Library Company of Baltimore, 1795-1855, MS.80

Library Company of Baltimore, 1795-1855
Maryland Historical Society

(Text converted and initial EAD tagging provided by Apex Data Services, March 1999.)

Library Company of Baltimore, 1795-1855
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Manuscripts Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674
Fax: 410.385.2105

Descriptive Summary


MS. 80

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674


Library Company of Baltimore


The Library Company was incorporated in 1797, funds being raised through the sale of shares of stock. At several points in the history of the company, its viability was endangered by lack of financial support from the stock holders. Many of the papers relate to efforts by the Company to collect subscriptions in arrears and equal efforts by the stockholders to avoid paying these debts. In 1843 the Company took a test case to the courts, which [UNK] that the stockholders were legally responsible for their unpaid subscriptions and furthermore that the Company was entitled to charge interest on those subscriptions in arrears. Many shareholders, not unnaturally, chose to forfeit their shares, a move which caused the Company even greater financial losses. The situation was resolved in 1855 when the Company was dissolved and its library and membership merged with that of the Maryland Historical Society.

In the 1840's the Society had collaborated with the Library Company in issuing an appeal for funds to finance the construction of an Athenaeum Building. The appeal was successful and in 1848 the Society and the Library moved into the completed structure located at the northwest corner of Saratoga and St. Paul streets. By the terms of the agreement, if either organisation were to cease operations, the surviving institution would inherit the other's interest and assets. Thus, when the Library Company was dissolved, the Society acquired full ownership of the Athenaeum Building as well as the Company's vast library.

The collection contains numerous catalogues of the Library Company's holdings as well as accounts, minutes of meetings of the Board of Directors (Robert Gilmor served as Chairman of the Board over a span of twenty years), books of share certificates, record of library loans etc.


Container List


H. Weiskittel, February 1979.





Box 1

Bound volume containing:



-- 2 pp. history of the Library Co., December 1795-January 1796.








--shareholders' signatures




--act of incorporation, 1797.




--list of transfers of stock certificates




--catalogue, 1813+ of the library's missing holdings




--lists of books for recommended purchase.


From back of book: certifications of transfers of shares of stock, 1813 - 1848.




--extract from the by-laws of the Library Co.




--signatures of shareholders.




--extracts from the minutes, December 1809 - June 1815.





Box 2

Minute book of meetings of the Board of Directors, 20 January 1796 - 5 April 1809.




Minute book of meetings of the Board of Directors, 24 April 1809 - 26 April 1824.




Box 3

Minute book of meetings of the Board of Directors, 8 May 1824 - 26 April 1847.




Minute book of meetings of the Board of Directors, 5 May 1847 - 15 March 1855.




Box 4

Treasurer's Account Book, January 1796 - April 1806.




Record of loans of library books, 1797.




Box 5

Record of loans of library books, 1800.




Box 6

Record of subscriptions/contributions, 1847 - 1851.




Book of certificates transferring shares, 1848 - 1854.




Box 7

Stock subscription book.




`Certificates of stock' bound volume containing certificates and record of a few shares old, 1849 - 1850.




`Free shares' bound volume containing certificates of free shares and record of a few shares sold, 1849.




`Conversions' bound volume containing certificates of conversion of ordinary shares to free shares. None recorded.




Box 8

Minutes for 1819, 1837, 1843-1847.




Letters of resignation from members of Board of Directors. Includes letters declining to serve on Board. 1822 - 1847




Correspondence, lists, notes re purchase, donation and occasional sale of works for the library. 1810 - 1847




Letters of permission to use the library. (see also Box 9) 1818 - 1826




Correspondence and receipts, John and Arthur Arch, Booksellers. 1817 - 1829




Correspondence and receipts, Wiley and Putnam, Booksellers. 1841 - 1847




Correspondence and receipts, Smith Elder and Co., Booksellers. 1839 - 1841




Printed circulars, notices. 1847 - 1855




Register of visitors to the library. 1839 - 1840




Lists of collections of dues. 1815 - 1820




Circular letter sent to shareholders re contributions in arrears. 1843




Assessments of dues, lists of collections, letters relinquishing shares. 1847




Box 9

Record of loans of library books, 1843.




Accessions book, nos. 1 - 8800.




`Orders' volume containing letters of permission/request from shareholders to allow other individuals to use the library in their stead. 1848 - 1853.


See also Box 8.




Box 10

Supplement to the catalogue, prepared in 1810. Includes inside front cover list of Audubon's Birds of America plates donated by Robert Gilmor.




Bound volume containing:







--chronological list of deliveries and returns of books, 1848 - 1849.




--list of subscribers




--list of books published




--list of books sent for binding.





Catalogue of library's holdings, n.d.




Box 11

Accessions book, nos. 8801 - 10600.




Catalogue, c. 1860.




Box 12

Catalogue of library's holdings, n.d.




`Rice and Borland's catalogue' 1847




Box 13

Large bound sharebook, 1835 - 1846. Index at front of book - list of forfeited shares, list of members,' subscriptions, stock account, disbursements, transfer tax, catalogue supplement, fines, booksellers etc.




Box 14

Accounts ledger, 1799 - 1834




Box 15

Librarian's ledger, 1804.




Box 16

Librarian's ledger, 1809




Box 17

Reports of the Librarian, 1820, 1822, 1843.




Reports of the Treasurer, Statements of Account, 1816 - 1852.




Annual reports, committee reports, official resolutions and statements (4 folders) 1821 - 1851




Misc. reports, resolutions, draft notices etc. n.d.




Invoices, receipts vouchers, sale of shares (3 folders) 1835 - 1849




Lists of shareholders, lists of paid subscriptions, lists of forfeited shares (2 folders) 1844 - 1856




Box 18

Correspondence (folders) 1816 - 1854


Includes letters re membership, forfeiture of shares, library purchases and donations, accounts, transfer of Library Company to Maryland Historical Society.




Letterbook, 1847 - 1852.





2 ledgers, records of loans of books, 1816 - 1833 and September 1833 - 1843.





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