a Briefe Enarration "... London, 1625, a Latin 
poem by William Morrell, which has since been taken out and 
bound separately. This poem with the English translation 
was also printed in the same volume of Collections, pages 
125-139. On the inside of the cover of this book of tracts is 
written : " Returned to me by Dea. George A. Thatcher of 
Bangor Me. Sept. 30, 1853. He found it among books which 
fell to him from B. B. Thatcher, who died, 1840. Joseph B. 
Felt, Librarian." 

Another volume of tracts, stamped on the back " Whitfield," 


and probably borrowed from the Library as early as 1812, eon- 
tains the earliest and fourth plates. The first title in the 
volume, which was bound some time in the year 1792, is 
" Divine Influence the true Spring of the Extraordinary Work 
at Cambuslang and other Places in the West of Scotland," . . . 
by Alexander Webster, Boston, reprinted, 1743. The follow- 
ing memorandum in the handwriting of Dr. John Appleton, 
Assistant Librarian, and signed with his initials, appears on a 
fly-leaf: " This volume was found in the Library of a deceased 
clergyman in New Haven, Conn., and returned to the Massa- 
chusetts Historical Society, by Franklin B. Dexter, Tutor in 
Yale College, July 28, 1866. J. A.'' 

On July 5, 1816, two volumes entitled " Bibliotheca Ameri- 
cana," London, 1789, and " Bibliothecae Americanae Pri- 
mordia," . . . by White Kennett, London, 1713, were taken 
from the Library by Isaiah Thomas. At a meeting of the So- 
ciety on April 28, 1831, after the death of Mr. Thomas, which 
occurred on April 4, the Librarian was requested " to obtain 
return " of both volumes, which about that time had been 
given to the American Antiquarian Society. Although the 
Historical Society's ownership was then questioned, the first 
volume was returned in the autumn of 1831, and the second 
in January, 1836. At a meeting held on October 29, 1835, the 
subject of the return of the Kennett volume was again 
brought up, and referred to the Librarian and Recording 
Secretary ; and on November 26 of that year, they reported 
that "they had written fully to the Council of the American 
Antiquarian Society, and had furnished full and complete 
evidence of the property of our Society " in this volume ; and 
it was accordingly returned in the following January as above 
stated. See Proceedings, Volume IL, pages 24, 26, and 29. 

A short time before Mr. Thomas's death he wrote the 
following on the inside of the front cover : " This Book 
' was loaned to a member of the Historical Society by Mrs. 
Crocker to whom it belonged, and was included in the pur- 
chase I made of her, of Part of the Mather Library, Dec'' 
1814." According to votes passed by the Society, on Decem- 
ber 20, 1794, and April 25, 1822, it ^,ppea^s that at some time 
a '' valuable portion of the Mather Library " had been either 
given or deposited by Dr. Samuel Mather's executors, and by 
his daughter Mrs. Hannah Mather Crocker, to this Society ; 


and certaiu volumes are found containing the autograph signa- 
tures of the Mathers, father, son, and grandson, and occasion- 
ally in the same book. 

On November 3 and 6, 1790, the library of Mather Byles, 
consisting of 3,000 volumes and a large collection of pamphlets 
was sold in Boston, on which occasion many books and pam- 
phlets were bought by Thomas Wallcut, as appears by notes in 
his handwriting; and these he afterward gave 'to the Society 
at different times. Many contain autograph signatures of the 
Mathers and Dr. Byles. 

Among many instances of missing books are the follow- 
ing : " Transactions of the American Philosophical Society," 
Volume III., No. 2, borrowed by John Davis, October 28, 
1830, and returned on October 22, 1864 ; a volume of " Ser- 
mons on Lexington Battle," which contains the following note : 
'' This Book appears never to have been in the new Library, 
till 1844, when it was returned. J. B. Felt"; and two vol- 
umes taken out probably not long after the removal of the 
Library to its present site, one of which, Cotton Mather's 
Life of his father, was returned on November 2, 1855, having 
been found in the library of the Boston Athenaeum ; and the 
other, Charles Vallancey's " An Essay on the Primitive Inhabi- 
tants of Great Britain and Ireland" (Dublin, 1807), which 
turned up in the library of the Grand Lodge of Massachu- 
setts some time in March, 1858. 

By a vote passed on October 30, 1828, the Librarian was 
authorized to furnish the Commissioners for settling the boun- 
dary line between the United States and New Brunswick with 
certain maps and other documents belonging to the Society, 
which were not accessible elsewhere to them. At the request 
of the Commissioners, the application came from the Governor 
of the Commonwealth ; and in accordance therewith the various 
works were sent to Washington, though no list was made by 
the Librarian. It was stipulated that they should be safely 
returned, though this does not appear to have been done 
promptly, as they came back at different times, one map as 
late as June, 1852 ; but it is not now believed that they all 
were returned, as no record of the fact is found. With no list 
kept by the Society, this does not seem surprising. 

When Dr. Appleton began, in 1855, to prepare a cata- 
logue of the Library, he kept a small note-book in which he 


entered titles and shelf-numbers of "Books missing." Fol- 
lowing this is a similar list of 30 pamphlets that " have been 
stolen from the Volumes in which they were bound." Many 
references to other lost pamphlets are found noted in various 
volumes where the tracts are missing. So far as known, 
wherever a pamphlet is taken out to be bound separately, a 
memorandum to that effect has been made. Manv in the first 
list are marked as returned, but of the second none apparently 
has been received. On June 3, 1880, a volume entitled 
" An Answer to George Keith's Libel against a Catechism," 
by Francis Makemie (Boston, 1694), was stolen from the 
Library and has never been returned. The loss was at once 
detected, and the thief strongly suspected. In my own mind 
I never had any doubt as to his guilt ; and it is a satisfaction 
to know that he is now undergoing a long term of imprison- 
ment at Charlestown for another crime. 

