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Board of Trustees - Former Trustees
Justin Winsor
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Justin Windsor photo Spacer graphic

Trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1867-1868. Superintendent of the BPL, 1868-1877. Historian, author and librarian. Born 1831 in Boston and died 1897 in Cambridge. A graduate of Boston Latin School, Justin Winsor went on to attend Harvard University. During his freshman year, he compiled and published his first book, A History of the Town of Duxbury. Although he did not graduate with his class, he would eventually receive his degree with the class of 1853 and write various articles and poetry for periodicals until his appointment to the Board of Trustees in 1866. On the death of the superintendent and during the illness of the assistant superintendent, Justin Winsor was asked to take charge of the Library in 1868. He proved to be a capable manager and became the permanent superintendent, serving nine years. During his tenure, Justin Winsor advocated and developed a branch library system to get more books into the Boston communities and thereby encourage people to read. Misguided municipal politics led to his resignation from Boston and to a new position as Librarian of Harvard University in 1877. A pioneering librarian in the young American library community, Justin Winsor helped found the American Library Association and served a number of terms as its President, as well as continuing to be a prolific writer, publishing numerous articles and notes, and a number of books on American history up to his death at age sixty-six.

“Justin Winsor”, Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. [Online database] Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale Group, 2003 at via BPL Electronic Resources web page.

Wadlin, Horace G. The Public Library of the City of Boston: A History. Boston: Trustees of the Boston Public Library, 1911.

Whitehill, Walter Muir. Boston Public Library: A Centennial History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1956.

“Justin Winsor”, photograph by A.W. Elson & Co., appearing in The Public Library of the City of Boston: A History, between pp.76-77.