Fanny Morey Wheaton established the Seminary library with a gift of $100. The money was used to purchase Harper & Brothers newly established and pioneering publisher’s series, the Harper’s Family Library of titles in travel, history, and biography. Bound in dark brown buckram, the books are of uniform size (small octavo) and easy to handle. Almost every book in the series had the word, “library,” in its title, reinforcing the notion that purchasers were, in fact, building libraries. Along with other academic titles, the library continued to purchase the Harper’s Family Library, advertised as the “cheapest series of popular works ever published,” which grew over fifteen years to include 187 nonfiction titles, including Washington Irving’s Life of Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast.
Beginning in 1856, the library added a new series of titles: Ticknor and Fields’ Books in Blue and Gold, published in Boston. Named for their characteristic bindings of gold-stamped decoration on bright blue cloth, this series is easily identified on the shelf.