Our Collections

The Athenæum has more than 50,000 volumes collected over the past 200 years.

Historical Collections
The Athenæum has four collections of books gathered in the 18th century: the Social Library (est. 1760), the Philosophical Library (est. 1781), the Holyoke Collection, and the Theological Collection. The Social Library and the Philosophical Library collections contain volumes that were combined to form the initial Athenæum library in 1810. Included are a broad collection of works of literature, history, science, natural history, voyage and travel, religion, philosophy and more. Edward Augustus Holyoke was the first president of the Athenæum; the Holyoke collection is a group of books that were in his personal library. The Theological Collection includes commentaries, theological tracts, and sermons.

19th and 20th Century Books
The Athenæum has a sizable collection of books published in the latter half of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century. Included in this collection are works of literature, biographies, travel books, historical, and scientific works.  A highlight is a special collection of illustrated children’s literature.

Recent Acquisitions
The Athenæum purchases new fiction, mysteries, poetry and popular non-fiction: art, biography, current affairs, history, scientific discovery, and travel. A special collection focus is on books and libraries. The Athenæum also subscribes to periodicals related to the book collections. Books and magazines may circulate to the members of the Athenæum.

Tours are available of the entire library. Please contact the Director.

Learn more about our Conservation Program.