M-114: Records of the Saint Louis Lyceum | UMSL
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M-114: Records of the Saint Louis Lyceum

DATE: ca. 1820-1851

CREATOR: Saint Louis Lyceum

SCOPE: The collection comprises the earliest extant public library west of the Mississippi, and covers a range of subjects-- classics, travel, exploration, literature and science, offering a glimpse of what the earliest citizens of St. Louis read.

EXTENT: One linear foot of manuscripts, foundational archives and other documents, including circulation and accession records, meeting minutes and other records; approximately 500 printed books and pamphlets from this early book collection, some with association annotations, original ownership marks, or bookplates.

The Constitution, By-laws, and Meeting Minutes of the Lyceum were bound together in one large hand-written book.

The circulation records of the Lyceum have been microfilmed.

The constitution, by-laws, and membership of the Mechanics' Institute of St. Louis, an allied organization, are also available digitally. 

HISTORY: The Saint Louis Lyceum was a public forum for intellectual programs and self-improvement in the mid-nineteenth century. Founded in the 1830's, it is important because it maintained and developed the first public subscription library in St. Louis, that of the St. Louis Library Association, founded in the early 1820's. The archives and book collections of the two early libraries were bought by the Mercantile Library in the early 1850's, and became a cornerstone bibliographic collection at the Mercantile. This collection was reassembled from the stacks of the Mercantile through study of the original accession records concerning the acquisition in 1851.

ACCESS: This collection is available for on-site use only in the Rare Book and Manuscripts Reading Room. Some of the material in Special Collection M-114 may be photocopied, digitally scanned or photographed, subject to condition. For collections marked limited access, researchers are advised to contact the library at least three business days in advance of their visit to submit a request to view the physical material.

The holdings of Special Collection M-114 are accessible through a card catalog and a supplemental card file.

The Constitution, By-laws, and Meeting Minutes of the Lyceum were bound together in one large hand-written book.

The circulation records of the Lyceum have been microfilmed.

The constitution, by-laws, and membership of the Mechanics' Institute of St. Louis, an allied organization, are also available digitally.

Researchers are advised to call ahead concerning changes in hours due to University intersessions and holidays. The St. Louis Mercantile Library is located on levels one and two of the Thomas Jefferson Library building.

In observance of security procedures, certain services may not be available shortly before the daily closing time.

Preferred Citation: When citing the material from this collection, the preferred citation is: From the Special Collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.