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The First White House Library - Penn State Series in the History of the Book (Paperback)
  • The First White House Library - Penn State Series in the History of the Book (Paperback)

The First White House Library - Penn State Series in the History of the Book (Paperback)

Paperback 416 Pages / Published: 07/07/2014
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Published in association with the Bibliographical Society of America and the National First Ladies' Library

Although many early U.S. presidents were avid readers and book collectors-George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, to name a few-they usually brought their own books to the White House and removed them at the end of their terms. It was not until 1850 that Millard and Abigail Fillmore established the first official White House collection. This catalogue of the library that they assembled not only reveals much about their own preoccupations and interests and those of the age they lived in, but also provides insight into American library history, reading history, and book trade and distribution networks.

Aside from the editor, the contributors are William Allman, Elizabeth Thacker-Estrada, and Sean Wilentz. For more information about the National First Ladies Libraries visit http://www.firstladies.org.

Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press
ISBN: 9780271037141
Number of pages: 416
Weight: 939 g
Dimensions: 254 x 178 x 29 mm


"Do not be misled by the modest title of this book or by the fact that one of our least-known presidents was behind the first White House library. This book brings together wonderful essays, starting with that by historian Sean Wilentz, and going on to others on the role of Mrs. Fillmore, the library room, the process of forming the library, and, of course, the library's contents. The catalogue proper of this library that represented the 'collective mind of the age' contains mini-essays explaining how each book fit in. This is library history at its best; in other words, it's cultural history. This splendid contribution to American history deserves to be widely available."

--Kenneth E. Carpenter, former Assistant Director for Research Resources in the Harvard University Library and the Harvard College Library

"When Abigail Fillmore moved into the White House with her husband and daughter, they made an innovation. A family of book lovers, they created a national collection for an in-home library that they left to the nation. Catherine Parisian's exhaustive and meticulous archival work reconstructs the collection and how it was housed. While Fillmore's rise to the presidency has been described as exemplifying the American dream, Parisian reveals the foundation of the dream to be education and family life. The Fillmores--especially Abigail--applied these values to the president's house in the full knowledge that it is the peoples' house. The scholarly lens of the history of the book is used to illuminate the Fillmores' home life in Washington and, by extension, a model of middle-class domesticity for the nation."

--Caroline F. Sloat, Director of Book Publication, American Antiquarian Society

"This book's greatest strength is the information it provides about the individual titles Fillmore collected for the first White House Library. For those interested in the history of either the White House or Millard Fillmore, the catalogue's numerous insights into the selection process and detailed discussion of which editions were most likely included in the collection will also be useful."

--Carli Spina, RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage

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