The M. Steinert & Sons Company Music Circulating Library

1902 M. Steinert & Sons Company Music Circulating Library Membership Ticket issued to Dr. G. W. Brown

1902 M. Steinert & Sons Company Music Circulating Library Membership Ticket (front)
1902 M. Steinert & Sons Company Music Circulating Library Membership Ticket (back)

The M. Steinert & Sons Company Music Circulating Library

Illustration of the Steinert Building by Charles H. Overly (1908-1970) (No known copyright restrictions)

The advent of the pneumatic player piano, invented in 1895 by Edwin S. Votey, made piano and organ music accessible to everyone regardless of musical ability. The Pianola and Aeolian pianos were gaining popularity, and M. Steinert & Sons Music Company sold them alongside traditional instruments such as the Steinway and their own Steinert brand pianos. Steinert’s offered patrons a circulating library of Aeolian and Pianola music rolls for a subscription fee of $10 (three months), $15 (six months), or $20 (one year). Subscribers living within 75 miles from Boston were entitled to borrow for up to two weeks up to twelve rolls at a time. Subscribers living more than 75 miles from Boston were allowed to borrow for up to four weeks up to 24 rolls at one time.

The M. Steinert & Sons Music Company operated on “Piano Row” in the Steinert Building at 162 Boylston Street in Boston from 1896 to 2015. At the same address, four stories below street level, is Steinert Hall, a concert auditorium, considered by early-1900s Bostonians to be the “headquarters for the musical and artistic world of cultured Boston.” Steinert Hall was closed to the public in 1942 due to fire code restrictions. M. Steinert & Sons continues to be a top destination for quality pianos and instruments.

The Aeolian Music Company Piano Roll (no known copyright restrictions)
Boston Evening Transcript (Boston, Massachusetts), Saturday, January 6, 1900, Page 22
Advertisement from The New England Magazine, Vol. 18, Page 264, 1896 (No known copyright restrictions)

The Harvard College Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts

1895 Harvard University Bursar’s Office Freshman Security Receipt issued to R. E. Andrews

Harvard University Bursar’s Office Freshman Security Receipt for library privileges dated September 23, 1895 issued to R. E. Andrews (front)
Harvard University Bursar’s Office Freshman Security Receipt for library privileges dated September 23, 1895 issued to R. E. Andrews (back)

Founded in 1636, Harvard College (now Harvard University) and Harvard College Library is the oldest University and private and academic library in the United States.

Established through personal donations from the University’s namesake, John Harvard, a Puritan minister who bequeathed over 400 religious texts to the College on his death, the Library was initially located at the Old College building.

The Old College. From the Harvard University Archives,
Records of Early Harvard Buildings. No known copyright restrictions.

In 1676, The Library moved to Harvard Hall, where it remained for nearly 100 years until the building and library collection was destroyed by fire in 1764.

The original Harvard Hall destroyed by fire on January 24, 1764. Location of the Harvard College Library from 1676 to 1764. Artist unknown. No known copyright restrictions.
News article detailing the fire of 1764. The Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), February 23, 1764. No known copyright restrictions.

Rebuilt in 1766, the Library reopened with a new inventory of over 15,000 volumes, an inventory primarily donated by Thomas Hollis of England and books that were re-collected from students after the fire. Harvard Library’s online catalog system, HOLLIS (Harvard On-Line Library Information System), is thus named in his honor. Through a generous endowment provided by Hollis upon his death in 1774, the Library was able to continue purchasing books for the library, thus maintaining its position as the most extensive library in the United States. 

Harvard Hall, rebuilt in 1766. Location of the Harvard College Library from 1766 to 1841.
Pre-1925 public domain postcard.

Due to this continued growth, the Library moved once again in 1841 to Gore Hall. By 1912, Gore Hall was no longer suitable to hold the ever-growing collection, so the Library was disbursed into smaller specialty libraries.  

Gore Hall. Location of the Harvard College Library from 1841 to 1912.
Pre-1925 public domain postcard.

Libraries of the Harvard Library System

 • Andover-Harvard Theological Library (1911)

 • Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library (1903)

 • George F. Baker Library (1927)

 • Biblioteca Berenson (Florence, Italy) (1961)

 • Botany Libraries

 • Godfrey Lowell Cabot Science Library (1973)

 • Francis A. Countway Library (1958)

 • Dumbarton Oaks Research Library (Washington, DC) (1940)

 • Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology (1861)

 • Fine Arts Library (1895)

 • H.C. Fung Library (2005)

 • Monroe C. Gutman Library (1972)

 • Harvard Film Archive (1979)

 • Harvard Kennedy School Library and Knowledge Services (formerly the Harvard Graduate School of Public Administration) (1936)

 • Harvard Law School Library (1817)

 • Harvard University Archives (1851)

 • Harvard-Yenching Library (1928)

 • Arthur A. Houghton Library (1942)

 • Thomas W. Lamont Library (1949)

 • Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library (1976)

 • Frances Loeb Design Library (1969)

 • Robbins Library of Philosophy (1905)

 • Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Radcliffe (1943)

 • Alfred Marston Tozzer Library (1866)

 • Harry Elkins Widener Library (1915)

 • John G. Wolbach Library (1934)

At 15 million volumes, The Harvard College Library continues to hold one of the largest collections in the United States, surpassed only by the Library of Congress. 

Robert Eaton Andrews

Robert Eaton Andrews was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 4, 1878.  He earned his B.A. from Harvard University in 1899, and his M.D. from Harvard University Medical School in 1903. He was a resident of Springfield, Massachusetts, until his death in 1963.  

Charles F. Mason

Charles F. Mason (1860-1947), graduated from Harvard in 1882 and subsequently served as the Bursar of the University for 34 years from 1887-1921. 

The Forbes Library, Northampton, Massachusetts

Forbes Library, Northampton, MA (pre-1923 postcard – public domain)

The Forbes Library, also known as “the castle on the hill,” due to its solitary location, opened on October 23, 1894 at 20 West St, Northampton, Massachusetts.  Judge Charles Edward Forbes (1795-1881), a desiring a public library for the citizens of Northampton, left in his will a large sum for “purchase of a site and erection of a building for the accommodation of a public library, and for the purchase of books etc. to be placed therein for the use of the inhabitants of the said town of Northampton and their successors forever.”

William C. Brocklesby (1841-1910), who had designed a number of buildings at nearby Smith College, was commissioned to design and build a “fireproof building” to house the new library.  Brocklesby designed a Richardsonian Romanesque, three-story stone building with an all steel frame and a stone, slate and copper exterior. The large building could accommodate over 400,000 volumes.  The library underwent a complete renovation between 1998 and 2001 and is listed on the Register of Historic Buildings.  The Forbes Library is also home to the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library & Museum.