Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Signers’ Libraries on LibraryThing

Did you know that in addition to the libraries of more than 1.5 million members from around the world, LibraryThing is also home to the libraries of (so far) 19 Signers of the Declaration of Independence? The Legacy Libraries project started with a Signer (Thomas Jefferson), and we’ve continued to add to our “collection” over the past few years. You can see the status and source notes we’ve found so far for all 56 Signers here. Of the 19 that have been entirely or substantially added to LibraryThing already are four of the five members of the committee responsible for drafting the Declaration:

  • Thomas Jefferson (Virginia), 5,597 cataloged
  • John Adams (Massachusetts), 1,741 cataloged
  • Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania), 3,747 cataloged
  • Roger Sherman (Connecticut), 105 cataloged*
  • The other Signers represented on LibraryThing so far:

  • John Hancock (Massachusetts), 91 cataloged
  • George Clymer (Pennsylvania), 41 cataloged
  • Elbridge Gerry (Massachusetts), 326 cataloged
  • Button Gwinnett (Georgia), 12 cataloged
  • Stephen Hopkins (Rhode Island), 91 cataloged
  • Richard Henry Lee (Virginia), 503 cataloged
  • Thomas Lynch, Jr. (South Carolina), 38 cataloged
  • Thomas McKean (Delaware), 49 cataloged
  • Lewis Morris (New York), 113 cataloged
  • Robert Treat Paine (Massachusetts), 550 cataloged
  • George Read (Maryland), 13 cataloged
  • Caesar Rodney (Delaware), 13 cataloged
  • George Taylor (Pennsylvania), 35 cataloged
  • John Witherspoon (New Jersey), 988 cataloged
  • George Wythe (Virginia), 369 cataloged
  • All told, the Signers’ libraries added so far include 14,421 titles. You can check out the top books shared among the Signers’ libraries here. Top five:

  • Commentaries on the Laws of England by Sir William Blackstone
  • A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America by John Adams
  • The Spectator by Joseph Addison et al.
  • Euclid’s Elements
  • Virgil’s Poems
  • If you’re signed into LibraryThing, see what books you have in common with Signers of the Declaration of Independence on your Legacy Libraries stats page (just choose Advanced options and compare the Signers to you). Here’s my list, or see Tim’s.

    Browse the information we’ve collected so far about the other Signers’ libraries here; updates and new information is always appreciated; drop me an email anytime or post a message in the group! We’re always collecting new sources and adding new books for these libraries, so every little piece is welcome.

    Another key Founding-era library on LibraryThing is that of George Washington, who was otherwise engaged in July 1776. You might have seen one of his books in the news recently.

    Beyond the Signers are the broader Libraries of Early America; we’ve found data on more than 1,250 pre-1825 libraries so far, with more added regularly. Or there are the libraries of Mayflower passengers (one of my favorite groups to work with at the moment).

    We’ll be continuing to catalog additional libraries, and to enhance the tools we use to analyze, display and share this material with the world, so stay tuned!

    * The fifth member of the committee, Robert R. Livingston of New York, left Congress before the Declaration was signed. His library on LibraryThing is in progress. Also still to be added is the library of Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress when the Declaration was signed.

    Labels: jefferson, john adams, legacies, legacy libraries


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