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19th Century American Trade Cards
Color lithographed Victorian-era trade cards were a key late 19th century advertising vehicle for national manufacturers and local businesses. These miniature posters, about the size of a postcard, were handed out as souvenirs at major expositions during the late Victorian period. They were... more
Alexandre Benois Collection
Since 1983, the Boston Public Library has acquired in several components a distinguished and unique (to this country) scholarly resource -- the personal library and related collections of eminent painter, art historian, and Ballets Russes set and costume designer, Alexandre Benois. The... more
Along the Elevated: Photographs of the Orange Line
In the fall of 1985, four teams of photographers started a project to document the elevated Orange Line and the communities it served before its planned demolition in 1987. The project, conceived by the photographer Linda Swartz, and managed by Urbanarts, Inc. for the MBTA, paired a professional... more
Alphonse Legros (1837-1911). Prints and Drawings
Alphonse Legros (1837-1911) was a French painter, etcher, sculptor, and medallist. Born in Dijon in 1851, he went to Paris to study, took up etching in 1855, and in 1857 exhibited for the first time at the annual Paris Salon. In 1863, with the encouragement of the American artist James Abbott... more
American Art Posters 1890-1920
With the invention of lithography in Germany in 1798 and its introduction into France and England during the first years of the 19th century, there was an increasing demand for images among the growing middle class. As the new technique allowed much larger editions than did the older techniques... more
American Artists
Critical funding to support long-term preservation of and enhanced public access to Boston Public Library collections, including this one, was provided by the Associates of the Boston Public Library.
American Civil War 20th Massachusetts Regiment (Collection of Distinction)
In 1892, Boston Public Library accessioned the personal collection of Francis W. Palfrey, a colonel in the American Civil War (1861–1865). These 287 books formed the cornerstone of the 20th Massachusetts Regiment Collection, a collection now totaling over 6,000 items including printed books,... more
American Revolutionary War-Era Maps (Collection of Distinction)
With the first battles of the American Revolution occurring in the Boston area, one of the most important historical time periods represented in the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center's pre-20th-century holdings is the American Revolutionary War era, defined broadly as 1750 to 1800. This collection... more
Anders Zorn (1860-1920). Etchings and Other Works
Anders Zorn (1860-1920) was a Swedish painter, sculptor, and printmaker. Born in Mora, Zorn’s early drawings and wood carvings showed his artistic abilities. Between 1875 and 1880, he studied sculpture and painting at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. He then traveled extensively in England,... more
Anti-Slavery (Collection of Distinction)
In the late 1890s, the family of William Lloyd Garrison, along with others closely involved in the anti-slavery movement, presented Boston Public Library with a major gathering of correspondence, documents, and other original material relating to the abolitionist cause from 1832 until after the... more
Archive of Photographic Documentation of Early Massachusetts Architecture
This collection holds late 19th century photographs as well as engravings of 17th and 18th century buildings in Eastern Massachusetts. The mounted photographs and engravings were compiled by the Liberty Tree Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (D. A. R.) and consist of homes,... more
The Birds of America: From Original Drawings by John James Audubon
The first edition of John James Audubon's Birds of America was issued through a collaboration between Audubon and the London printmakers Robert Havell, Sr. and Robert Havell, Jr., with some plates engraved by William H. Lizars, of Edinburgh. The prints were originally sold by subscription and... more
Book of Common Prayer (Collection of Distinction)
The Benton Collection of Editions of the Book of Common Prayer is one of the most abundant existing collections of its kind. It includes first-edition copies of the first Prayer Book of 1549, King Edward’s second Prayer Book of 1552, Queen Elizabeth’s Book of 1559, King James of 1604, and five... more
Boston and New England Maps (Collection of Distinction)
The primary geographical focus of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center's pre-20th-century Boston and New England Maps Collection is the local region, encompassing Boston, Massachusetts, and New England. The collection consists of more than 600 maps of the city of Boston and approximately 1,000... more
Boston Brewery Posters
Boston, in the early 1900s, was home to 31 breweries. There were 24 breweries in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain and all were located in the vicinity of Columbus Avenue, Heath, and Armory Streets. The abundant water supply from the aquifer along the Stony Brook, artesian wells around Mission Hill, and... more
Boston (Mass.) Overseers of the Poor Indentures, 1734-1805
From 1630-1692, Boston's poor were the responsibility of the town Selectmen who believed that the welfare of the individual should come second to the religious and secular needs of the community and, conversely, that the community had a responsibility to the welfare of the individual. Thus,... more