Another instance where a memorandum is found appears 
in a bound collection of medical tracts of which the first is 
*' Some Reasons and Arguments . . . for the setting up Mar- 
kets in Boston " (Boston, 1719). This volume contained a rare 
tract entitled "A Friendly Debate," etc. (Boston, 1722), which 
was wanted in the Library of the Surgeon-General's OflBce, 
United States Army. As there were two other copies in the 
Library, and this one was slightly imperfect, the Council voted 
on January 10, 1876, to give it to the Library at Washington ; 
and accordingly the pamphlet was taken out and sent. The 
fact was duly noted on a fly-leaf by the Librarian. The Morrell 
tract mentioned above may be cited as another instance where 
a pamphlet was removed from a bound volume and a memoran- 
dum of the fact made. 

The first catalogue of the Library was published in 1796, 
and contains about a thousand titles, not including " unbound 
books," pamphlets, newspapers, and manuscripts. The ear- 
liest list of any portion of the Library is one indorsed in 
the handwriting of John Eliot, the first Librarian, '' Mss. list 
of, in the Hist. Cabinet, 1792." Mr. Eliot also kept a rough 
list of accessions to the Library, which probably served as a 
catalogue until one was begun by Thomas Wallcut, in 1792, 
where titles for the first time were arranged alphabetically ; 
although additions to Eliot's catalogue were made as late as 
1793. On October 23, 1792, it was voted to print " a number 


of copies of the catalogue " ; but this seems not then to have 
been done, as on October 29, 1793, " The Catalogue of the 
Library being reported," it was voted " That the Librarian 
procure it to be copied at the expense of the Society." This 
probably referred to the Wallcut catalogue, which was com- 
pleted near that time. It is a fold of folio sheets consisting 
of 83 pages, and, with additions made from time to time, was 
the working catalogue until 1796. 

The " Catalogue of Books," published in that year, as 
mentioned above, was in use until 1811, and from time to 
time new titles were added in manuscript. The Library 
copy has these words written on the top of the titlepage : 
" The property of the Society. To lie on the Table for the 
use of the Members, it being the only copy with references 
to the places of the Books." On September 1, 1803, a reprint 
of 500 copies was voted, but it is veiy doubtful whether 
the order was ever carried out. This catalogue was inter- 
leaved and bound near the time when Timothy Alden began 
his services as Librarian on May 9, 1808 ; and with new titles 
added on the blank leaves served for a time as the working 
patalogue. Before the end of his term of service on October 
26, 1809, he had made what seems to be a full catalogue 
of the Library at that time ; and this he carried away when 
he removed to Newark, New Jersey, and he did not re- 
turn it until April 25, 1811. It was subsequently bound in 
leather, and stamped on the back " Catalogue of Historical 
Library Alden's Manuscript." At the meeting held on the 
day of its return, it was voted to print 400 copies, which were 
published in October, 1811, making a pamphlet of 96 pages. 
It contained about 4,000 titles, two columns to a page ; and the 
appendix is composed of " Lists " of Newspapers, Maps, Manu- 
scripts, Tracts, etc., also of Preachers of Election Sermons, 
Artillery Election Sermons, Annual Convention Sermons, and 
Dudleian Lectures, as well as Anniversary Addresses of the 
, Massachusetts Charitable Fire Society, Discourses before the 
Massachusetts Humane Society, Fifth of March and Fourth of 
July Orations, Orations and Poems before the Phi Beta Kappa 
Society, a List of Preachers before the London Society for the 
Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and before the 
Massachusetts Missionary Society, also Ordination and Installa- 
tion, Funeral, and Dedication Sermons, and a List of various 

• ••• 


Altnauacs published in New England and elsewhere. Soon 
after this catalogue was issued, a working copy was made up 
by pasting on the ten inside leaves of six folds of folio paper, 
four columns of the catalogue to a page. On the outside 
in the hand of Joseph McKean, then Librarian, is written 
" Catalogue of the Historical Library. (This is not to be re- 
moved from the Table.) 1811." In the upper right-hand 
corner of this page is the following : " c. c. Began this Catal. 
Monday Aug. 2^ 13 & finally finished Nov. 12, 1813." This 
entry related to the shelf-numbers which Mr. Joseph Tilden, 
at that time Librarian, wrote opposite to the titles ; and the 
two letters " c. c." at the beginning probably referred to the 
shelf and book-case where it was kept. For a while occasion- 
ally some new titles, as well as others which had been omitted, 
were added below the pasted scraps. A little later a volume 
was made up in a similar way, probably by James Savage, and 
bound in leather, containing one column to a page ; and many 
shelf-numbers were marked in. It was probably used during 
the latter part of his Librarianship and until the removal of 
the Library in 1833, possibly a year or two later, as it contains 
some of the new shelf-marks of that period. As before, new 
titles were added from time to time. Subsequently a similar 
volume was made up for the same purpose, though but 
little used. 

