“The Song of the Library Staff” by Sam Walter Foss

"The Song of the Library Staff" by Sam Walter Foss

At the Phillips Library we hold many treasures on a vast number of topics.  I recently uncovered a delightful piece written by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911), one-time librarian at the Somerville Public Library.  An avid poet, Foss is primarily known for such works as “The House by the Side of the Road.”  In 1906, Foss attended the American Library Association’s annual conference in Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island, where he read his new set of poems, collectively called The Song of the Library Staff, to the 890 attendees.

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“I am more than Tommy Townes” African Americans at the Phillips Library

Envelope - Thomas Townes to father, Moses Townes

Envelope, letter written by Thomas Townes to his father, Moses Townes, August 1919

In honor of Black History Month, I looked into our holdings to highlight a manuscript collection created primarily by African Americans.  While we have many collections centered on the history of African Americans, many of these materials were written and maintained by white abolitionists with the hopes of raising the status of blacks in nineteenth-century America.  I made it my goal to find a collection written by African Americans.  This led me to MSS 349, the Townes Family Papers, 1911-1931, which includes materials created by three generations of an African American family from Newburyport, Massachusetts.  Read more

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful…

Phillips Library Reading Room Book DisplayWith the 2014 Winter Olympics right around the corner, and the foot of snow on the ground here in southern New England, I decided to delve into our collections to create a display highlighting all things winter.  I was pleased to discover materials ranging from the early nineteenth century through to the mid-twentieth, chronicling everything from the art in a snowflake to the finer points of curling.  Read more