Salem Athenaeum

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Location of the Salem Athenaeum since 1907, a Federal style building on Essex Street

The Salem Athenaeum, founded in 1810, is one of the oldest membership libraries in the United States. The Athenaeum is located at 337 Essex Street in Salem, Massachusetts in the McIntire Historic District.


Plummer Hall, formerly Salem Athenaeum before sold in 1905 to the Essex Institute

The Salem Athenaeum was founded in 1810 by the merger of two antecedent organizations: the Social Library, founded in 1760, and the Salem Philosophical Library, founded in 1781. The first president was Edward Augustus Holyoke.

The Athenaeum's first permanent building was constructed in the 1850s with a large bequest from Caroline Plummer. In 1905 the Athenaeum sold that building, known as Plummer Hall, to the Essex Institute (now the Peabody Essex Museum), and with the proceeds constructed the building it currently occupies, at 337 Essex Street, which was dedicated in 1907.

The collections include over 50,000 volumes on diverse topics.[1][2]

Notable proprietors[edit]

See also[edit]

Salem – 1820


  1. ^ Salem Athenaeum Official Website (accessed Oct. 9, 2009)
  2. ^ The Salem Athenæum, 1810–1910 by Joseph Nickerson Ashton (Berkeley press, 1917) [1]

3. Clemons, J., & Wiggin, C. (1968). Vignettes of Library History: No. 6: Salem Athenaeum. The Journal of Library History (1966–1972), 3(3), 257–260. Retrieved from

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°31′14″N 70°54′02″W / 42.520429°N 70.900502°W / 42.520429; -70.900502