Skip to main content

MBLC Celebrates 125 Years


The commissioners prepared a special population map of Massachusetts's cities and towns, listing the number of books available at the free public libraries in each municipality. Based on population data from 1890 and collections information from 1893, the map was displayed at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.1

free public libraries of massachusetts map 1893

(Image from Digital Commonwealth collections)

George H. Bartlett, the map's illustrator, was the first principal of the Massachusetts Normal Art School (now MASSART); he taught Edmund C. Tarbell3, an American impressionist painter and member of the Boston School whose paintings hang in museums throughout the Commonwealth and the country.

What else happened in 1893?

  • Local militia and the US Marine Corps overthrew the government of Hawaii's Queen Liliuokalani.4
  • In India, Gandhi committed his first act of civil disobedience.4
  • In Springfield, Mass., Charles and Frank Duryea drove the first gas-powered motorcar on public roads.4
  • One of the largest fires in Boston history, the Lincoln Street Fire (between Chinatown and South Station), cost several lives and dealt millions of dollars of damage to the neighborhood when a storage room of fireworks was ignited by a small fire nearby.5

1. Massachusetts Free Public Library Commission Reports, 1891-98.
2. James Parton Haney, ed. Art Education in the Public Schools of the United States, compiled in 1908. Accessed via Google Books [link].
3. Edmund C. Tarbell - Wikipedia entry [link].
4. 1893 - Wikipedia entry [link].
5. [link].