On August 25, 1835, it was voted that " Joseph B. Felt, a 
member of the Society, be requested, in concurrence with the 
Librarian [Nahum Mitchell], to make a catalogue, alphabeti- 
cal and systematic, of all the books, pamphlets, and manu- 
scripts in the Library of the Society." On May 26, 1836, 
when they made a report upon the progress of the work, a 
large portion of the Library had been catalogued. The volume 
in which the entries were made was like the one prepared by 
Mr. Savage, only of oblong shape and much larger ; and it 
was the working catalogue for about twenty years, or until 
the beginning of the new catalogue by Dr. John Appleton, 
then Assistant Librarian, on April 18, 1855. This last cata- 
logue was published in two volumes, one in 1859 and the 
second in 1860, a copy of which was interleaved and bound 
up for use in the Library. The original, from which a copy 
was made for the printer, consisted of many folio sheets of 

brown paper on which were pasted the slips containing the 



titles arranged alphabetically; and this collection of sheets 
was the working catalogue for a few years. In the interleaved 
copy, titles were entered on the blank pages until about 1864, 
when a system of cataloguing on paper slips of a blue tint was 
begun, and continued for a time. Soon afterward cards were 
used, as stated in the Librarian's Report, April, 1869, where it 
says that " the card system has been adopted some years, and 
continues to give satisfaction." Some time later the blue slips 
were either copied or pasted on long cards. These cards were 
used until about October 1, 1878, when others of regulation 
size, like those used to-day, were first bought for the purpose. 
Up to this time the cards were kept in broad pasteboard boxes, 
two rows to a box, although some of the boxes were used for a 
few years longer. When the small cards were bought, a case 
of ninety-two drawers was made in September, 1878, by Azel 
E. Steele for the purpose of holding them ; and it is estimated 
that there is room for about 250,000 cards. The catalogue of 
the Library is now in three parts, — the printed titles, those on 
the blank leaves, and the cards which have now been brought 
into one alphabetical arrangement. See the note on pages 43 
and 44 of the second volume of the Proceedings for another 
account of the catalogues. 

According to some manuscript notes made by Joseph McKeaii 
about the year 1811 in a bound copy of the first Catalogue of 
Books, 1796, there were then in the Library at the Tontine 
Crescent one mahogany book-case on the west side of the 
room, a *' range," — probably a book-case or section of one, 

— next to the north window on the east, and three other 
" ranges " on the same side, and also two on the south side, 
one near the door and another near the window. These 
several cases were indicated on the catalogue by capital let- 
ters, A, B, C, etc., and the shelves were marked by lower 
case letters, while the order on the shelf was shown by figures. 
There were only two book-cases in the Library at the time the 
Wallcut catalogue, already mentioned, was made ; but a third 
case was soon added. Before 1799 the fourth and fifth book- 
cases were bought, and before 1811 two more. Down to* the 
time of the appearance of the catalogue in 1811, a system of 
figures was used to indicate the places of books in the Library, 

— the first to show the case, the second the shelf, and the 
third the order on the shelf, thus : 1. 6. 5. The letters and 


figures just referred to were used until the removal of the 
Library in 1833, since which time there have been in the 
main two numbers only, one to indicate the shelf and the other 
the place on the shelf. 

The early place-marks of volumes were written on small 
paper labels, many of them diamond-shaped, which were 
pasted on the back of books ; and probably this practice 
continued with some irregularity until about 1798. From 
that date until about 1811, the number, if entered at all, is 
found on the inside of the front cover, in the upper left-hand 
corner. When the second method of marking volumes came 
into use, a small red-faced label was printed, like this, as near 
as type will allow : — 


It was pasted on the back of each volume near the bottom ; 
and in the lower space of the label was written the place-mark 
of the book, as — E. b. 24. Traces of numbering in this way 
are found for fifteen years, more or less, until possibly 1830. 
After the removal of the Library in 1833, and upon its re- 
arrangement, two new labels were made, one of which was to 
be used for the Library, and the other for the Cabinet, like the 
following : — 


Sh. No. Cab. No. 

////////////// ///////////// 

In most cases, one of these was pasted over the first slip, 
if on the volume at the time. This method of notation con- 
tinued until about 1857, when the Dowse Collection was 
received, and the catalogue of the Library was in process of 
making, both of which caused great changes in the arrange- 
ment of books. During these changes an "Index " volume was 
prepared by Dr. Appleton, containing the numbers only, both 
the old and the new, which was used while this catalogue was 
printing, and perhaps later. Since that time, in a great ma- 


jority of cases, the numbers have been written on the inside of 
the front cover, in the upper left-hand corner, with a black 
pencil ; although many volumes are found in which blue has 
been used, especially in such as were then rearranged on the 
shelves, in order to make room for the Dowse Library. 

When the " Rules for the Library and Museum " were first 
adopted on October 11, 1791, the Librarian was required to 
present a " catalogue of the books, pamphlets, manuscripts, 
maps, and curiosities." The same requirement was made in 
the By-Laws of June 11, 1794, and with the exception of the 
" curiosities " was repeated in those of May 4, 1809. This 
*' catalogue " or list was printed, accordingly, in the Proceed- 
ings from time to time, and during the year 1792, in a changed 
form, in " The American Apollo." The Lists from 1798 to 
1810 also appeared in several newspapers, one of which was 
published outside of the State, and all so far as known are 
mentioned below. 

This practice of reporting the titles was kept up for the most 
part until the end of 1796 ; and during the year 1797 similar 
references to gifts were omitted. On January 30, 1798, the 
Librarian reported a long list of titles received since the pre- 
ceding entries of November 18, 1796 ; and afterward at the 
January meeting of each year he read a similar list, with the 
exception of the following instances, when it was presented 
on October 30, 1804, August 27, 1805, and August 28, 1810 ; 
although it was omitted in the years 1806 and 1808. At this 
last date the practice of entering the list in the record of the 
meetings was discontinued. From October 25, 1809, to Octo- 
ber 31, 1816, the titles of books received, with the names of 
the givers, were entered on some blank pages in the " Loan 
Book" of 1809; and from July, 1815, to July, 1838, an 
" Acknowledgment of Donations " was printed in the Col- 
lections (2d series, IL, to 3d series, VIL). 

