Library \\ About
The Phillips Library Reading Room
The roots of the Peabody Essex Museum date to the 1799 founding of the East India Marine Society. Membership was limited to those “such as have actually navigated those seas about or beyond the Cape of Good Hope or round Cape Horn.” The society’s charter included a provision for the establishment of a “cabinet of natural and artificial curiosities,” which is what we today would call a museum. Society members brought to Salem a diverse collection of objects from all over the world, including Asia, Africa, Oceania, India, and the northwest coast of America. In addition to objects, the bylaws specifically stated the intent of the society to collect “books of history, voyages, travels and of navigation and new and correct charts,” and “valuable and scarce publications in any language.” These collections became what is known today as PEM’s Phillips Library.