Financial history of the Boston Public Library
O'Connor, Mildred Catherine
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From the time of the first settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, privately owned libraries or those maintained by the churches or schools were available to the colonist who could read. As early as 1653 Robert Keayne left his library to the Town of Boston to be housed in the town-house. This collection of books was apparently enlarged by gifts of other colonists but was wiped out in the fire of 1747. As a result of the early establishment of schools in the colony and the subsequent legislation which made universal education almost one hundred percent mandatory, there developed a great pool of literate people. In the early part of the nineteenth century libraries began to be formed, in some cases supported by interested citizens, in others by members of a trade. An example of this was the Boston Mercantile Library which was begun in 1820 and later incorporated with the Boston Public Library. However, not until 1847 did the Massachusetts General Court enact a law which permitted the towns to establish and maintain libraries out of the public funds.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University