On January 28, 1830, it was voted '' That the Librarian pro- 
cure a suitable book for the purpose of entering the donations, 
to be kept in the room " ; and since that date, when the first 
entry was made, this method of recording gifts has been kept 
up. For further reference to gifts received by the Library, 
see the Proceedings, Volume I., page 250. With a few excep- 
tions, the following are the dates at which gifts were made, 
and the places where a list of them may be found : — 



1791, April 9, pp. 6-13, October 11, pp. 18-22, December 21, pp. 26, 27. 

1792, March 30, pp. 30,31, April 24, pp. 32, 33, June 8, pp. 37, 38, 
July 31, p. 39, August 10, 13, p. 41. Also in The American 
Apollo, May 11, p. 210, June 15, p. 274, August 3, p. 351, 
August 24, p. 380. 

1793, January 29, pp. 47, 48, April 30, p. 50, July 30, pp. 51-53, 
October 29, pp. 54, 55, November 26, p. 56. 

1794, January 28, p. 60, April 4, p. 66, June 11, pp. 67, 68, July 29, 
pp. 73, 74, October 28, pp. 75-77, December 20, p. 79. 

1795, January 27, pp. 81, 82, April 28, pp. 83, 84, August 17, pp. 87, 
88, October 27, pp. 88, 89, November 24, p. 91. 

1796, April 26, pp. 97, 98, June 6, p. 99, July 26, pp. 100, 101, 
November 18, pp. 102, 103. 

1798, January 30, pp. 111-116, and the Columbian Centinel (Boston), 
February 3. 

1799, January 29, pp. 121-124, and the Massachusetts Mercury (Bos- 
ton), March 19. 

1800, January 28, pp. 129-131, and the Massachusetts Mercury, April 1. 

1801, January 27, pp. 136-139. 

1802, January 26, pp. 145-147, and the Mercury and New-England 
Palladium (Boston), February 23. 

1803, January 25, pp. 151-156, and the Boston Weekly Magazine, 
May 14. 

1804, July 5 (Boston Gazette), October 30, pp. 166-168. 

1805, July 23 (The Repertory, Boston), August 27, pp. 176-179. 

1806, November 15 (Portsmouth, N. H., Oracle). 

1807, January 27, pp. 190-192. 

1808, February 19 (The Repertory). 

1809, January 31, pp. 200-203, and the New-England Palladium, 
August 22. 

1810, August 28, pp. 216-219, and the Repertory, September 28. 

Loan Book, 1809. 

October 26, 1809, to October 31, 1816, with some breaks, and also for 
1812 and 1813, in the New England Palladium, February 18, 1814. 


1815, to July, 2d series, III., pp. 292-296. 

1816, to August, 2d series, IV., pp. 304-308. 

1818, to April, 2d series, VII., pp. 297-300. 

1819, to April, 2d series, VIII., pp. 329-332. 


1822, to January, ?d series. IX., pp. 369-372. 

1823, to April, 2(1 series, X., pp. 188-191. 
1825, to March, 3d series, I., pp. 295-299. 
1830, to January, 3d series, IT., pp. 365-368. 

1833, to January, 3d series, III., pp. 404-407. 

1834, to May, 3d series, TT., pp. 294-296. 

1836, to June, 3d series, ^, pp. 291-298. 

1837, to June, 3d series, VI., pp. 296-300. 

1838, to July, 3d series, VII., pp. 292-296. 

Gift Book. 

1830, January 28. Since then regular entries have been made. 


Tlie last " Acknowledgment of Donations " in the form of a 
list of titles was made in Volume VII., 3d series of Collections 
mentioned above. While the By-Laws of 1833 repeated the 
requirement that the Librarian at each stated meeting should 
furnish a "catalogue of books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and 
maps," few references to such a list are found until the last 
entry of this kind on October 31, 1833 ; but on February 27, 
1834, the practice of presenting the names of those making 
"donations" was begun, which were printed in the Proceed- 
ings of each meeting until March 11, 1869, when it was dis- 
continued. Since then the list has been regularly presented 
by the Librarian, but the names have appeared at the end of 
each volume of Proceedings, beginning with Volume XI. (1869- 
1870), in an alphabetical arrangement under the title " List of 
Donors to the Library." 

Of the large number of pamphlets given to the Library 
many have been bound up in volumes ; and from time to 
time votes have been passed ordering such work to be done. 
It was an early practice to tie up the pamphlets in small 
parcels, and keep them in this way preparatory to binding ; 
and in the course of time several thousand were bound. On 
April 8, 1858, when the Librarian read his first "Annual 
Report," under the requirement of the By-Laws adopted on 
October 8, 1857, there were about 12,000 pamphlets in the 
Library arranged in cases made for the purpose. It appears by 
the report of the Standing Committee on April 24, 1856, that 
at that time 457 cases had been bought, and about 10,000 pam- 
phlets classified and thus arranged. These cases, shaped like 


a volume, had the word '' Pamphlets " printed on the back. 
In April, 1862> the number had reached 492, and probably 
more were added later ; and their use continued until about 
1878, although a few are still found serviceable for the largest 
pamphlets. According to the system of classification begun 
by Dr. Appleton, and fully given in the report of the Libra- 
rian, made on April 12, 1866, a paper label of the proper size, 
bearing the printed name of the division, was pasted on the 
back of the boxes. About the year 1878 the pamphlets had 
increased so much that it was found easier and more conven- 
ient for use to tie them up in bundles. Later, in October, 
1884, these parcels were first carefully guarded from the wear 
of the string by strips of pressboard. Tlie system of classifica- 
tion now in use, although somewhat changed as to the names 
of the divisions and other minor particulars, is similar to 
that begun by Dr. Appleton. These pamphlets are kept in 
one room, and arranged on the alphabetical plan in the several 
divisions and subdivisions. 

