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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Most Precious Cargo for Lighthouses Across America was a Traveling Library


(Photo: Boston Public Library/flickr)

From the vantage point of a 19th century lighthouse, a small, slow ship would appear every few months on the horizon. A woman, her husband and their children might look out at the glistening sea in anticipation from their tower: the shipment was finally here. They’d haul supplies from the boat; cleaning rags, paint, milk, and possibly the most awaited item: a thick wooden carrying case with brass hinges, filled with books.

A portable library from the Seaman's Bethel containing books from the American Seamen's Friend Society,
 found from the wreckage of a schooner that sank in 1914, similar to libraries circulated among lighthouses
(Photo: Bonnie Sandy/Martha's Vineyard Museum)

Portable lighthouse libraries, distributed across the United States in the 19th century, were a common but important part of life for families living under the constant work and near-isolation of the lighthouse watch...

Read more: Atlas Obscura

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