- For Members
What are Proprietorships?
Membership at the Athenæum has sometimes seemed shrouded in mystery. Because the original corporate structure of the Library was based on a set of “shares,” or “proprietorships,” and because these proprietorships are often handed down from generation to generation in the same families, it is often believed that membership is closed to those who are not part of this lineage.
This is far from true. In fact, from the time the Library was incorporated in 1807, general membership has always been open to anyone wishing to join. We welcome new members into our fold, and hundreds continue to join each year. Nevertheless, the number of proprietorships always remains constant – 1,049 by charter of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Today our 1,049 proprietors are an important part of our larger membership base. Proprietors have the responsibility to elect trustees and officers during the Annual Meeting held each February. Proprietors may also purchase Guest Memberships for friends and family. Because shares are often handed down from generation to generation, there are a limited number available. Granting of proprietorships when they become available is at the Director’s discretion, and criteria usually include the level of overall engagement with the Library and the ongoing financial support of its operations, including the Annual Fund.
Setting up a My Athenæum Profile
All Proprietors now have the opportunity to manage the payment of their annual assessments, their giving history, their event registrations, and more in a secure online environment. Each proprietor's specific share provenance list is even viewable through this online portal. If you are a Proprietor, please log into (or create, if a first-time user) your special online profile here.
By-Laws of the Boston Athenæum