Boston Athenaeum Continues Historical Work Amid Covid-19

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Many consider the Boston Athenaeum the city's "hidden gem," as it is a home to thousands of rare books, historical documents and works of art.

According to Stanford Calderwood Director Leah Rosovsky, the private library on Beacon Street has artifacts from several different periods in time for members to view, and is one of the oldest libraries in the United States.

"It was started by a group of Bostonians who wanted to bring really more culture and more availability," she said. "Especially to news, to the Boston area, and from there its grown."

The group was founded in 1807, but the building wasn't built until 1847, opening up to the public officially in 1849.

It's walls contain pieces of history, including original World War II posters, books from George Washington’s personal library, the prototype of Boston Public Garden's George Washington statue and even a book bound with human skin.

Rosovsky tells WBZ's James Rojas that despite the pandemic, the staff is still able to complete their preservation efforts.

“We have a conservation lab, and what’s changed is the way we think about who is in the lab at what time,” she said. "We've also continued to collect both our regular circulating library books and also our rare materials.”

The library is also posting videos on its Facebook page, showing artifact restorations and answering questions from history buffs.

Director of Communications Maria Daniels said the building has five-floors of history, including a basement level area.

“Anyone can come and request to research with these books, to study these books,” Daniels said.

As of Nov. 23, library is currently closed for disinfecting and contact tracing, expecting to open again within a few days.

The Athenaeum is typically open to members for book pick-up and drop-off in the lobby and by appointment for reading rooms, with day passes available to non-members.

WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas (@JamesRojasWBZ) reports.

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(Photo: James Rojas/WBZ NewsRadio)

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