Terre Haute Public Library Accession Records
Dates: circa 1882-1891
Accession Number: VCPL 13
Donor: Administration, VCPL
Description: Two ledger books in a flat storage box


Although the provision for public libraries in Indiana dates as far back as the first state constitution of 1816, the history of a public library in Vigo County reveals a series of fits and starts throughout the mid-nineteenth century. In Terre Haute, county, township, and city libraries were established, overlapped, and controlled by various bodies from township trustees to private associations. But by 1881, a state law passed which directly connected the establishment of a free public library with the common schools of cities having ten thousand inhabitants or more.

Terre Haute seized this opportunity to firmly establish a public library in the city to be governed and operated by the Board of School Trustees and funded by city property taxes. The refurbished and reorganized institution which resulted was opened on July 1, 1882 on the second floor at 624 1/2 Main Street (Wabash Avenue). This library is considered the forerunner of today's Vigo County Public Library.

 Content and Scope of the Collection

This collection includes two ledger books from the early Terre Haute Public Library which contain the accession records of books, periodicals, pamphlets, and papers belonging to the library. The first book register covers the time period from May 20, 1882 to June 1, 1891 and includes such information as the accession number, date of accession, author and title, publishers, volume, edition and date, size and style, through whom secured, cost, case, and shelf location. The beginning records indicate that the earliest material was secured through the Terre Haute Library Association. Later records show specific company names where material was ordered and acquired from.

The second ledger contains accession numbers, titles, and shelf locations, and sometimes includes date of publication and volume numbers. The ledger itself does not appear to be dated. However, it was wrapped in butcher paper and marked with the date 1891-?. It is possible that VCPL Administration knew the origin and date of this ledger and that it was the succeeding record book after the first book register.