It was the practice of early Librarians to enter, on the fly- 
leaf of each volume of miscellaneous tracts,, the titles con- 
tained therein, as well as occasionally other memoranda. 
One of such volumes, in which the first title is '' The Church 
of Ephesus arraign'd," by Josiah Smith (Charles-Town, S. C, 
1768), has on the fly-leaf at the end the following note written 
by John Eliot : — 

There is no persuading Bookbinders to do as yon desire them. Be 
sides the misplacing of several pamphlets & paying no regard to the 
date, tho' arranged for him by the Librarian, he must take this NarrO' 
tive of the work at (7. from the parcell which were collected with great 
diligence 8f many months assiduity ; S^ where all the CamJmslang pieces 
preceeded the other works of the Whitejieldian controversy. 

Two books are spoiled to the no small vexation of M'' E. who hath 
had his patience tried often in this way. 

Use — or Caution. 

Never send but pamphlets enough to fill one volume — let these be 
bound in boards only till you have seen them — then may you alter the 
arrangm^ before the finishing. Otherwise you must stand over the 
Bookbinder till there is not a bare possibility of his mistaking. 

Another volume, in which the first title is *' The Impor- 
tance of Righteousness . . in two Discourses delivered at 


BrookBeld, July 4, 1774," by Nathan Fiske (Boston, 1774), 
has a note at the beginning in the same hand as follows : — 

Remark — for the benefit of other Societies besides the historical. 

A stupid book binder will never mind your orders about placing 

If cheapness is the thing aimed at, you will have none but stupid 
feUows to work for you. 

Still another volume of bound tracts, in which the first 
pamphlet is entitled " Three Choice and Profitable Sermons," 
by John Norton (Cambridge, 1664), contains the following 
memorandum : — 

These Sermons were given by several Gentlemen [probably not 
members of the Society] M' Harris & M' J. Eliot. Some of them 
were collected from the Mather Library. They were bound at the 
expense of M^ who gave 100$ for this laudable purpose. 

Since the year 1868 it has been the rule in the Library to 
bind up all historical tracts separately; and miscellaneous 
pamphlets have not been bound in the same volume unless 
they belonged to a series or were closely connected in their 
subjects. Reports of various societies and institutions in 
Massachusetts are bound together in sets, and divided accord- 
ing to their thickness, though frequently by tens or fives, 
either as to the year or the ordinal number of the report. 
On the back and near the top of the volumes given during 
the first twenty years of the Society, there is found a small 
cross in ink. I am unable to give the meaning of this mark, 
but perhaps it was meant to show that the work had been 
catalogued. To indicate the fact in later years a small *' c *^ 
has been written in ink or with pencil at the beginning of 
the book or pamphlet in the upper right-hand corner. 

In former times the style of binding pamphlets varied some- 
what from that now in use, as well as the lettering on the 
back. Such volumes were generally bound in sheep, which 
has not proved to be serviceable. The following instances 
may be mentioned as fair samples of the lettering : " Religious 
Tracts,'* " Mixt Tracts," " Mixt Sermons," ''Select Pam- 
phlets," etc. ; and about 1815 the back titles ran thus : 
"Tracts. D. F. 1," "Tracts. D. F. 2," with several other 
combinations of letters and figures, which were intended 
probably for the place-mark of the books. 


In recent years it has been the practice to bind the news- 
papers in duck, as it is now considered by library experts to 
be more durable than leather, which in time becomes very 
tender and fragile. Since June 7, 1889, a handle, or loop, 
projecting behind, has been firmly riveted to each side of the 
cover, so that the volume can be more easily taken from the 
shelf. This has been found to be a convenient contrivance for 
large or heavy files. 

On October 13, 1882, the Society received a bequest of 
$3,000 made by a Corresponding Member, William Winthrop, 
Esq., of Malta, who died on July 3, 1869. According to the 
terms of the will, the Society was to apply "the whole of 
the accruing annual interest and profits to the binding, for the 
better preservation, of the valuable manuscripts and books 
appertaining to the Society '* ; and from the income of this 
fund, known as the " William Winthrop Fund," books were 
fii-st bound on June 9, 1883. In all the volumes a small slip, 
first made in 1884, is pasted on the inside of the front cover, 
in the upper right-hand corner, mentioning the fact and giving 
the date of binding ; and later a similar label, first struck off 
on June 4, 1890, has been used in all books repaired from the 
same income. See the Proceedings, Volume XX. (1882-1883), 
pages 17-20, for references to Mr. Winthrop and the bequest. 

At the Annual Meeting of the Society on April 9, 1857, the 
large and costly collection of books given by Mr. Thomas 
Dowse, of Cambridgeport, was formally received. It consists 
of fine editions of miscellaneous works, and all the books are 
elegantly bound. The following minute written on a sheet of 
letter paper and pasted on a fly-leaf at the beginning will 
explain itself : — 

Cambridge, July 30, 1856. 
This volume — " Purchas His Pilgrimes '* — being numbered 812 in 
the Catalogue now in the press of Mess. John Wilson & Son, is deliv- 
ered by me on this thirtieth day of July, 1856, to the Honorable 
Robert C. Winthrop, President of the Massachusetts Historical So- 
ciety, as an earnest and evidence of my having given the whole of my 
library to said Massachusetts Historical Society, the books to be pre- 
served forever in a room by themselves, only to be used in said room 

Thomas Dowse 
In presence of 

O. W. Watriss, ) 

George Livermobe. j 



Boston, 30 July, 1856. 

