City Readers Digital Historic Collections at the New York Society Library
The Library’s eighteenth- and nineteenth-century catalogs document the growth of our collection from 1754 to 1850. The earliest catalogs were arranged alphabetically by size, but rather haphazardly: some books might be cataloged under the author’s name (e.g., Dodsley’s Trifels), others under the title (e.g., Description of China, by Abbey Grosier). In the nineteenth century, catalogs listed all books alphabetically by author, including the place and year of publication.
By-laws in catalogs from 1754 to 1789 and in the 1792, 1813, 1838, and 1850 catalogs document the operations and governance of the Library. They also record loan periods (extended for members living outside of the city), fines, membership and shareholders fees, and Library rules, as they changed from year to year. The early catalogs also printed lists of members; the nineteenth century catalogs contain brief histories of the Library.