A History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630-1913


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THE HARRY ELKINS WIDENER LIBRARY Gore Hall was disgracefully inadequate for the needs of America’s oldest and greatest uni- versity. This old building, since 1841 the college library, has been demolished, and the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library will supersede it. Harvard gets this gift through the generosity of the mother of Harry Elkins Widener. She lost her husband and her son in the wreck of the Titanic. The husband, George D. Widener, was the son of P. A. B. Widener, whose gener- osity has been shown in many ways in and about course of a few years was to become one of the finest collections of rare books in the world. Harry Elkins Widener, with his father, George D. Widener, was a passenger on the Titanic, of fateful memory. The young bibliophile had been pursuing his favorite quest in Europe— the search for books of sufficient value to have a place in his library. Among the rarities he had acquired was a first edition of Bacon’s Essays. He prized the little volume so highly that he refused to entrust it to the mails, and carried it in his pocket on that trip across the FRONT ELEVATION Philadelphia, the home city of the Widener family. Mrs. Widener is the daughter of the late William Elkins. f Harry Elkins Widener was bom in Phila- delphia in 1885, prepared for college at the High School at Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and was graduated from Harvard with the class of 1907. He was well-known at college and became a member of the Institute of 1770, the Delta Kappa Epsilon, the Phi Delta Psi, the Hasty Pudding Club and other student organizations. The Harvard librarians knew that this under- graduate was interested in books, but they did not realize that this youth just starting the twenties was already beginning what in the Atlantic which ended in the disaster of April, 1912. The copy of the famous Essays went down with this lover of books to his grave in the sea. There is a certain poetic fitness in the asso- ciation of books and collector even in death; for Harry Elkins Widener lived with his books as few men have ever done. His library was his bedroom, and his waking gaze fell upon his cherished companions. After his death it became known that he had bequeathed his collection to Harvard College. What are the books which made his collection famous? To list them all would be impossible. In 1910 he issued privately a handsome catalogue

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02 Mar 2013
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Eliot, Samuel Atkins, 1862-1950. 4n

Cambridge, Mass. : Cambridge Tribune