- For Members
The Athenæum's collection of manuscripts grew steadily from the founding of the institution, but it was not until the stewardship of Librarian Charles Knowles Bolton (ca. 1900) that efforts were first made to develop and organize this material.
Today the Athenæum is interested in donations of unpublished material that in some way relate to the history of the institution, its founders, members, and its Beacon Hill neighborhood, or manuscripts which help document the influence of the Athenæum on the literary, social, political, and artistic culture of Boston.
The collection includes personal and family papers, genealogical records, organizational and business records, literary manuscripts and sketchbooks, as well as merchants’ records and ships’ logbooks. Significant manuscripts in the collection
include the papers of Athenæum Trustee Samuel Eliot; the Revolutionary War-era papers of Ezekiel Price; the William Tudor papers; papers of Commodore Isaac Hull; and papers of architects Charles Bulfinch, Alexander Parris, George Minot Dexter, Nathaniel Bradlee, John H. Sturgis, Ogden Codman, and Richard Clipston Sturgis.
Also in the collection are artists' papers, such as those of Amasa Hewins, Isaac Sprague, Cephas Thompson, Cecilia Beaux, Francesca Alexander, and John Singer Sargent, and papers of merchant John Perkins Cushing, African American lawyer and abolitionist, Robert Morris, and showmen P.T. Barnum and Moses Kimball.
Corporate collections include the records of the Provident Institution for Savings, the second savings bank to be established in the United States, which came as a gift to the Athenæum in 1993. The letters and diaries of Massachusetts soldiers in the Civil War are primary resources that complement the Library’s world-class printed and visual collections. Modern additions to the collection include the papers of historian Stewart Mitchell, and the papers of long-time Boston School Committee member Joseph Lee.
In 2008 the manuscript collection grew with the generous donation of his sixty-five sketchbooks.by James V. Righter, Trustee Emeritus of the Boston Athenæum.