Boston Public Library > Collections > Library Collections

The heart of the Music Department's holdings is the Allen A. Brown Music Collection, named for the donor who presented it to the Library in 1895. By the terms of the gift, the original collection is housed in a specially designated area, and the books and other materials included in it are restricted to use in the Music Reading Room. Mr. Brown made regular additions to his original gift of 6,990 volumes so that it had nearly tripled in size by his death in 1916. The collection continues to grow through purchases from trust funds, including the Allen A. Brown Fund, and now contains more than 40,000 books, scores, and manuscripts.

The Brown Collection reflects the broad musical interests and activities of a collector and serious amateur musician at the turn of the century. It is well rounded in the area of operas, oratorios, orchestral and chamber music as well as solo songs and catches and glees both in manuscript and published score format. One of the important aspects of the collection is the ephemera Mr. Brown collected and preserved. Reviews of performances, published interviews, biographical sketches, concert programs, etc. are pasted in many of the books and scores that he purchased as well as in the numerous scrapbooks which he compiled.

Years of heavy use and environmental conditions have taken their toll on the collection. As a result, certain parts of the Collection have had to be restricted to persons working on serious research projects and graduate students working on their theses or dissertations. Prospective users should be prepared to present letters of introductions and proper credentials.

For more information please contact:
Music Department
McKim Building, 3rd Floor
Boston Public Library
700 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116
617-859-2275 or 617-536-5400
www.bpl.org/research/music/index.htm

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