George Peabody Library

Baltimore, United States

George Peabody Library


The George Peabody Library is a library connected to the Johns Hopkins University, focused on research into the 19th century. It was formerly the Library of the Peabody Institute of music in the City of Baltimore, and is located on the Peabody campus at West Mount Vernon Place in the Mount Vernon-Belvedere historic cultural neighborhood north of downtown Baltimore, Maryland. The collections are available for use by the general public, in keeping with the Baltimorean merchant and philanthropist George Peabody's goal to create a library "for the free use of all persons who desire to consult it".

The George Peabody Library was funded by George Peabody (1795–1869). Peabody, having become a wealthy man in Baltimore through commerce during the 1810s and 1820s, following his brief service in the state militia defending the city against the famous British attack during the War of 1812, "gave $300,000 as a beginning sum for the Peabody Institute" in February 1857. The institute was originally planned to open in 1860, but border-state conflict in the region caused by the American Civil War delayed its establishing and construction until 1866. The first George Peabody Library librarian, John Morris, and the Library Committee, chaired by George Pendleton Kennedy, used the war's delays to their advantage. They used this time to study and catalogue the collections of the greatest libraries in the U.S. and Europe. Morris then created a list of 50,000 books, and actively pursued their retrieval regardless of difficulty or expense. This practice was a great success, and was continued by the next librarian, Nathaniel Holmes Morrison. As Morrison's assistant, the scientist Philip Reese Uhler would expand this practice to scientific texts by seeking out experts in several scientific fields for advice. This form of collection development has become a standard for academic libraries.

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