Begun in 1807, the Boston Athenæum in the heart of the city is one of the oldest and most distinguished independent libraries and cultural institutions in the United States. It is also known as the 19th Century Library and Art Museum. It has numerous collections of various items. Most have been made digital and are available on the Boston Athenaeum web site.
Some of the collections that most family history researchers would be interested in are city directories for Boston, photos of the 19th century and several vintage Boston hotel menus. In the photo categories, there are images of other places outside of Boston, all part of the collection of the person who donated it.
The Collection of Boston City Directories covers 1789 to 1943. You can view a thumbnail with the date listed and then double click on it to have the full directory available. It is put in PDF for downloading and easy viewing.
Photograph Albums Collection with four albums of 19th century photos and Civil War photos. Click on a thumbnail of an album of interest for larger images. Description in the center along with individual thumbnail of each photo in the album to the right. The Civil War collection was from Alice Mason (1838-1913) who was born in Boston. In 1857, she married William Sturgis Hooper (1833-1863), member of a prominent merchant family. During the war, Hooper volunteered to serve as an aide, but his diligent work undermined his already fragile health and he died in 1863. The following summer, Alice Mason went to Washington, D. C., where she volunteered as a nurse and visited the wounded in the military hospitals surrounding the city. So her collection of photos are quite interesting.
A Collection of Menus from the dining rooms of four Boston hotels dates from 1843 to 1865. Some menus were for the general public, while others were printed for special private dinners held for groups of gentlemen or committees involved with government of the City of Boston.
Photos: Boston Parker House and School scene of 1890, Sarah Ann Sears in a cased photo, Civil War photo of the John Burns house in Gettysburg, and Young’s Cornhill Coffee House Menu Oct. 1852.
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