I received this Ist Volume of " Purchas His Pilgrimes *' from 
Thomas Dowse, Esq., in his own Library in presence of Messrs. 
Watriss and Livermore, the witnesses to his signature, this Wednesday 
afternoon, the thirtieth day of July, 1856, and brought it away with 
me at his request to be presented to the Massachusetts Historical So- 
ciety at a Special Meeting, which I have caused to be notified for 
Tuesday next at 10 o'clock, a. m., and in evidence of the gift of his 
whole collection of books to said Society. 

Robert C. Winthrop, 
President of the Mass. Hist. Society. 

After the receipt of the books at this meeting, Mr. Win- 
throp paid a tribute to the memory of Mr. Dowse, and an- 
nounced a gift of $10,000, from his executors, to be known 
as the " Dowse Fund.*' For an account of the proceedings 
and the eulogy by Mr. Everett, delivered in the Music Hall, 
on December 9, 1858, see the third volume of Proceedings 
(1855-1858). The collection by actual count consists of 
4,665 volumes, which is three less than the number shown by 
the catalogue printed in 1856, and several hundred less than 
that which has been mentioned on various occasions before the 
Society ; but according to memoranda made at the time these 
three by some accident were never received. The numbers 
and titles of the missing volumes are as follows: — 

785. Poems. With Engravings after Westall. By Thomas Gray. 
London, 1821. 

1308. Stories of the Gods and Heroes of Greece. By George 
Berthold Niebuhr. Translated from the German, and edited by Sarah 
Austin. London, 1843. 

1907. Letters to one of his Friends. By Bishop William 
Warburton. New York, 1809. 

The six bookcases originally received with the collection 
are still the property of the Society, but are now used for 
another purpose. 

In the autumn of 1871 a book-plate, modelled with some 
variations after that in the Ticknor Collection at the Boston 
Public Library, was made and duly inserted. The impres- 
sions were struck off from stone, twenty-three copies in one 
sheet, and afterward cut up ; and several of these sheets are 
still preserved. 


The late Mr. Savage, who was Librarian from 1814 to 1818, 
and afterward President from 1841 to 1855, bequeathed 
the sum of $5,000, "of the income whereof no use shall 
be made except for the increase of said Society's library," 
— the first bequest ever received for that purpose, and now 
known as the '* Savage Fund." This amount became available 
in 1873 ; and soon afterward, in September, 1875, a book-plate, 
modelled after the one used in the Dowse Collection, was 
made for all books bought with this income. The plate was 
engraved on steel, and contains a likeness of Mr. Savage. 
See the Proceedings (XIV., 153) for October, 1875, where an 
impression is given. Pamphlets bought in the same way and 
afterward bound, also receive this plate, as they are then con- 
sidered books. Since November, 1892, impressions inserted in 
such volumes have the blank " Bound 189 ," printed 

at the bottom so that the date of binding can be entered. A 
book is kept in which all the accessions from this source, 
including the various titles and the price, are entered, as well 
as other memoranda. At each meeting of the Council it is 
the custom of the Librarian to read a list of such books bought 
since the previous report. 

At a meeting held on December 22, 1813, it was voted that 
a committee then named " apply to the Trustees of the New 
England Library, so called, for the deposit of the same in 
the Historical Room." On October 30, 1817, this committee 
reported that, "in consultation with the pastor of the Old 
South Church and Society," and according to a vote of that 
church, on December 1, 1814, 261 volumes, 12 volumes of 
manuscripts and numerous pamphlets "most conducive to 
the design of deposit " had been selected and arranged in ten 
movable cases, open in front, in the rooms of the Historical 
Society. It is supposed that this collection was transferred as 
early as 1815, though there is no record of the fact. See Col- 
lections, 2d series, VII., 179-185, for a brief account of the 
deposit. On May 23, 1815, Moses Gill, of Princeton, gave to 
the Library the manuscript catalogue of this collection, in 
the handwriting of Rev. Thomas Prince, entitled " New-Eng- 
lish Books & Tracts collected by Thomas Prince of Boston 
N E." To this volume, before it was bound, several blank 
leaves were added by Rev. Abiel Holmes, who entered therein 
the titles of the books selected as well as a brief list of 


the manuscripts. This collection remained as a part of the 
Historical Library until 1859, when the pastors and deacons 
of the Old South Church, feeling the " need of a convenient 
and quick access to the whole collection " by the public, in a 
communication dated July 12, 1859, asked for the "return 
of the books and papers," agreeably to the terms of the vote 
whereby they were deposited; and accordingly they were 
returned to the Prince Library, which was, on July 12, 1866, 
transferred to the care of the Boston Public Library. In 
October, 1869, a complete catalogue of the collection was 
published by the Trustees of that institution, containing an 
historical introduction. 

On various occasions during recent years special book- 
plates have been printed for pairticular gifts.- Among such 
instances, as the more important ones, may be mentioned the 
bequest of a collection of music books by Williams Latham, 
received on May 22, 1884 (Proc, 2d series, L, 200); the works 
of Rear- Admiral Preble, on March 20, 1885; the Ticknor 
collection of books and pamphlets, on May 25, 1885 ; and 
the autograph collection given by Mr. and Mrs. Alexander C. 
Washburn, on April 13, 1893. 

On December 23, 1873, the three volumes of '' Hutchinson 
Papers," which had been in the Library for more than fifty 
years, were delivered by the Librarian to Charles R. Train, 
Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, according to a decision 
of the arbitrator, Robert S. Rantoul, Esq., made to the Society 
on December 6 of that year. The manuscripts relating to the 
controversy about the ownership of these files were bound in 
May, 1880, together with the House and Senate Documents 
relating to the same, and were printed in the Proceedings, 
Volumes II. (1835-1855) and X.-XIII. (1867-1875). An ac- 
count of the Papers with the final correspondence may be 
found on pages 217-232 of Volume Xlll. 

