Chelmsford Historical Society
Brief Library History

The Social Library

The Social Library was organized in 1794, and incorporated in 1812. Some account of it will be found in connection with the life of its founder, the Rev. Hezekiah Packard. The articles of agreement were signed by seventy-eight persons, making a valuable collection of Chelmsford autographs. In 1801, the Institution and Regulations were printed with the list of books (170). The Institution varies slightly in phraseology from the original  Constitution and reads thus: Every attempt to improve the minds and morals of men is laudable and praiseworthy. Every exertion to entertain and instruct persons of different ages and ranks, and to induce a relish for useful learning and moral science deserves the patronage of the wise and good. Being persuaded that a Social Library, under good regulations, may answer these purposes, We, the Subscribers, do constitute and form ourselves into a Society, this sixth day of. January, 1794, for establishing such a Library in the Town of Chelmsford. And we mutually promise and engage to conform and submit to the following Laws and Rules, which shall be subject, however, to such alterations as shall hereafter be thought proper. The membership fee was two dollars; the annual dues twenty-five cents.

Of the first ninety-three books purchased, but twelve could be classed as fiction. Moral, religious and philosophical works predominated, relieved by a few volumes of poetry or of voyages and travel. The books were kept at the houses of the librarians, of whom the first was Oliver Barron, at whose tavern the books were first lodged. Next they spent a year at Simeon Spaulding's, then several years at the parsonage, and a long time at the house of Captain Caleb Abbott. They were moved about frequently after that, (E. H. Warren thus transported them six times) until no suitable place could be found, and they were stored. Then Mr. William Fletcher cared for them, and finally a room was fitted up in the Town Hall to receive them. Joseph Warren gave $500 for a fund and Adams Emerson $75. In 1893, it was made a free public library, taking advantage of the State provision, the Town appropriating $200, and the State giving $100 worth of books. $50 worth was also given by the library commissioners. The Social Library gave their 1,846 volumes. There was also the Chelmsford Agricultural Library of 101 volumes.

Free Public Library

The Free Public Library of Chelmsford, in the report of 1894, states that the proprietors of the Chelmsford Social Library voted, May 8, 1893, to donate the books belonging to them to the Free Public Library. These were turned over to the trustees, July 1. The South Chelmsford Library also gave their entire collection of books.

The library was first opened to the public, October 7, 1893. The trustees were Mrs. Harriet M. Bartlett, secretary, Luther H. Sargent, Henry S. Perham, chairman, S. Ingersoll Briant, Louisa A. Allen, A. Heady Park.

In 1896, by vote of the Town, the name was changed to "The Adams Library."

The Adams Library

The inadequacy of the accommodations at the Town Hall for the increasing number of volumes led to the making of plans for remodelling of the old brick schoolhouse at the cemetery, when Mr. Amos F. Adams became interested in the project, and other locations were considered. Finally, the present site of the Adams Library was given to the Town by Mr. J. Adams Bartlett, and Captain C. E. A. Bartlett bore the expense of grading it. Mr. Adams then caused to be erected the present elegant building, at a cost of about $30,000.

Amos Francis Adams was born in South Chelmsford, May 26, 1842, and married Alice J. Wellington of Ashby, Mass., December 25, 1865. He was the son of Charles and Nancy Robbins Adams. His line of descent on his father's side is: Amos F., Charles, Isaac, Thomas, Samuel, Timothy, Lieut. Thomas, Henry.

He died, Wednesday, January 4, 1911, at his home in Newton. He received his early education here, and then at the Appleton Academy, New Ipswich. In 1862, he went to Boston and obtained employment in the Quincy Market. In 1866, he became a commission merchant, and later the senior member of the firm of Adams and Chapman, in North Market street. He liked hunting as a diversion, and went sometimes to the West with gun and dogs on a hunting trip. He was generous and affable, and in personal appearance was well-built and handsome. He contributed liberally to the Unitarian organ in Chelmsford and to the erection of All Saints' cloister. He was a member of the Dalhousie Lodge of Masons in Newton and of the Royal Arch Chapter and Gethsemane Commandery. His life-size portrait in oil hangs in the Library.

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