Celebrating Research

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Boston Public Library

Library Overview

The Research Library at the Boston Public Library holds extensive special collections in a wide variety of subjects. The Rare Books & Manuscripts Department houses more than 600,000 printed items and 1 million manuscripts. Important holdings include large collections on colonial and revolutionary Massachusetts, anti-slavery manuscripts, the Barton Collection of Shakespeareana, and the Galatea Collection on the history of women. In addition there are many important examples of medieval manuscripts, incunabula, and fine printing.

The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center includes 200,000 historic maps and 5,000 atlases documenting the evolution of the printed map from woodcuts, copperplate engravings, and lithographs to the latest computer technologies. The geographical focus of these maps, atlases, and globes is the world, Europe, and America, with a particular attention to New England, Massachusetts, and Boston from the 15th century to the present day.

The Fine Arts Department holds more than 125,000 titles documenting art, architecture, and the decorative arts, with special focus on Boston and New England. The Music Department houses 150,000 volumes concerning every facet of musical study, including biography, history and criticism, ethnomusicology, theory and composition, and music education; the collected editions of all major composers; musical first editions and other rare items; and important music indexes, encyclopedias, and bibliographies.

The Print Department has built collections totaling over 100,000 prints and drawings and 650,000 photographs. Some of the outstanding holdings include works by Rembrandt, Durer, Rowlandson, Goya, Daumier, and Toulouse-Lautrec. It also houses the Boston Pictorial Archive, the largest public collections of photographs of Boston in earlier days; Civil War photographs; and 19th-century photographs of native peoples and local architecture from all over the world.

The Boston Public Library
Copley Square
700 Boylston Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
Leventhal Map Center Web site: http://www.maps.bpl.org/
(617) 536-5400 (t)
(617) 536-7758 (f)