DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

george washington

The first page of the 1789-1792 charging ledger

The New York Society Library was founded in 1754, giving it the distinction of being the oldest library in the city. It began as a subscription library which anyone could join, and remains so today, with nearly three hundred thousand volumes reflecting the interests of its various members over the past two and a half centuries.

Despite being looted by British soldiers during the Revolutionary War, the library rebuilt its collection and by 1789-1790, when New York was the nation’s capital and Congress occupied the building, it served as the first Library of Congress. During this time it was utilized by many prominent figures easily recognizable to students of American history, including George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and Aaron Burr. We know this due to information contained in the Library’s oldest surviving charging ledger, which recorded borrowing activity during the period between July 1789 and April 1792. Lost for many years, the extremely fragile ledger was recovered in 1934 in a trash pile in the basement of the Library’s former location at 109 University Place and has since been digitized in order to preserve the information contained therein for future generations.

You can explore the ledger here, just click on the name of the person whose checkouts you would like to view.


Jan 20 2009

Presidential Inauguration

by Heather S

Today marks a historic day for our nation.  And, it seems that everywhere I turn it’s what everyone is talking about.  As I channel surfed across the news stations on the television this weekend, one commentator mentioned a bit of interesting trivia. President-elect Obama has opted to include the phrase “so help me God” at the end of the oath of office, which every president has done since George Washington in 1789.  This made me wonder about other facts and tidbits about the inauguration. So, here’s a quiz on inaugural firsts:

  • Whose inaugural ceremony was the first to be broadcast on the radio?  Television?  Internet?
  • Who was the first president to take the oath of office in Washington, DC?
  • Who delivered the longest address?  The shortest address?
  • Who was the only unelected Vice President to become President?
  • Who was the first president inaugurated on January 20th?

To find the answers, look here.

And, if you aren’t able to make the trek to Washington, D.C. or want more information on the inauguration, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies’ website posts maps for the festivities, a program with the schedule of all the performers involved in the ceremonies, luncheon information that includes recipes from the menu, and pictures of the table settings, including the china and the flower arrangements.   If you can’t be there in person, this looks like the best site to make it seem like you really are there.  And, if you want to watch the inauguration with others in the DeKalb area, you can stop at the Chamblee, Clarkston, Redan-Trotti and Wesley Chapel – William C. Brown Libraries where the Inaugural Ceremonies will be shown on the big screen.