One of the early objects of the Society first mentioned in a 
*' Plan of an Antiquarian Society, August, 1790," written by 
Dr. Belknap, was the collection of " specimens of natural and 
artificial curiosities" ; and this was embodied in the Consti- 
tution drawn up at the beginning of 1791 and in the early 
By-Laws. The ^'best part of the cabinet," according to 
the By-Laws, contained such articles, and was called the 
" Museum " ; and until the annual election of oflBcers on April 


4, 1794, the Librarian had charge, but on that date Mr. 
Samuel Turell was chosen " Keeper of the Cabinet," and this 
office then became a permanent one. One of his duties was 
to present at the stated meetings of the Society a " catalogue 
of the curiosities." Before April 30, 1793, there is an occa- 
sional reference to articles given to the Cabinet ; but at the 
meeting held on that date the first list " For the Cabinet " 
was appended to that for the Library. These lists were 
added in the same way until January 31, 1809, and are in- 
cluded in the references to gifts mentioned above, excepting 
June 6, 1796 ; while in the records of later meetings allusions 
will be found to other articles received by the Cabinet. 
Although " a list of the natural and artificial productions 
belonging to the Museum " was reported on October 25, 1796, 
by Samuel Turell, Cabinet-Keeper, a catalogue, as such, was 
not begun until May, 1800 ; and this contains entries as late 
as 1814. About 1811 a catalogue of minerals and plants was 
made, Joseph McKean then Cabinet- Keeper ; and this con- 
tained a list of the plants given by Thomas H. Perkins on 
October 27, 1795. At a meeting held on December 32, 
William Dandridge Peck, a member, asked the Society to 
lend him these plants, that he might " put them in order and 
in a state of preservation," which application was granted. 
At the end of the catalogue it is recorded that " the Society 
consented that they should remain with the Professor till 
further orders." Mr. Peck died on October 3, 1822, and in 
another portion of the list is the following : " Oct. 27, 1825. 
After M' Peck dec^ these Plants were kept in the care of 
Rev* D^ Lowell at Cambridge, till further orders." What 
became of them is not known. 

As early as August 24, 1819, an eflfort was made to dispose 
of some of the articles belonging to the Museum, when it was 
voted " That the Librarian and Cabinet-Keeper be authorized 
to dispose, at their discretion, of any perishable articles in the 
possession of the Society." Besides other eflforts in the same 
direction, it appears by the record of the meeting held on 
October 25, 1796, that the Cabinet-Keeper was " authorized to 
exchange some of the shells belonging to the Society for 
Governor Hutchinson's picture " ; and in return the Society 
received the portrait painted by Copley. On April 25, 1833, 
it was voted " to deposit with the Society of Natural History 


such articles in the Museum, relating to that subject, as they 
(the Committee) may think proper." This occurred before 
the first meeting in the new room, but after the books had 
been moved ; and the articles, including several stuffed 
animals and 71 minerals, were delivered to that Society on 
July 20. A box of minerals from the neighborhood of Lynn, 
given by Alonzo Lewis on January 27, 1831, was not taken by 
the Natural History Society, perhaps because it was either 
overlooked or not wanted. At a meeting on January 10, 
1867, it was ordered '* That such aboriginal relics as Professor 
Wyman should select . . . be . . . deposited with the ' Pea- 
body Museum,' and that a list of every article thus deposited 
be kept." In accordance with this vote 178 specimens were 
sent to Cambridge, and a list is preserved. These votes 
stripped the Society, for the most part, of its collection of 
articles in natural history and archaeology. 

According to the Laws adopted by the Society on May 4, 
1809, it was the duty of the Librarian "to attend at the 
Library, or to procure some member to attend in his stead, 
on the afternoon of each Thui'sday, at three o'clock P. M., for 
the accommodation of the members." Until then it does not 
appear that he was required to be present at any specified 
time, or that the room was kept open ; but afterward the 
requirement continued in force until the By-Laws of Feb- 
ruary 10, 1853, were adopted. From that date the Librarian, 
according to the new regulation, has been present at the 
Library daily, " in person, or by a substitute ... at the regular 
hours appointed for keeping it open," although with much 
irregularity at first. Before 1853, as is implied in various 
ways, there may have been times when the rooms were open 
oftener than once a week for the convenience of members. * 

Until about 1794 the key of the Library remained in the 
hands of Dr. Belknap, then the Corresponding Secretary, whose 
duty it was to deliver it to " no other person but one of the 
members." The By-Laws, adopted in that year, required the 
Librarian and Cabinet-Keeper each to keep a key ; and this 
custom continued until 1853, when, as mentioned above, the 
Librarian was to be present daily. Owing to some difficulty 
in carrying out the last regulation, a committee was chosen to 
consider the subject of " keeping the Library open and making 
provision for a new catalogue." At the meeting on October 


12, 1854, Mr. Winthrop, for this committee, made a full 
report ; and in order to carry out the suggestions contained 
therein, the Libraiian was authorized to employ an assistant 
whose duty should be '' to keep the Library open according to 
the By-Laws of the Society, and to proceed at once to the 
preparation of a complete and systematic catalogue of the 
Library, Cabinet, and pictures." Accordingly the services of 
Dr. Appleton were secured, who entered upon his duties on 
December 4, 1854, as given below. 

