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Call No.: UAIII 50.27.72
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Winthrop, James, 1752-1821.
Title: Papers of James Winthrop related to the Harvard College Library, 1780-1781, and undated.
Quantity: .22 cubic feet (1 half-legal document box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: This collection contains a small assortment of thirteen administrative records related to the Harvard College Library and its management by the College Librarian, dating from 1780 to 1801. The documents consist of two letters concerning book donations to the College Library from Francis Dana and Robert Bell; five documents concerning library staff appointments and payment for service; and six documents related to book borrowing, book binding, and the arrangement of volumes. The records are primarily dated within James Winthrop's tenure as College Librarian from 1772 to 1787 though many of the documents do not concern Winthrop.
In the Harvard University Archives
- Harvard College Library. Early Catalogs and Shelflists of the Harvard College Library, 1723-1822.
- Harvard University. Documentary history of the library, 1773-1879
- The Printed Catalogues of the Harvard College Library, 1723-1790. Boston: Colonial Society of Massachusetts. Distributed by Oak Knoll Press, 1996. (UAIII 50.15.29 and HUF 523.596.9)
- Papers of James Winthrop, 1765-1826.
The origins of the Harvard College Library can be traced to the College's namesake, John Harvard. Following his death on September 14, 1638, Harvard's library of four hundred volumes, along with half of his estate, was given to the newly-established college subsequently named in his honor. These books were the College's first library collection. Beginning in 1676, the Library was housed in Harvard Hall, where it would remain until the building was destroyed by fire in 1764. The first printed catalog of the library was produced in 1723 to reflect the approximately 3,500 volumes, and an additional 600 volumes by the time a second supplement to that first catalog was printed in 1735.The College Library was overseen by a librarian, who was often a recent graduate, junior fellow, College tutor, or resident bachelor. The first librarian appointed by the Harvard Corporation was Solomon Stoddard in 1672, and subsequent librarians typically served for one to three years. No salary was paid to those who held the position prior to 1693. The College Librarian oversaw the physical condition of the library and was charged with maintaining intellectual control over the holdings with library catalogues, shelflists, and records documenting donations, acquisitions, and book borrowing.
James Winthrop (1752-1821; Harvard AB 1769), son of Harvard Professor John Winthrop, was the Librarian of Harvard College from 1772 until 1787 and a longtime civil servant in Middlesex County, Massachusetts.James Winthrop received an AB from Harvard in 1769 and an AM in 1772. He was appointed as "substitute librarian" of the Harvard College Library and College Butler in December 1769. In 1772 he ceased his duties as Butler and became the College's Librarian and Keeper of its Museum. Winthrop was widely known for making malicious comments about others, and as a result he appears to have been unpopular among his colleagues at Harvard. In 1787, Winthrop as removed from the librarianship as the result of a newly instituted rule preventing faculty members from holding civil or judicial office. This rule is believed to have been instituted for the sole purpose of removing Winthrop from the staff. Following his dismissal from Harvard, Winthrop continued to serve as a civil servant and judge in Middlesex County. Winthrop died on September 26, 1821.
- Carpenter, Kenneth E. The First 350 Years of the Harvard University Library: Description of an Exhibition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986.
- Morison, Samuel Eliot. Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636-1936. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1936.
- Shipton, Clifford K. "Class of 1769: James Winthrop." In Sibley's Harvard Graduates: Biographical Sketches of those who attended Harvard College in the Classes 1768-1771. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1975
The records are arranged in chronological order.
This collection contains a small assortment of thirteen administrative records related to the Harvard College Library and its management by the College Librarian, dating from 1780 to 1801. The documents consist of two letters concerning book donations to the College Library from Francis Dana (1743-1811; Harvard AB 1762) and Robert Bell; five documents concerning library staff appointments and payment for service for James Winthrop, William Bentley (1759-1819; Harvard AB 1777), Thomas Crafts (1759-1819; Harvard AB 1783), and Phillips Payson (died 1809; Harvard AB 1778); and six documents related to book borrowing, book binding, and the arrangement of volumes. The records are primarily dated within James Winthrop's tenure as College Librarian from 1772 to 1787 though many of the documents do not concern Winthrop. Five of the letters are addressed to Harvard Professor Edward Wigglesworth (1732-1794; Harvard AB 1749) in his capacity as acting president of Harvard in 1780 and 1781.Item titles are supplied by the cataloger unless otherwise noted.
This document last updated 2015 June 2.