First Founders of the Boston Public Library

Photo of George Ticknor


Trustee of the Library, 1852-1866; President of the Board, 1865. Born, Boston, August 1, 1791; died, Boston, January 26, 1871. Dartmouth College, class of 1807; lawyer and author; Professor of French and Spanish languages and of Belles-Lettres at Harvard College, 1819-1835.

Photo of Edward Everett


Trustee of the Library, 1852-1864. President of the Board, 1852-1864. Born, Dorchester (Mass.), April 11, 1794; died, Boston, January 15, 1865. Harvard College, class of 1811; clergyman, Boston, 1813; appointed Professor of Greek at Harvard, 1814; Representative in Congress, 1825-1835; Governor of Massachusetts, 1836-1839; Minister to Great Britain, 1840-1845; President of Harvard College, 1846-1849; Secretary of State (U.S.), 1852; Senate (U.S.), 1853-1854.

Photo of Nicholas Vattemare


Advocate of the establishment of a public library in Boston. Born in Paris near the close of the eighteenth century. In early life, a student of surgery with some army practice in that profession. Of wide European reputation as a ventriloquist and minor theatrical performer. After 1827 devoted his time and private fortune to the promotion of a system of international exchange of books, and in this connection advocated the establishment of free public libraries and museums in all countries.

Photo of Joshua Bates


Liberal benefactor of the Library. Made two generous gifts of $50,000. Born Weymouth (Massachusetts), 1788; died London (England), September 24, 1864. Financier; partner in Baring Brothers & Co.

Joshua Bates's Original Letter to Mayor Seaver, October 1, 1852

Photo of Josiah Quincy, Jr.


Mayor of Boston, December 1845-January 1849. Born 1802, died 1888. Believed in Vattemare's plan so thoroughly that he made the first cash gift to the Library-the sum of $5,000. He made the gift anonymously with the condition that "$10,000 be raised at large for the same purpose and that the library should be as fully used by all, as may be consistent with the safe-keeping of the property."