From the Archive: Louisa May Alcott Charging Record, 1871
On November 2, 1871, Louisa May Alcott became a member with book borrowing privileges through the Share of Benjamin Willis. The Boston Athenæum began to circulate books in 1827 but only to proprietors who paid an extra five dollar fee on top of their annual assessment. The Library used large ledgers (1827-1872) to record the books members borrowed. The charging books were used before the Library adapted the two card system.
Alcott returned to Boston after traveling abroad in the spring of 1871 and took up residence at 23 Beacon (just across the street from the Athenæum). At this time, Little Men was published in London and Boston and Alcott wrote “Shawl Straps,” an account of her European tour. Come January 1872, Aunt Joe’s Scrap Bag: My Boys was published. Looking at all Alcott accomplished by the end of 1871 and beginning of 1872, one has to wonder how she had the time to read the nineteen titles she borrowed in less than two months’ time.
Below is a transcription of the book titles that Alcott borrowed, with each individual title linked to the Athena record.
Books Borrowed, Volume 25, B.A. 17 1871, page 57.
Transcription by Alexandra Winzeler
Alcott, Louisa M.
|Nov. 2||1871||Received Subscription (Share of Benj. Willis)||$1.50|
|Nov. 2||L. 58||Why did he not die?||Nov. 6|
|Nov. 6.||112.47||Melville Good for Nothing||Nov. 14|
|Nov. 6||112.36||Trollope Gemma||Nov. 14|
|Nov. 6||112.36||“ “ Lenora Casaloni|
|Nov. 14||179.46||A “Half” a Million of Money||1, 2, 3||Nov. 25|
|Nov. 14||112.38||Why Paul Ferroll Killed His Wife||Nov. 17|
|Nov. 17||112.26||The faire gospeller||Nov. 25|
|Nov. 25||R. 76||Dewey. Life & Letters of Miss Sedgwick||Dec. 4|
|Dec. 4||112.67||Sedgwick. Married or Single||1, 2||Dec. 20|
|Dec. 4||112.67||New England a Tale||Dec. 13|
|Dec. 4||J. 32||Forsyth. Novels &Novelists of the 18th Century||Dec. 9|
|Dec. 9||112.211||Austen Northanger Abbey etc.||Dec. 15|
|Dec. 15||J. 53||Francis of Assisi||Dec. 20|
|Dec. 15||112.24||The Hotel du Petit St. Jean||Dec. 20|
|Dec. 20||112.65||Bret Harte Condensed Novels||Dec. 22|
|Dec. 22||112.12||Tom Pippins’ Wedding||Dec. 23|
|Dec. 23||C. 67||Forster’s Charles Dickens||Dec. 28|
|Dec. 28||V. 84||The Fellah||Dec. 30|
|Dec. 30||P. 63||Holinshed London in 1866||Jan. 1|