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accounts of the Georgetown and Bladensburg Post Offices. 132
THE EARLIEST FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY MOVEMENT IN WASHINGTON, 1849–1874.
By W. DAWSON JOHNSTON.
(Read before the Society, January 9, 1905.)
Influenced by the establishment of the Boston Public Library, Mr. George Watterston, former Librarian of Congress, on the tenth of February, 1849, published a letter in the National Intelligencer urging the establishment of a free public library. It has struck me, said he, “ that this very desirable object could be obtained by calling upon the citizens to make a small contribution towards its formation in money or books, as might best suit their convenience. A room in the City Hall sufficiently spacious might be assigned for this purpose, and the nucleus of a large and valuable public library immediately formed. There is at present what is called a City Library, owned by private stockholders, to which I believe none have access but those who own stock in it. From my knowledge of the liberality and public spirit of those gentlemen I feel assured that they would not hesitate to aid in the accomplishment of so useful an object by placing their library gratuitously, or for a small equivalent, in the hands of the corporation for the purpose I have mentioned. This would form an admirable foundation for an extensive library, which might be increased from year to year by donations or purchase, till it became a library creditable to the nation as well as the metropolis. The want of such an institution, I need scarcely say, is seriously felt by citizens as well as strangers, who, if at all literary, often find themselves considerably at a loss to pass