Before the Public Library explores the emergence of community-based lending libraries in the Atlantic World before the advent of the Public Library movement in the mid-nineteenth century. Essays by eighteen scholars from a range of disciplines seek to place, for the first time, community libraries within an Atlantic context over a two-century period. Taking a comparative approach, this volume shows that community libraries played an important – and largely unrecognized – role in shaping Atlantic social networks, political and religious movements, scientific and geographic knowledge, and economic enterprise. Libraries had a distinct role to play in shaping modern identities through the acquisition and circulation of specific kinds of texts, the fostering of sociability, and the building of community-based institutions.
Classical Receptions in Early New England
David A. Lupher
In Greeks, Romans, and Pilgrims David Lupher examines the availability, circulation, and uses of Greek and Roman culture in the earliest period of the British settlement of New England. This book offers the first systematic correction to the dominant assumption that the Separatist settlers of Plymouth Plantation (the so-called “Pilgrims”) were hostile or indifferent to “humane learning”— a belief dating back to their cordial enemy, the May-pole reveler Thomas Morton of Ma-re Mount, whose own eccentric classical negotiations receive a chapter in this book. While there have been numerous studies of the uses of classical culture during the Revolutionary period of colonial North America, the first decades of settlement in New England have been neglected. Utilizing both familiar texts such as William Bradford’s Of Plimmoth Plantation and overlooked archival sources, Greeks, Romans, and Pilgrims signals the end of that neglect.