Historic Library

A miniature volume of Dante's work.
A miniature volume of Dante's work.

The historic books represent the largest single group of objects at Longfellow House - Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site. They number approximately 11,000 volumes dating from the fifteenth to twentieth century, and consist of the combined libraries of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Fanny Appleton Longfellow, their five children, grandson Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana, and fifty volumes once owned by the American artist Washington Allston.

The collection illustrates Longfellow's international academic interests, and includes leisure reading and presentation copies from admiring authors and friends as well as family books. Of note are the books in many languages, including Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portugese, Russian, Swedish, Welsh, and others.

German books.
German books from Longfellow's library.

Subjects covered by books in the collection include foreign language dictionaries, novels, collections of poetry and folktales, drama, ancient culture, mythology, biographies, and published letters and histories.

Children's book from 1849.
"The Fairy Ring", a collection of children's tales from 1849.

Significant volumes include:

  • Folios printed by Giambattista Bodoni
  • Illustrated atlases of China, Africa, and Asia from the 1670s
  • Gustave Dore's illustrated works of Dante
  • A 1496 Venetian edition of Plutarch
  • A Danish book about the Greenland Eskimo dialect
  • Children's books from the Longfellow family collection
  • 380 Scandinavian language books, including books in translation

Last updated: December 21, 2017

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