Boston Matchcovers Collection
The bookmatch was patented in the 1890s by John Pusey, a Pennsylvania patent lawyer, who sold the patent outright to the Diamond Match Company in 1896. Soon after the sale, the bookmatch became hugely popular as an advertising giveaway and the first crudely printed example of its use appeared in... more
Boston Pictorial Archive (Collection of Distinction)
The Boston Pictorial Archive is one of the largest distinct collections of images related to Boston held by a public institution and the essential resource for Boston architectural, social, and neighborhood history. It includes more than 6,000 images on paper representing the visual history of... more
Boston Postcard Collection
Souvenir picture postcards made their American debut at Chicago’s 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. These new cards appealed immediately to a budget-conscious public as inexpensive keepsakes and an economical means of communication; by the early 1900s, the United States was in the throes of a... more
The Boston Printmakers Collection
The idea for establishing The Boston Printmakers came from faculty members and students at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, whose goal was to promote printmaking in Boston. At the invitation of Arthur Heintzelman, Boston Public Library’s first Keeper of Prints and an... more
Boston Wharf Company Collection
This collection of glass-plate negatives was given by the Boston Wharf Company to the Boston Public Library's Print Department in 1995. The negatives were taken circa 1898-1907 as a record of the buildings then owned and managed by the Boston Wharf Company in the Fort Point Channel Area of... more
Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery
Boydell's Graphic Illustrations of the Dramatic Works of Shakspeare represents the final chapter in a three-part, decades-long commercial publication venture undertaken by John Boydell. Between 1786 and 1804, Boydell prepared a sumptuous, illustrated edition of the works of Shakespeare, along... more
British Artists
Critical funding to support long-term preservation of and enhanced public access to Boston Public Library collections, including this one, was provided by the Associates of the Boston Public Library.
Carte de Visite Collection
The carte de visite, also known as a CDV, was a photographic format first produced in the 1850s, which became wildly popular in the 1860s. It consisted of a small photographic print (typically an albumen print) mounted on card stock measuring approximately 2 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches. The cards were... more
Cased Photographs
The term cased photograph refers specifically to two 19th century photographic media: the daguerreotype and the ambrotype, and, slightly less accurately, the tintype.The earliest and most important of these processes, the daguerreotype, consisted of a photographic image on a highly polished... more
Celia Thaxter correspondence with Annie Fields, 1869-1893
This collection contains letters written by Celia Thaxter (1835-1894) between 1869 and 1893. The majority of the letters are addressed to American writer Annie Fields (1834-1915) and document Thaxter’s daily life: writing and other artistic endeavors, gardening, book discussions, family troubles... more
Charles C. Perkins (1823-1886) Collection
Charles Callahan Perkins (1823-1886) spent much of his life in Boston as an author, art critic, and supporter of cultural activity, especially related to art and music. Following his studies at Harvard College, Perkins pursued additional studies in Europe. He is well known in Boston as a founder... more
Charles H. Woodbury (1864-1940). Prints, Drawings, Watercolors, Oil Paintings, and Copper Plates
Charles Herbert Woodbury (1864-1940) was an American painter and printmaker. Born in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1886, Woodbury received a degree in mechanical engineering from MIT and then established a studio in Boston. Although known as a painter and a printmaker, Woodbury also was interested in... more
Charles J. Connick Records: Gouaches
Charles J. Connick (1875-1945) was one of the pre-eminent artists in stained glass in the early twentieth century; his stained glass studio created approximately 15,000 windows in over 5,000 commissions from 1912 to 1986. The Boston Public Library's collection includes 2,150 studies for these... more
Charlestown Lantern Slides
After the Reverend Wolcott Cutler (1891-1965) was appointed rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Charlestown, he became interested in the long and rich history of his community. In addition to taking his own photographs of Charlestown's historic sites and streets, Reverend Cutler combed... more
Childe Hassam (1859-1935). Prints and Drawings
Frederick Childe Hassam (American, 1859-1935) was a painter, printmaker, draftsman, and illustrator. Born in Boston, Hassam began his artistic career by studying wood engraving and producing designs for letterheads, newspapers, and other commercial publications. In 1882, he established... more
Circus Posters
Advertising a circus was difficult before radio, television, and the Internet. To be successful and stay ahead of the competition, a circus owner had to market his show and create a brand that would be recognizable and generate repeat patrons. He had to advertise the features of his show to set... more
Colonial and Revolutionary America
