City Readers Digital Historic Collections at the New York Society Library
Circulation Records, 1789-1805
As early as 1789, the Society Library's librarians noted the coming and going of books between the Library its membership by hand with quill and ink in ledgers, large blank books designed for record keeping. These books, known as charging ledgers, survive today in our institutional archive and tell us who read what and when, bringing the daily lives and interests of a group of New Yorkers into focus. In tracking the movement of books, circulation records also add considerably to the history of the Library's collections.
Digital access is currently available for the first two of the Library's surviving charging ledgers, from 1789 to 1792 and 1799 to 1805. In addition to high resolution images of every page of the books themselves, City Readers also offers full transcriptions of the manuscript ledgers. You can look through both ledgers page by page in a book viewer and study the manuscript records yourselves, or click on a page to see complete transcriptions of the borrowing transactions recorded there.