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Time Travel Through Book Titles

I’ve worked at the Falmouth Public Library, in the Reference Department, for almost 20 years. That’s a pretty long time, and I would have said that I pretty much knew everything that was on the shelves in Reference. Much to my surprise I accidentally uncovered a previously unknown gem last week! I was helping Nick McCavitt, who writes for the Falmouth Patch as well as being a FPL employee, research the arrival of electricity in the town of Falmouth. When looking through the 1909 town annual report, I discovered tucked in the back of the volume something called Falmouth Free Public Library Bulletin, Accessions January 1, 1909 to December 31, 1910.

This little bulletin listed everything that the library purchased, along with the call number. So if you are interested in what the town was reading in 1909, you have a complete record.  What did we buy in 1909? One title that caught my eye was The Lost Art of Conversation; selected essays by Horatio Sheafe Krans. Who knew that the art of conversation was lost in 1909?!  There certainly are some familiar names on the list, such as Jane Austen, Rudyard Kipling, and Jack London. However, the unfamiliar definitely outweigh the familiar. Have you ever read a series of novels by Amy Brooks which includes Dorothy Dainty at Home, Dorothy Dainty at the Shore, Dorothy Dainty in the City, and Dorothy Dainty’s Gay Times?

I also got to wondering if any of the books we purchased in 1909 might still be in the library.  One title caught my eye as a possible keeper, A Romance of Barnstable by Mary Matthews Bray, and sure enough it is still on our shelf in our local history collection! Now that must have some time travel possibilities in it (just reading this 1909 list of acquisitions feels a bit like time travel).  It was so popular at the time, that we had it rebound in 1918, which I know because the binder stamp is inside the book. The title page tells us it was published in Boston by Richard G. Badger, The Gorham Press. Oh I also learned that the library hours in 1909 were Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 3 to 6 and 7 to 9.

This one bulletin interested me so much that I started looking for other acquisition lists in other volumes of the town report. Sure enough I found a smattering of them from 1903 – 1921, at which point it is unclear if the library stopped printing them because the list was too long, or we just stopped binding them in with the town reports. I’ll look into the others at another time and share some of what we were reading in Falmouth during other years. In the meantime, if you want to do a little time travel, just come to the Reference Room!

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