Boston Public Library holds thousands of American manuscripts, printed books, and documents from the Colonial and Revolutionary War periods. The materials document American intellectual and political life before, during, and shortly after the Revolution. Highlights include: over 1,300 individual... more
Colonial and Revolutionary Boston (Collection of Distinction)
Boston Public Library holds thousands of manuscripts, correspondence, documents, and printed records from the Colonial and Revolutionary War periods. This collection is unparalleled in the extent of its administrative and judicial records of Massachusetts Bay Colony and early Boston. The... more
Costume & Set Designs
These images include original costume and set designs for a variety of operas and other stage productions such as Renato Virgilio's "Jana," Giuseppe Cicognani's "Il figlio del mare," Richard Strauss's "Ariadne auf Naxos," Ubaldo Pacchierotti and Alberto Colantuoni's "Eidelberga mia!," Ettore... more
Cuneiform Tablets
Cuneiform script is one of the earliest known writing systems. Cuneiform first appeared in Sumer (present day Iraq), ca. 3400 B.C.E. Glyphs were created by pressing wedge-shaped reeds onto the surface of clay tablets. Surviving cuneiform tablets are written in a number of languages and record a... more
Eadweard Muybridge's Animal Locomotion
Eadweard Muybridge's "Animal locomotion : An electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movements, 1872-1885" was published by the University of Pennsylvania in 1887. The eleven volume set consisted of 781 plates printed by the Photogravure Company of New York. The... more
Early English Printers
The Boston Public Library holds a significant collection of books from the earliest years of English printing, including works from the presses of William Caxton, Richard Pynson, Wynkyn De Worde, and others. Critical funding to support long-term preservation of and enhanced public access to... more
Early, Rare, and Exceptional Items from Special Collections, Rare Books
A curated selection of highlights from across the many collections held by the Boston Public Library's Rare Books and Manuscripts Department. Critical funding to support long-term preservation of and enhanced public access to Boston Public Library collections, including this one, was provided... more
Edgar Sutton Dorr Photograph Collection
Edgar Sutton Dorr (1854-1937) was a Boston engineer who worked for the Boston Sewer Department in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, eventually becoming the chief engineer of the sewer department in 1891. Dorr's father was Edward Reed Dorr and his mother was Eliza Ann Pitman. He... more
Edmund Blampied (1886-1966). Prints and Drawings
Edmund Blampied (English, 1886-1966) was a painter, printmaker, draftsman, illustrator, cartoonist, sculptor, and graphic designer.   Born in the Parish of Saint Martin, Jersey, Channel Islands, Blampied was inspired to draw by the people, animals, and landscape that he observed. After... more
Emily Dickinson Collection, 1862-1907
This collection contains approximately 70 letters and 43 poems sent by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) to Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823-1911). In 1862, Emily Dickinson responded to an article by Thomas Wentworth Higginson entitled "Letter to a Young Contributor," which formed a personal and... more
Emily Tennyson Letters, 1858-1873
This collection contains 83 letters from Emily Lady Tennyson, wife of Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), primarily to Margaret Gatty, children’s author and amateur marine biologist. The letters date from the time of Lady Tennyson and Mrs. Gatty’s first meeting in November 1858 through 1873,... more
English Caricature and Political Satire, 18th and 19th Centuries
Critical funding to support long-term preservation of and enhanced public access to Boston Public Library collections, including this one, was provided by the Associates of the Boston Public Library.
Fine and Historic Bookbindings (Collection of Distinction)
Boston Public Library's collection of fine bookbindings includes examples from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas during a time period that spans the 15th–20th centuries. The collection falls into three major categories. Bindings from the Medieval period to the first quarter of the... more
Fore-Edge Paintings
In 1945, Albert H. Wiggin began to form the fine collection of fore-edge paintings that, upon his death in May 1951, came to the Boston Public Library. It is one of the largest collections in this country, surpassed in size only by the Estelle Doheny Collection that is housed in the Edward... more
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910). Prints and Drawings
Sir Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910) was an English physician and printmaker. Born in London, Haden was trained as a physician and was admitted to membership in the College of Surgeons in 1842. He received no formal training as an artist. However, he made his first sketches from nature... more
Frank W. Benson (1862-1951). Prints and Drawings
Frank Weston Benson (American, 1862-1951) was a painter, printmaker, and educator. Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Benson received his training as an artist at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Académie Julien in Paris. He subsequently became an instructor in painting and... more
French Artists
Critical funding to support long-term preservation of and enhanced public access to Boston Public Library collections, including this one, was provided by the Associates of the Boston Public Library.