The City Record and Boston News-Letter has been a close observer of the Boston scene for many years. On 25 February 1826 we noted:
"What literary advantages have the mass of our citizens derived from the Athenaeum? Who gets a peep within its lofty walls without a ten-dollar bill? And what genius owes its expansion to the liberal facilities of the Boston Athenaeum ?
When the poor are favored with admission to study the neatly fitted up shelves. of books which adorn the Athenaeum, we shall be convinced of the necessity as well as worth of it, and not before. Things are becoming quite royal in our venerable old city: money buys a ticket for the wealthy to read the Hebrew language, while the industrious, worthy portion of the community, may intellectually starve."
I bet you didn't realize the City Record was that old, did you? Times have changed however, and your humble editor is a member of that august institution now. You can also become a member, or, if you're intellectually curious, visit Acquired Tastes: 200 Years of Collecting for the Boston Athenaeum through 13 July 2007. You will see treasures ranging from a copy of Thomas Paine's Common Sense from George Washington's personal library, rare Boston maps and photographs, a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln, paintings by Allan Rohan Crite, Paul Revere's Boston Massacre broadside, and many other things which will delight and stimulate the imagination. Best of all, you don't need a ten dollar bill to see it: the exhibition is free and open to the public, but only through 13 July 2007. The Boston Athenaeum is located at 10 1/2 Beacon Street, just steps from the State House and the hours are 9-8 on Monday, and 9-5 Tuesday through Friday. Tell them the City Record and Boston News-Letter sent you.