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Justin Winsor

librarian and author

Justin Winsor

Justin Winsor was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 2, 1831. After graduating from Boston High School he entered Harvard University, but left before graduating to study in Paris and Heidelberg (he did, however, finally get his degree with the class of 1853).

In 1866, Winsor was appointed a trustee of the Boston Public Library; he became its superintendent in 1868. During his tenure he advocated and developed a branch library system to get more books into the community and therefore encourage more people to read. In 1877, he became the librarian of Harvard University, in which position he remained until his death.

Winsor published his first major work at the age of nineteen -- A History of Duxbury, Massachusetts, the home of his ancestors. He would go on to author a number of bibliographies and historical works. In 1876 he began a series of monumental publications, the first of which was Bibliography of the Original Quartos and Folios of Shakespeare with Particular Reference to Copies in America. Unfortunately, all but about a hundred copies of this work were destroyed by fire.

Other important works by Winsor include:
The Reader's Handbook of the American Revolution (1879)
Memorial History of Boston (1880-1881, four volumes)
Bibliography of Ptolemy's Geography (1884)
Catalogue of the Kohl Collection of Maps relating to America (1886, published in the Harvard Library Bulletins)
The Narrative and Critical History of America (1889, eight volumes)
Christopher Columbus (1891, four volumes)
Cartier to Frontenac (1894)
The Mississippi Basin (1895)
The Westward Movement (1897)

Winsor was also a founder of the American Library Association, of which he served as president from 1876-1885, and of the American Historical Association, of which he served as president from 1886 to 1887. He died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 22, 1897.

See Also

American Library Association

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This page was last updated on 01/02/2019.