Lighthouses were often time located in remote areas and as such had no access to city services such as libraries, opera houses, entertainment, etc. that most people enjoyed who lived in a town or city. As light keeping was a lonely profession in most cases supplies were brought to them by lighthouse tender ships. One of the items the tender supplied was a library box on each visit as pictured to the left. Library boxes were filled with books and switched from station to station to supply different reading materials to the families.
In 1876 portable libraries were first introduced in the Light-House Establishment and furnished to all light vessels and inaccessible offshore light stations with a selection of reading materials. These libraries were contained in a portable wooden case, each with a printed listing of the contents posted inside the door. Proper arrangements were made for the exchange of these libraries at intervals, and for revision of the contents as books became obsolete in accordance with suggestions obtained from public library authorities.
The books were carefully selected from books of a good standard appropriate to the families who would use them. While largely fiction, other classes of literature were included in reasonable proportions including technical books when requested. The books and periodicals contained in the libraries remained the property of the Light-House Establishment and each was marked in the front with the official Light-House Establishment bookplate. The beautiful 3" x 4 ½" bookplate label bears a wonderful image of an iron pile lighthouse and Minot’s Ledge Light, and a lightship and bears the words "The Property of the Light House Establishment".
A sample description of some of the books found in a library are listed below:
Ripley, M. M., CAPTAIN FRACASSE FROM THE FRENCH OF THEOPHILE GAUTIER. New York. 1880. 411 p. A light, readable translation from the original.
Ainsworth, William Harrison. OVINGDEAN GRANGE. London. nd. c.1870. 310p. A tale of 17th Century English Cavalier. T
Willert, P. F., THE REIGN OF LEWIS XI. New Yord. nd. c.1880. 300 p. Provides a connected, clear and full account of the events and the nature of the reign which left France a consolidated and powerful nation, fully prepared for the part she was destined to play in the great struggle of the next century.
Lamont, James. SEASONS WITH THE SEA-HORSES; OR, SPORTING ADVENTURES IN THE NORTHERN SEAS. New York. 1861. 282p. Describes sailing and sporting adventures in the northern latitudes. Illustrated.
Taylor, Bayard. AT HOME AND ABROAD – A SKETCH-BOOK OF LIFE, SCENERY AND MEN. New York. 1893. 500 p. Decorated cloth. With black-and-white engravings, etc.
Torpelius, Z., THE SURGEON’S STORIES – TIMES OF CHARLES XII. Chicago. 1884. 349 p. Third in a series of six Swedish historical romances, translated from the Swedish.
Frazer, R. W., BRITISH INDIA. New York. 1897. 399 p. Green decorated cloth. Part of The Story of the Nations Series, in which the story of each nation’s life is related, and its picturesque and noteworthy periods and episodes presented. The total series presents a comprehensive narrative of the chief events in the story of the nations of the world. A bookshelf showing titles of other publications from the History Of The Nations appears in the lower portion of the front cover. Most volumes in series illustrated with black-and-white photographs and drawings and front fold-out maps, etc.
Chaillu, Paul Du. MY APINGI KINGDOM: WITH LIFE IN THE GREAT SAHARA, AND SKETCHES OF THE CHASE OF THE OSTRICH, HYENA, &c. New York. 1870. 254p. Beautiful brown decorated cloth. With black-and-white engravings, etc.
Duffy, Bella. THE TUSCAN REPUBLICS (FLORENCE, SIENA, PISA, AND LUCCA) WITH GENOA. New York. 1893. 456 p. Green decorated cloth. Part of The Story of the Nations Series, in which the story of each nation’s life is related, and its picturesque and noteworthy periods and episodes presented. The total series presents a comprehensive narrative of the chief events in the story of the nations of the world. A bookshelf showing titles of other publications from the History Of The Nations appears in the lower portion of the front cover. Most volumes in series illustrated with black-and-white photographs and drawings and front fold-out maps, etc.
Mahan, A. T., THE GULF AND INLAND WATERS. [Volume III of the Three volume set of The Navy In The Civil War. New York. 1883. 267 p. Blue leather with embossed decoration and gold lettering. This is the third in a three volume set of The Navy In The Civil War: Volume one "The Blockade and the Cruisers" by James Russell Soley, Professor U.S. Navy. Volume two "The Atlantic Coast" by Daniel Ammen, Rear Admiral U.S. Navy. Volume three "The Gulf and Inland Waters" by A.T. Mahan, Commander, U.S. Navy. This is the story of the navy and its engagements during the Civil War. An attractive volume in very good condition with all maps present.