Tag Archives: Thomas Dowse

Democratizing Book Collecting: The First Bibliophiles of Cambridge

Date & Time:
April 13, 2022
12:00pm – 1:00pm
Virtual
REGISTER HERE

Join Drew Griffin, Senior Librarian at the Cambridge Public Library, as he delves into the history of book collection in Cambridge. By 1850 two of the finest book collections in the Boston area were located within half a mile of one another on Mass Ave between Central and Harvard Squares.  The two bibliophiles, Thomas Dowse and George Livermore, show a distinctly American approach to book collecting.  Unlike their British peers they came from humble backgrounds, didn’t attended college, and emphasized the democratic nature of their bookish pursuits by opening their libraries to the public (Dowse) and writing articles on book collecting for the nascent Cambridge Chronicle (Livermore).

Drew Griffin has worked at the Cambridge Public Library for the past 15 years in various capacities.  Since 2016, he has served as Senior Librarian in the Adult Services Department.  Drew’s area of expertise is genealogy and rare book librarianship.   Over the past 3 years, Drew has taught many of the Library’s popular genealogy workshops, including beginner’s genealogy and DNA testing and genealogical research.  Also, in his spare time, Drew is an avid rare book collector.  He is a member several bibliophile clubs, including the Grolier Club in New York City and the Ticknor Society in Boston. 

The 1887 Catalog of the Cambridge Public Library

Have you ever wondered what were in the stacks of the Cambridge Public Library over 120 years ago?  Thanks to Google Books, you can now browse through an extensive A-Z listing of all the books in the library from the novel, A Man’s a Man for That, to C. M. Yonge’s A Modern Telemachus.

The Catalog was published with a donation of $250 from the executors of the Thomas Dowse estate.  Thomas Dowse, of Cambridgeport, is known as one of America’s most prodigious book collectors of the nineteenth century.

View the 1887 Catalog of the Cambridge Public Library here:  http://books.google.com/books?id=Fxz2DGSZIPAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=catalogue+of+the+Cambridge+public+library,+1887&hl=en&ei=6jnITLu7NIus8Abh2PnYDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false