Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Mathers are Finished!

I have at long last completed cataloging the known portions of the Mather Family Library at LibraryThing. This turned into one of those projects that once begun was rather more expansive than it first appeared, so it took longer than I expected to finish, but I think it came out well in the end.

The library contains copies of books owned by several members of the Mather family, from patriarch Richard to Increase and Cotton (at left), their cousins and nephews, sons, daughters and grandsons (the notorious Boston loyalist minister Mather Byles) and several other relations. The books are now widely scattered, although the majority of them are currently housed at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, MA. The MHS and BPL also hold portions of the collection.

Many if not most of the books contain ownership inscriptions, which are noted for those where either the old bibliography (from 1910) or the current library records contain them. The copies at MHS have been examined personally and verified, but the others I haven't physically looked at yet.

Not surprisingly, the Mathers don't share many titles with modern readers (or at least LT-users, I'm sure there's somebody out there with a few obscure 17th century religious pamphlets). Those they do share are ones you might expect: Machiavelli's The Prince, Thomas Browne's Religio Medici, Ovid, Descartes, Plutarch, &c. No Shakespeare for this lot, of course.

This is the first time (so far as I know) that the entire known collection of the Mathers (there may be a few more scattered titles out there - if anyone knows of such, please let me know) has been compiled in one place: the 1910 bibliography did not include a large portion of those held at AAS; those are included here, and all records have been updated to the extent possible.

An interesting look, I think, at the bookshelves of the most important early New England divines.


Jonathan S. said...

I was at Powell's Books a short while ago, and got to hold and browse through this book, It was pretty exciting.

JBD said...

Cool! Another one to add. Thanks!

RJO said...

Thanks indeed for the Mather library -- it will be great fun to browse. I think I have a picture of the Mather tomb on Copps Hill somewhere if you want it to add to the profile.

Shouldn't there be a copy of the Magnalia in the family library? Obviously it just didn't get added to any of the published catalogs. (Perhaps all Mather-authored works should be added to the collection?) I have an incomplete copy of the Magnalia with an interesting inscription, as you can see here:


A nice association copy.

JBD said...

A nice copy indeed! I intentionally decided not to add any Mather-authored works that weren't known to be in their collection (partly because between the lot of them there are a massive number of sermons and I didn't want to overwhelm the collection with those). I think, however, that there is a copy of the Magnalia in the listing of Mather Byles' library (most of which is entered now but there are a few titles - the copies of which have been scattered to the winds - which I need to add). So it will probably appear sooner or later.