Women visitors at Marsh’s Library

Text from visitor book with names of women visitors
Four women, including a ‘Mrs Pakenham’, visited the library in 1863 to see the librarian and look at some books.

Sarah Lengers is currently undertaking a three-month internship at Marsh’s Library as part of her B.Sc. in Library and Information Science at the University of Applied Sciences in Leipzig. Here she describes what she discovered about women visitors to Marsh’s while answering a research enquiry.

More than 150 women visited Marsh’s Library between 1850 and 1911 according to the library’s visitor books.  The records raise interesting questions about the women’s motives.  Did these women come here to actually read or were they just visiting the library?  Were they here to pursue their own research or accompanying someone? 

Miss L. Crampton is the earliest female reader recorded in the visitor books in March of 1850. She came to the library in the company of two men, Philip and John Crampton.

As an intern at Marsh’s I am working together with the Assistant Librarian trying to bring more details about women readers at Marsh’s and their stories to light.  I have been looking at individual records and noticed that some items were being seen by female visitors again and again, perhaps indicating the librarian thought they were items of popular interest.

The visitor books offer valuable clues to why someone came into the library, but there are still many mysteries surrounding women visitors waiting to be solved!

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