In the earlier days of the Society the By-Laws required that 
all books " be accepted, with thanks," but it does not appear 
that there was then any formal letter sent to the givers. An 
acknowledgment, however, was made either in the American 
Apollo or the Collections, and occasionally in the newspapers 
of the period, as mentioned above. On August 24, 1819, a 
vote was passed ordering a "form of acknowledgment of 
donations," and at several other subsequent times similar re- 
quirements were made, as is noted in the second volume of 
Proceedings (pp. 20, 252, 312). On April 24, 1845, ^'a suit- 
able plate " was ordered ; but there is now no evidence that 
this was done. According to the By-Laws of 1853, the Libra- 
rian acknowledged the gift " by a letter addressed to the person 
making it" ; but in December, 1855, an engraved copper-plate 
for this purpose was made by Messrs. Morse & Tuttle, which 
has since then been in use. The " certificate," so called in the 
regulation of 1857, contains blank spaces for the title of the book, 
the name of the giver, and for the signatures of the President 
and Librarian. 

By a disastrous fire which burned many buildings and ware- 
houses very early in the morning of November 10, 1825, the 
Society suffered a serious loss in its publications. At that 
time the entire edition of volumes VII. and VIIL of the second 
series of Collections was efttirely destroyed, and nearly the 
whole of volumes IV. and V. of the first series, and IX. of the 
second series, amounting in all to more than 2,000 volumes. 
Most unfortunately the manuscript copy of the second volume 
of Winthrop's Journal was also burned, — an irreparable loss to 
historical scholars, although the work had then been recently 
printed; besides other valuable works belonging to the Society. 
The fire broke out in the building at No. 10 Court Street, rapidly 
spreading across the way, and destroying the building num- 


bered 7, in which was the oflBce of Mr. Savage, who had taken 
out for temporary use certain volumes belonging to the Library. 
The Collections were stored at the time with Messrs. Phelps & 
Farnham, printers to the Society, who occupied rooms in the 
next building, which was also burned. For other particulars 
concerning the Society's losses, see the first volume of Pro- 
ceedings (1791-1835), pages 392 and 410. 

At the third meeting of the Society, on June 30, 1791, it is 
recorded " That the Treasurer be desired to purchase twelve 
chairs (Windsor, green, elbow); a plain pine table, painted, 
with drawer and lock and key ; an inkstand, &c." Accord- 
ing to Mr. Winthrop, who referred to them in an address 
when, as President, he received the keys of the Dowse Library 
on April 9, 1857, they were " believed to be the same which, 
until within a few months past, have constituted the principal 
part of the furniture of our rooms." It is interesting to note 
that the table and chairs are still in use, and show no great 
sign of wear ; and five benches or settees are foupd which 
may have been a part of the original furniture of the Li- 
brary. For further references to Windsor chairs, see the 
Proceedings, volumes XVIL (p. 218), XVIII. (p. 243), and 
2d series, I. (p. 147). 

Until August 29, 1815, members of the Society were elected 
by ballot, but on that date it was voted unanimously that " the 
law and custom of our forefathers be adopted, as it stands in 
the Statute of Elections, 1643, mutatis mutandis, *For the 
yearly choosing of assistants, the freemen shall use Indian 
corn and beans, the Indian corn to manifest election, and the 
beans contrary.' " The substance of this vote was embodied 
in the By-Laws of 1833, and has since continued in force. 
During recent years the corn used for this purpose has been 
taken from an ear given by Mr. Winthrop. Attached is a tag 
on which is written the following : — 

The ear of corn held up by Edward Everett as an illustration in his 
speech on " Vegetable and Mineral Gold " at the dinner of the United 
States Agricultural Society, 26th October, 1855, and given to me as 
we drove home together after the dinner. He said he had plucked 
it himself from the field in Lexington on that or a previous morning. 
He brought it to the dinner wrapped in paper, uncovering it only at the 
moment when he alluded to it. See his Orations and Speeches, 3d Vol. 
p. 387. R. C. W. 


In the summer of 1818, Louis XVIII., King of France, gave 
to the Library several works in return for a set of the Society's 
Collections which had been previously sent to him. These 
works, consisting of eleven volumes in all, taken from the 
King's own library, were elegantly bound, and bear on the 
covers the Royal Arras in gilt. One of them entitled "Dic- 
tionnaire des Ouvrages Anonymes et Pseudonymes," in four 
volumes, was for a long time through some mistake in the 
possession of the Library of Harvard College. After many 
years they were returned to the Society, with the college book- 
plates pasted in them. 

Among important additions may be mentioned certain 
books, pamphlets, and manuscripts from the Library of Dr. 
Belknap, which were given to the Society by his daughter, 
Miss Elizabeth Belknap, on March 11, 1858. See the third 
volume of Proceedings (pp. 286-328) for an account of the 
gift. Another valuable accession was Dr. John Pierce's set 
of early election sermons given by him, and received by the 
Society on October 22, 1849, soon after his death ; and his 
collection of Massachusetts Registers, received on September 
20, 1851, and also his manuscript diary, from 1803 to 1849, in 
18 vplumes, on February 25, 1858. Another addition, con- 
sisting of works of early American poetry, was received from 
Mr. Ticknor on December 9, 1858 ; and this was supple- 
mented by many books and pamphlets given by the family after 
his death. Still another came through a bequest from Mr. 
Savage received on June 12, 1873, which included many local 
histories, genealogies, etc., and his own copy of the Genealog- 
ical Dictionary, with manuscript notes and corrections. 

On February 11,1869, a valuable collection of books and 
pamphlets was given by Mr. Winthrop, at that time President 
of the Society. Among the works then received there were 
78 volumes lettered on the back according to their subjects, 
and each containing about ten pamphlets. At several times 
during the years 1863 and 1864, Mr. Winthrop also gave 
many early broadsides, for the most part relating to New 
England, which have been placed in two large volumes made 
for the purpose ; and a special book-plate has been inserted, 
with the dates of the gift. 

When I entered on my term of service as Librarian in 1868, 

I began to form a collection of the different editions of the